Michael Barone - What's 'Make Amerian One Again' about?

"Make America One Again." That was the stated theme of the last night of the Republican National Convention. In the welter of analysis of Donald Trump's acceptance speech, few have commented on it, but it's worth taking it seriously.

Liberal commentators have dwelled repeatedly on Trump's "dark" and "dystopian" view of America. Apparently, you're not supposed to think badly of our nation when we have a black Democratic president.

This is mostly just partisan spin. The candidate of the out party invariably takes a dim view of the way things are going. Yes, they usually add more uplift than Trump provided.

But when two-thirds of voters think the nation is not moving in the right direction, pessimism does not go against the grain. You heard similar pessimism, although about different things, in the campaign for the Democratic nomination. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders depicted the nation as if we were in the seventh and eighth years of a Bush presidency.

Unlike other recent acceptance speeches, Trump's made almost no mention of history, except for a reference to a Lyndon Johnson IRS regulation, and made no attempt to put his candidacy in historical context. There was no mention of Ronald Reagan.

Nevertheless, the theme of "making America one again" is in line with the historical character of the Republican Party, which has always had a central core of people seen as typical Americans but are never by themselves a majority. They must attract others to their cause.

In contrast, the Democratic Party has been a coalition — sometimes fractured, sometimes a majority — of disparate minority groups: white Southerners and big city immigrants in the 19th century, black churchgoers and gentry liberals today.

Hillary Clinton is trying to reassemble the 2012 Obama 51 percent majority by offering something to blacks, something else to Hispanics, another thing to millennials and LGBTQs.

Trump is doing something different. He seeks to appeal to different kinds of people as all being Americans. On Thursday night, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Mississippi native, quoted an 1861 Abraham Lincoln speech in Cleveland: "If all do not join now to save the good old ship of Union this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage."

Thursday night speakers included the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who proclaimed himself proudly gay, proudly Republican and, most of all, proudly American.

In his acceptance speech Trump promised to protect LGBTQs (he charmed the audience by stumbling over the acronym) from a "hateful foreign ideology" and thanked evangelicals (while admitting that he is far from being one himself) for their support.

The message is that the culture wars are over. As for "who uses which bathroom," the latest cultural brouhaha, Thiel's answer was: "Who cares?"

Other arguments have become stale. Abortion won't be criminalized, but abortions have been rarer and the number of abortion clinics is declining, and not just because of restrictive state laws.

Same-sex marriage has been legalized everywhere by the Supreme Court, saving Republicans from the task of opposing majority opinion. But you don't have to participate (I haven't seen any recent cases of bakers sued for refusing to making wedding cakes for gay couples). This is in line with basic etiquette, which says you can decline a wedding invitation without giving a reason.

The debate over these issues seems stale, and it's not clear that Democrats' efforts to pump up their constituencies' enthusiasm or arouse their fears will work; we'll get some idea in Philadelphia. But it may prove hard to provoke alarm in those who have been mostly winning on these issues.

Democrats have a more target-rich environment in attacking Trump as volatile and unreliable, as presumptive vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine did Saturday. More difficult will be attempts to present a sunnier alternative to Trump's "dark" narrative.

It's true that, as Barack Obama said Friday, crime is down compared to 30 years ago, and increases in urban homicides may just be, as he said, an "uptick." But Trump's numbers are accurate also. A president who people thought would be something like Martin Luther King has sounded more like Al Sharpton.

It's hard to make the case that things are not really as bad as you think they are, and that sophisticated people realize that terrorist incidents are less common than bathtub accidents, that murders of police are less of a problem than bathroom issues. We'll see how the Democrats do.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

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Froma Harrop — No Bernie revolution without Bernie

One hesitates to discuss the small group of Bernie Sanders followers throwing tantrums at the Democratic convention. Some 90 percent of Sanders backers say they've already moved their support to Hillary Clinton.

But when a tiny number — some with duct tape on their mouths saying "silenced" — marched out of the hall and straight into the media tent, the "journalists" pounded prose on "sharp divisions" in the party.

The unhappy few had already booed at Sanders himself. They heckled the progressive warrior Elizabeth Warren. Sanders' other supporters rolled their eyes at the histrionics, but what could they do?

When Sanders finally offered total support for Clinton, he showed himself to be a giant political leader. That he did so after an email leak confirming that the Democratic National Committee had tilted against his candidacy made him taller still.

Sanders had already pushed the Democratic Party to adopt much of his program, demonstrating a skill at negotiating many of us doubted he had. In sum, Sanders deserved the adulation that friends and former rivals poured on him at the convention.

