August 19, 2016
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Donald Trump gave two historic speeches this week, each offering a big choice about America’s future at home and abroad.
On Monday, Trump gave a remarkable address about national security and the threat of Islamic supremacism. On Tuesday, he spoke about domestic security and prosperity–specifically, the challenges facing poor Americans in our inner cities.
The two speeches were historic for different reasons.
The first was a speech that finally–almost 15 years after 9/11–treated the threat of Islamic supremacism with the level of seriousness and new thinking it deserves.
Never before has an American presidential nominee stated so clearly and unequivocally that we are in a global war, that we are not winning the war, and that our enemy is ideological in nature.
Trump linked the struggle explicitly to our long wars with the fascism, Nazism, and communism. And he argued that we must meet the threat from Islamic supremacism with equal clarity and resolve.
Trump argued that a serious strategy for defeating our enemies must recognize the ideological nature of the threat.
“Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam,” he said.
That means building tools to keep the ideology from spreading in the United States, and eventually, to defeat it. In a profound break with the national security establishment in both parties, Trump argued for applying the lessons of our struggle against the Nazis and the communists in the 20th century:
Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued immigrant visas.
It would be difficult to overstate how big a difference this proposal is from the status quo–an immigration system that is largely blind to ideology and unconcerned with assimilation–and from the designs of Hillary Clinton, who wants to increase the number of refugees from Syria by 550 percent with no clear plan to adequately vet them.
In this clear and accurate description of reality, Trump laid the groundwork for developing the strategy we urgently need to defeat our enemies.
Trump’s second speech was equally historic in rethinking the dogmas that have dominated our politics for decades.
In his address on domestic safety here in the United States, Trump spoke more boldly and directly to the African American community than any Republican presidential nominee I can remember.
Here again, he argued that the current approach of our policy establishment is failed and discredited.
He described how the left’s policies, its bureaucracies, and its political leaders have led to pockets of inescapable poverty in the heart of great American cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Detroit.
He drew on the analysis of Rudy Giuliani and Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke to make the case that these failures of the left lead directly to the despair, desperation, resentment, anger, and eventually, violence that we are seeing in the streets this month.
Trump presented the big choice facing poor Americans in the inner cities–and African Americans in particular–in stark terms: Are they satisfied with the crime, with schools that don’t work, with neighborhoods that have no jobs, with corrupt politicians who cheat and lie to the people, with teachers’ unions that block parents from sending their children to better schools, and with the physical danger they face every day?
Or are they willing to think about making real changes?
No Republican has ever had the courage to pose this choice so clearly and so directly. But more than any time in recent history, the conditions in our cities offer a historic opportunity for a new conversation about how to solve the problems of poverty and violent crime in America.
These two speeches both offer a revolutionary break with the failed, ossified establishment that currently dominates Washington. They represent a pivotal moment in the campaign and set the stage for a great national debate–and a very big choice–this fall.
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