Presidential Campaign

Terror speech shows Trump can win the ‘open minded’ vote

“Maybe Trump is onto something…” a friend averred on Monday as we watched Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech unfold in Youngstown, Ohio. 

This November, for the first time, my self-proclaimed “apathetic liberal-type” friend will consider voting Republican. For her, as for many young people over the past few months, the terrorist attacks in Orlando, San Bernardino and Nice roused her from her Bernie slumber to see that we live in a real world, with real enemies, and real consequences for inaction when it comes to standing up for our values. 

{mosads}The inaction is that our leaders fail to assign blame where it’s obviously due. When Omar Mateen attacked homosexuals while pledging his allegiance to ISIS, our leaders fell over themselves to tie the tragedy to mental illness, the ill effects of American foreign policy, repressed homosexuality, and American gun culture.

Mateen’s connection to ISIS was hastily downplayed or ignored. Google Mateen’s name in the mainstream press and political commentary, and you are sure to find statements decrying the repression of gays in America.

But it’s the Muslim countries that repress gays, churn out chauvinistic ideology, and spread these ideas around the world. All you have to do is look at what actually goes on in the Muslim world as opposed to what our leaders and press would wish to see in it. If you think Trump is a bigot, take a closer look at Muslim countries; or better yet, go there.

In Ohio, Trump brought a measure of much needed frankness to the national discourse about terrorism. “The United States defeated fascism, Nazism, and communism,” he observed. “Now, a different threat challenges our world: radical Islamic terrorism.” As Trump has intimated elsewhere, the problem with radical Islam is not just violence, but also hateful animus toward our country.

Young voters have long been the targets of “blame America first” narratives, authored by Washington politicians and the academic left. But in Youngstown, they were able to see, better than ever, a raw juxtaposition between the most famous ideas that America exports to the rest of the world and the most famous ideas that the Muslim world exports to America. 

While Trump talked straight in Youngstown, our leaders and news media continue trying to blame American culture for the killings in Orlando and San Bernardino. But the current generation of young people — the most open-minded in history — cannot buy into this narrative of self-blaming forever.

Nothing rankles millennials like intolerance. The question before young voters in this election is therefore whether America’s culture of openness is advanced by a leader who will fight to celebrate and protect it, or a leader who is afraid to take a position for fear of being offensive. The choice is surprisingly stark.

Trump finally appeared presidential in Youngstown, but he needs to do more. The shock of watching this campaign is not that Trump regularly fails to stay on message, but that he routinely gambles with a monumental opportunity to beat a candidate who is uniquely weak. Criticizing Gold Star parents, calling women bimbos, and mocking the appearance of opponents only alienates the same open-minded generation that he needs to entice.  

Trump showed in Ohio that he has the winning message, particularly in the face of routine terrorist events. If he will use his bold, unconventional style to attack the issues facing the nation, rather than to personally attack his critics, he can prove himself to be a new brand of Republican that is strong when necessary but open-minded and in touch with modern sensibilities.

That’s a brand of Republican that could very well captivate the millennials who will increasingly appreciate who the good and bad actors are in the struggle between America and terrorism. 

Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the new book, “Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride and what You can Do About It”

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags 2016 presidential race Democratic Party Donald Trump Foreign policy Homeland security Millennials Radical Islamic Terrorism Republican Party United States

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