Donald Trump’s GOP is running as an explicitly nationalist party. Under the old 1940s slogan of “America First,” the Republican Party and its presidential nominee portray a country under endless assault by all things foreign, from which only he can save us.
China, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, and others are stealing American jobs through trade deals. Mexico is sending the U.S. rapists and drug dealers. Syrian refugees are coming to kill us and convert the survivors to Islam. America is terrible and a disaster and it has to be “made great again.”
The question has been whether the Democrats would reject Trump’s nationalism. Would they be the explicitly globalist party that celebrates American diversity and our role in the world? Or would they follow him down the same dark road?
The answer is neither: the Democrats have decided instead to embrace patriotism in language that’s commonly associated with the Republican Party, along with the family values that middle America adheres to.
When Republicans used to talk about America, it was always in optimistic tones. As Vox points out, the Democrats are now expressing patriotism in that same context.
The man who really pressed those themes home was Vice President Joe Biden:
Meanwhile, throughout the convention, Democrats have implicitly argued that it is they who love America before — because, unlike Trump, they recognize it is already great.
Vice President Joe Biden gave this argument its purest expression on Wednesday night, in a full-throated argument for a proud, liberal nationalism that explicitly catered to the self-image of working-class people who already considered themselves “real Americans”:
We have the finest fighting force in the world. Not only do we have the largest economy in the world, we have the strongest economy in the world. We have the most productive workers in the world. And given a fair shot, given a fair chance, Americans have never, ever, ever, ever, ever let the country down. Never!
Other Republican themes were co-opted last night. Michael Bloomberg, a New York City billionaire who is far more respected and successful than Donald Trump, made the business case for Hillary Clinton. First Lady Michelle Obama and vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine talked about their families, emphasizing faith, community, and togetherness. Democrats also spent more time than previous conventions on veterans’ issues. #NeverTrump conservatives pointed out that there was more talk of God, freedom, and the Constitution at the DNC than at the RNC.
Finally, President Obama gave a speech that sounded like it was lifted from a Republican convention, and did something no one else has done this election: acknowledged #NeverTrump conservatives:
These conservatives may listen to Democrats if their support is wanted. No one else is even bothering to court them.
The first two nights of the Democratic convention looked more like the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars, with speakers promoting gun confiscation and “shouting their abortions,” among other progressive virtue signaling.
That changed when the adults replaced demagogues like Elizabeth Warren. The Democrats have now become the party of family values and patriotism. It’s good to see one party standing up for that in this election.