I didn’t want to watch it.
I definitely didn’t want to like it.
I even went to the movies with my wife — a film in Polish — while Donald Trump was delivering his nomination speech in Cleveland Thursday hight.
I read that it was angry and long when we returned home after midnight. But I also sensed from the Twitter-sphere that Trump may have done something special. Democrats were attacking his address as strident, but there was an alarm and indignance to their sentences.
Clearly a chord had been struck.
I bit the bullet Friday morning and watched the speech. It was a masterpiece. Trump killed it. He crushed it. He knocked it out of the park. In the course of an hour and 15 minutes, he and his speechwriting team perfectly corralled and expressed the anxieties and sentiments of millions of Americans like me who have felt in their bones these past eight years that the country has veered dangerously off track.
But he did something more than that — the thing that got him to the convention in the first place. Trump conveyed to the nation with unflagging confidence that he can fix everything. That he’s got it all. Self assuredness like that is intoxicating in times of uncertainty.
I want to believe him, too. But I don’t. I think Trump’s a fake — that he may destroy the Republican Party in the long term. And yet I still want to believe.
Hillary Clinton has to be concerned. Trump’s message is strong and clear coming out of the convention — “We Will Make America Great Again” — and hers is not. Clinton doesn’t really have a message; she has a mishmash of themes that chase the progressive gripe of the day. That’s grown tiresome and hollow. She projects “politician,” not confidence. It could be deadly in the Rust Belt states.
The week ahead will be a big one for Clinton. She will have a running mate, and then she and her team will roll into Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention.
Democrats always do conventions better than Republicans. They get A-list celebrities — sorry, Scott Baio — and their convention halls are about a hundred times more diverse than Republican rooms.
Democrats can also shamelessly dangle government bribes to voters with a straight face, like free college and expanded entitlement programs, and say that a handful of rich people can pay for it all. It’s a skill. Voters fall for it all the time.
But will the Democrats come out of Philadelphia with a message — with a vision for America?
If they don’t, Clinton needs to fear the heretofore unimaginable: Trump eroding her core and economically struggling African-American and Hispanic base. As preposterous as that sounds after all the controversial things Trump has said this past year, those are significant potential growth demographics for a populist candidate.
White people aren’t the only ones who want to feel that someone’s in charge. Everyone does.
William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant for Republicans.