So this was a heck of a time for a handful of acolytes to grab at his spotlight, some parroting the imbecilities of the Trump campaign. To borrow from Dante's "Inferno," one should not reflect on such people but take a look and pass them by.

A good restaurant knows that there are certain customers it has to throw out. They're too disruptive. They give the place a bad reputation and scare off others.

Sanders himself gets some blame for having fed his following a constant diet of grievance and belief that the electoral process had been "rigged" against them. The nominating race was lumpy all around. The DNC may have put a thumb on the scale for Clinton, but she was subject to unfairness, as well, in the coverage of the campaigns and the undemocratic nature of the caucuses that Sanders won.

I wasn't a great fan of Sanders'. He had a reputation for not working well with others, and I distrust populist campaigns centered on a charismatic figure. But I always admired Sanders for his consistency, his obvious love for country and many of his ideas.

So it was painful to watch Sanders being treated so disrespectfully by people he had led to the portals of power. And at his finest hour, too.

A few fancied out loud that they could run the Bernie revolution without Bernie, which is kind of laughable. With Sanders would go the cameras and the attention, leaving behind a skeleton crew of exhibitionists.

That said, a lasting Sanders revolution may be in the making by others. Sophisticated backers are now recruiting like-minded candidates for lower office, building a progressive power base and expanded leadership. (A slip in the suggestion box reads, call this a "movement" rather than a "revolution.")

As Sanders faced hostile members of his California delegation, he laid down the stakes in no uncertain terms. "It is easy to boo, but it is harder to look your kids in the face who would be living under a Donald Trump presidency," he said. "Trump is the worst candidate for president in the modern history of this country."

A California Democratic Party official wisely advised against self-pity. "You fought and you won a seat at the table," Daraka Larimore-Hall said. "We have to act like we have that seat ... and stop acting like we've been shut out."

Just a gentle reminder here: Clinton won the California primary by over 400,000 votes, and Sanders got these followers excellent seats at the table. The revolution, for the time being, is still his.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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Pat Buchanan - Eviction notices

The self-righteousness and smugness of Ted Cruz in refusing to endorse Donald Trump, then walking off stage in Cleveland, smirking amidst the boos, takes the mind back in time.

At the Cow Palace in San Francisco in July of 1964, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, having been defeated by Barry Goldwater, took the podium to introduce a platform plank denouncing "extremism."

Implication: Goldwater's campaign is saturated with extremists.

Purpose: Advertise Rocky's superior morality.

Smug and self-righteous, Rocky brayed at the curses and insults, "It's a free country, ladies and gentlemen."

Rocky was finished. He would never win the nomination.

Richard Nixon took another road, endorsed Goldwater, spoke for him in San Francisco, campaigned for him across America. And in 1968, with Goldwater's backing, Nixon would rout Govs. George Romney and Rockefeller, and win the presidency, twice.

Sometimes, loyalty pays off.

About Cruz, a prediction: He will not be the nominee in 2020. He will never be the nominee. If Trump wins, Cruz is cooked. If Trump loses, his people will not forget the Brutus who stuck the knife in his back.

To any who read Allen Drury's "Advise and Consent" or saw the movie, Ted Cruz is the Senator Fred Van Ackerman of his generation.

Yet, beyond the denunciations of Trump and disavowals of his candidacy, something larger is going on here. The Goldwaterites were not only dethroning the East Coast liberal establishment of Rockefeller, but saying goodbye to the Republicanism of President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon. Something new was being born, and births are not a pretty sight.

What was being born was a new Republican Party. It would be dominated, after Nixon, by conservatives, who would seek to dump the Accidental President, Gerald R. Ford, in 1976. They would recapture the party in 1980, and help elect and re-elect Ronald Reagan.

Vice President George H. W. Bush won in 1988 through the exploitation of cultural and social issues. His Democratic rival, Gov. Michael Dukakis, opposed the death penalty, opposed public school kids taking the Pledge of Allegiance, and had a progressive program to give weekend passes to convicted killers and rapists like Willie Horton.

Once this became known, thanks to Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater, the Little Duke was done. The Dukakis tank ride in that helmet, to show his aptitude to be commander-in-chief, probably did not help.

The crisis of today's Republican Party stems from a failure to recognize, after Reagan went home, and during the presidency of George H. W. Bush, that America now faced a new set of challenges.

By 1991, America's border was bleeding. Thousands were walking in from Mexico every weekend. The hundreds of thousands arriving legally, the vast majority of them Third World poor, began putting downward pressure on working-class wages. Soon, these immigrants would begin voting for the welfare state on which their families depended, and support the Party of Government.

