Joseph Klein, A night honoring the nation’s heroes and spirit of freedom.
The theme for the third night of the Republican National Convention was “Land of Heroes,” focusing on heroism in the military, law enforcement and the front lines of first responders. The night conveyed a message of freedom in America that past generations have fought for and that is our task today to preserve with individual acts of service and heroism. And the contrast was made vividly clear between today’s Republican Party as the party that honors and seeks to preserve America’s core values of individual life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with today’s Democratic Party, which has turned into an attack machine against law enforcement and champion of government control over peoples’ lives.
The man of the hour, Vice President Mike Pence, spoke live from Fort McHenry, the site of the War of 1812 battle that inspired the writing of our national anthem. He delivered an inspiring speech that was also blistering in its criticism of Joe Biden and his leftist Democratic Party. After the vice president concluded his speech, President Trump joined him on stage as the national anthem was sung and Old Glory flew above.
Vice President Pence said that the 2020 election was a choice of “whether America remains America.” He portrayed the difference between the agendas of the two parties as one between the Republican Party’s agenda of freedom and today’s Democratic Party’s agenda of government control. “We stand at a crossroads, America,” Pence said. “President Trump has set our nation on a path of freedom and opportunity. Joe Biden would set America on a path of socialism and decline.” Biden is “nothing more than a Trojan horse for the radical left,” Pence added.
President Trump, Pence observed, “sees America for what it is, a nation that has done more good in this world than any other, a nation that deserves far more gratitude than grievance.” The vice president pointedly remarked that “if you want a president who falls silent when our heritage is demeaned or insulted, he’s not your man.”
Biden remained silent during his party’s convention about the destruction of statues dedicated to our nation’s heroes and about the violence spreading through America’s cities. Finally, realizing that his continued silence may be hurting his chances with voters concerned about their personal security, Biden made a half-hearted, belated attempt on Wednesday to distinguish peaceful protest from violent behavior. But Biden has not pulled back from the support he expressed for cutting funding to law enforcement.
“The hard truth is you will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Pence warned. “Under President Trump, we will always stand with those who stand on the thin blue line, and we are not going to defund the police, not now, not ever. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.” And Pence noted that we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and helping African-Americans to improve the quality of their lives, education, jobs, and safety. He said that “from the first days of this administration, we’ve done both, and we will keep supporting law enforcement and keep supporting our African-American and minority communities across this land for four more years.”
Pence highlighted President Trump’s accomplishments regarding the economy, energy independence, improving care for veterans, building up the military, beating back the ISIS caliphate, defending the right to life and the right to bear arms, and supporting law enforcement. “President Donald Trump has kept his word to the American people,” Vice President Pence said after wryly noting that the president “does things in his own way, on his own terms. In a city known for talkers, President Trump is a doer, and few presidents have brought more independence, energy, or determination to that office.” Biden, on the other hand, is a career politician who talks but achieves no constructive results.
Pence noted how Joe Biden had opposed President Trump’s order to take out the world’s most dangerous terrorist, Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani. “But it’s not surprising,” Pence said, “because history says Joe Biden opposed the operation that took down Osama bin Laden. It is no wonder that the secretary of defense under the Obama-Biden administration once said that Joe Biden has been, and I quote, ‘wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.’”
Noting the suffering caused by the coronavirus, Vice President Pence shared the grief of “all of the families who have lost loved ones and have family members still struggling with serious illness.” But the vice president would not let the Democrats get away with their false narrative that President Trump had mismanaged the handling of the coronavirus crisis, costing American lives. He said that President Trump’s early decision to suspend travel from China “saved untold American lives” and “bought us invaluable time to launch the greatest national mobilization since World War II.” He went on to describe in detail how President Trump mobilized government and private industry to “reinvent testing and produce supplies that were distributed to hospitals around the land.”
Vice President Pence then took another jab at Biden for not believing in America as “a nation of miracles,” before reporting that “we are on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year.”
Vice President Pence concluded his speech by asking Americans to “fix our eyes on old glory and all she represents” and “fix our eyes on this land of heroes and let their courage inspire.” Finally, he said, “we should fix our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith and our freedom and never forget that where the spirit of the lord is, there is freedom. That means freedom always wins.”
As on the previous two nights there was a wide range of speakers from the public and private sectors, including one by Second lady Karen Pence who focused on the nation’s military heroes and their spouses whom she called “home front heroes.” No Hollywood celebrities spoke, thank goodness.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem was the night’s first speaker. She warned that America’s “founding principles are under attack.” She noted the looting, chaos, and destruction in Democrat-controlled cities, recalling that Abraham Lincoln was alarmed during another troubled time on the eve of the Civil War by “the increasing disregard for the rule of law throughout the country.” She contrasted today’s Democratic Party, driven by identity politics, with the Republican Party’s respect for “individuals based on who they are. We don’t divide people based on their beliefs or their roots. We don’t shun people who think for themselves.”
Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas, who lost an eye in combat, began his remarks with a personal story of heroism that he observed while serving in Afghanistan. “Here’s the truth about America: we are a country of heroes. I believe that, so should you,” Crenshaw said. He then defined heroism as “self-sacrifice, not moralizing and lecturing over others when they disagree. Heroism is grace, not perpetual outrage. Heroism is rebuilding our communities, not destroying them. Heroism is renewing faith in the symbols that unite us, not tearing them down.”
Senator Marsha Blackburn talked about the kind of hero that “Democrats don’t recognize, because they don’t fit into their narrative.” She was referring to the heroes of our law enforcement and armed services. “Leftists try to turn them into villains,” Senator Blackburn said. “They try to cancel them. But I’m here to tell you that these heroes can’t be cancelled.”
Michael McHale, the president of the National Association of Police Organizations, praised President Trump for showing support “for the men and women on the front lines, particularly during these challenging times.” He added, “The violence and bloodshed we are seeing in these and other cities isn’t happening by chance; it’s the direct result of refusing to allow law enforcement to protect our communities.”
Clarence Henderson, a civil rights activist who faced down the KKK sixty years ago, described his own personal experience with racism. “Walking into the Woolworth Department Store on February 2, 1960, I knew it was unlike any day I’d experienced before,” Henderson said. “My friends had been denied service the day before because of the color of their skin. We knew it wasn’t right. But when we went back the next day I didn’t know whether I was going to come out in a vertical or prone position in handcuffs or on a stretcher — or even in a body bag. By sitting down to order a cup of coffee, we challenged injustice. We knew it was necessary. But we didn’t know what would happen. We faced down the KKK. We were cursed at and called all kinds of names. They threatened to kill us. And some of us were arrested. But it was worth it.”
Henderson criticized Joe Biden for saying that voters “ain’t black” if they don’t vote for him. “Well to that, I say, if you do vote for Biden, you don’t know history,” he declared. President Trump “has done more for black Americans in four years than Joe Biden has done in 50,” he added. President Trump’s policies helping the black community “show his heart.”
To sum up the third night of the Republican National Convention, its staging and messages were inspiring to all Americans who believe in freedom, revere our nation’s heroes, and aspire to act heroically as best we can in our own lives. Vice President Pence did what he needed to do to in providing a strong lead-in to the final night of the convention when President Trump delivers his acceptance speech.