By 1991, free trade had begun to send our factories and jobs overseas and de-industrialize America.

By 1991, an epoch in world history had ended. With the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the Cold War was suddenly over. America had prevailed.

"As our case is new," said Lincoln, "so we must think anew and act anew." Bush Republicans did not think anew or act anew.

They were like football coaches who still swore by the single-wing offense, after George Halas' Chicago Bears, the "Monsters of the Midway," used the T-formation to score 11 touchdowns and beat the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL championship game, 73-0.

What paralyzed the Republicans of a generation ago? What blinded them from seeing and blocked them from acting on the new realities? Ideology, political correctness, a reflexive recoil against new thinking, and an innate inability to adapt.

The ideology was a belief in free trade that borders on the cultic, though free trade had been rejected by America's greatest leaders: Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

The political correctness stemmed from a fear of being called racist and xenophobic so paralyzing, so overpowering, that some Republicans would ship the entire Third World over here, rather than have it thought they would ever consider the race, ethnicity or religion of those repopulating America.

The inability to adapt was seen when our Cold War adversary extended a hand in friendship, and the War Party slapped it away. Rather than shed Cold War alliances and rebuild our country, we looked around for new commitments, new allies, new wars to fight to "end tyranny in our world."

These wars had less to do with threats to vital interests, than with providing now-obsolete Cold Warriors with arguments to maintain their claims on national resources and attention, not to mention their lifestyles and jobs.

With Trump's triumph, the day of reckoning has arrived. The new GOP is not going to be party of open borders, free trade globalism or reflexive interventionism.

The weeping and gnashing of teeth are justified. For these self-righteous folks are all getting eviction notices. They are being dispossessed of their home.

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E. Scott Cracraft - In search of a sane, rational drug policy

In any crisis situation, it is difficult to maintain "balance" and the tendency is to either overreact or under-react. This is true of the opiate problem facing N.H. Of course, abuse of heroin and other drugs are nothing new in the U.S.A. but historically, it usually only gets called a "crisis" when it shows up in lily-white, middle class communities.

But, a crisis it is. The heroin now is stronger and cheaper than ever before. People are overdosing and people are dying. People who are "cut off" prescribed pain meds are turning to the illicit market. Narcotics need to be controlled and their medical use monitored but hopefully the current problem will not result in irrationality.

One cannot help but wonder if the war on opiates will result in doctors being reluctant to manage their patients' pain for fear they will get into trouble. Patients in pain who cannot get prescribed medications will simply turn to illicit sources. Doctors do and should monitor patients taking these medications and there is room for improvement.

In a previous op-ed in The Sun, this writer pointed out that the drug business is like any other capitalist economy. There is a demand side and a supply side. As long as there is a demand, someone will take the risk to manufacture or sell drugs.

Previous "wars on drugs," which focused primarily on the supply side and the busting of dealers and the eradication of drug crops (which hurt farmers in developing countries where growing coca or opium is more lucrative than other crops) were dismal failures-at U.S. taxpayers' expense. A sane drug policy addresses both supply and demand.

We should treat manufacturing and dealing of large amounts of dangerous drugs harshly. But, many people doing time for low-level sales are simply people who are supporting habits. It is easier to bust the user than the big suppliers.

As for the demand side, addicts need treatment. In spite of a Sun writer calling it "liberal claptrap," addiction has long been classified as a disease by the medical and therapeutic professions. Removing the stigma of addiction is a part of solving the problem.

Twelve-step programs like A.A. and N.A. are great but there also needs to be professional, medical intervention and more public funding for the same. There also needs to be more control over the private, for-profit rehab industry, which sometimes operate their facilities like cults and use scare tactics to bilk money out of families.

There also needs to be realistic drug education and this starts at home. As with sex, kids need the facts and not what adults wish them to think. They do not need D.A.R.E. cops telling them to turn in their parents if they smell pot. Nor, should they be told "all drugs are the same." While it is likely that most crack addicts smoked marijuana at some point, it does not follow that everyone who tries pot will smoke crack.

As for cannabis, medical marijuana should be legal in every state and the Feds need to remove it from the list of "Class I" controlled substances. Naturally, there would have to be rules. Perhaps even recreational use should be legal for adults as it is in two states.

Legalizing pot might actually result in less use because this might take away some of the "thrill." As for other drugs, perhaps we should follow the example of Portugal where mere use is decriminalized without legalizing trafficking. This might give the police more time to concentrate on more serious crimes.

But historically, it is usually police organizations that have lobbied the hardest against changes in our marijuana laws. Many even oppose medical pot. They say that medical pot will be diverted to the illicit market.

Of course, that can happen but doesn't the same thing happen with other prescribed medications? Or, they say if pot is legal for adults, some will get to the kids. But doesn't that already happen with booze?

People seem to forget that our two most dangerous and most addictive drugs, alcohol and tobacco, are completely legal. Alcohol is celebrated in our culture. But, these substances are responsible for more deaths, directly and indirectly, than all the other drugs combined.

(Scott Cracraft is a citizen, taxpayer, veteran, and resident of Gilford.)

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Michael Barone - Is America ready for a disruptive president?

Disruptive. That's a good word to describe Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, and to describe the sometimes-ramshackle Republican National Convention his campaign more or less superintended in Cleveland this past week.

Apple disrupted the music industry; Uber disrupted the taxi cartels; Amazon disrupted the mega-bookstores. Global competition has been disrupting American manufacturing for decades. The inundation of low-skill immigrants unintentionally produced by the 1965 immigration act has disrupted many communities and big metro areas.

Over history, America has mostly been built by disruption. Certainly the Loyalists in the American Revolution thought so. So did the farmers who cheered for William Jennings Bryan's free silver as industrialization was disrupting the farm economy.

The New Deal was disruptive. So was World War II. As Yuval Levin points out in his book "The Fractured Republic," both the political left and political right see the two post-WW2 decades as normal, with high family formation, low crime, strong faith in institutions and relatively smooth economic growth.

But that period was there exception, not the rule. Postwar America was massively disrupted by the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations, high crime, urban riots and antiwar protests.

That's the point in time when Donald Trump began using his father's political connections to move his Brooklyn/Queens real estate business to Manhattan and beyond. And to stamp his last name on casinos, hotels and eventually a reality TV show.

When Trump came down the escalator at Trump Tower 13 months ago and announced his candidacy, almost no commentator took his chances seriously — except the Dilbert cartoonist, Scott Adams.

The other 16 Republicans largely represented a party consensus: conservative on cultural issues; pro tax cuts, backing military interventions and free trade. Trump was different: perfunctory on cultural issues; against the Iraq War; corrosively critical of trade agreements and illegal immigration.

Trump's victory in the Republican race owes much to $2 billion or so of free media coverage and to his 16 rivals' unwillingness to risk attacks that might recoil against them. His dystopian picture of America and the world spinning out of control gained credibility after terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, Orlando and Nice, and even more so after recent mass murder of police officers. This was the centerpiece of his acceptance speech in Cleveland.

Trump didn't get a majority till he got home to New York April 19, but by May 4 all his rivals withdrew.

It's widely appreciated that Trump appealed especially to non-college-graduates and older voters. There's also an ethnic angle. Groups with high degrees of social connectedness and respect for order — Mormons, Dutch- and German-Americans — were largely immune from his appeal. People without such ties, whom he called Thursday night "people who work hard but no longer have a voice," were drawn to him.

Groups that respond positively to raucous disruptive appeals rallied to Trump: Scots-Irish along the Appalachian spine from western Pennsylvania to northern Alabama; and Italian-Americans, half of whom live with 100 miles of New York City. If you draw a map of counties where Trump topped 50 percent by May 4, the great bulk of them are along that diagonal and within that circle.

For 20 years American elections have been battles between two roughly equal-sized armies in a culture war, with results differing little year to year. It's easy to predict how 40 states will vote, much harder to predict who will win the election.

Donald Trump may well disrupt this pattern, too. Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes seem within his range, as well as Ohio's 16 and Florida's 29 — which together would have made Mitt Romney president. Trump seems less competitive in states with younger, more educated populations, such as Colorado (9) and Virginia (13). Heavily German-American Wisconsin (10) seems hostile; low-social-connectedness Nevada (6) quite friendly.

It's not clear that this disruptive convention will help him. Trump's managers have disrupted the traditions in place for 30 years. These rules had been: only supporters speak, sessions end promptly at 11 p.m., don't visibly crush dissent, vet speeches carefully. Monday saw a rules rebellion squashed. Tuesday it was controversy over a bit of anodyne plagiarism. Wednesday it was Ted Cruz's ringing non-endorsement, booed off the stage.

But there's another way of looking at a campaign that has not gone conventional wisdom's way. Disorder and disarray work against the party in power. Terrorist attacks and police shootings are not what America thought it'd get in the Obama years.

As tech billionaire Peter Thiel argued Thursday, disruption is a good thing when old ways — and especially government — aren't working well.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

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