An effective closing argument in a presidential reelection is one that makes the case based on a record of accomplishments, motivates the base, and persuades independents and undecided voters.
Partisans and polling generally agree that presidential elections turn on the economy. People ask themselves, “Am I better off today than I was four years ago?” The answer usually will coincide with their vote.
This year, Gallup’s polling has shown that 56 percent of Americans believe they are better off today than they were four years ago, in spite of the pandemic. While this should be great news for President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE, it is tempered by other pressing issues on voters’ minds — the pandemic, health care, jobs, law and order.
Many undecided and independent voters like what Trump has done; they just don’t like his rhetoric. They wish he would be more civil and “presidential” in his demeanor. They like the person who appeared at the second debate but dislike the guy who showed up at the first. Therein lies the conundrum. The president must drive home the argument that he is not a politician and he speaks unfiltered; he must ask people to forgive his bluntness, and to look at what he promised and what he delivered.
Indeed, in the closing days of this campaign, Trump and his supporters have worked harder to address head-on the concerns on voters’ minds:
The economy. Last Thursday it was reported that America’s Gross Domestic Product grew at 33.1 percent in the third quarter. This is record-breaking growth and speaks not only to how the president is handling the economy but to how he is handling the pandemic as well. He has emphasized the need to get America back to normal and open for business in a responsible way. He created the world’s greatest economy, which is quickly rebounding after the interruption caused by the coronavirus.
Among other things, he secured historic tax cuts which provided a boost for American families and workers and put American businesses on a level playing field globally. He created economic opportunity zones to bring new prosperity and opportunity to forgotten communities. He restored American manufacturing, implementing policies to bring back supply chains from overseas. And he created record-breaking employment for minorities.
With regard to government deregulation, Trump’s record has far exceeded his promise to cut two regulations for every new one, removing red tape that stifled American businesses.
He also delivered on his promise to make trade “free and fair,” negotiating an historic trade deal with Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA. He slapped tariffs on China's exports in response to its treatment of American imports, its dumping of Chinese-made steel in the U.S., and its theft of American intellectual property.
America under Trump has become energy-independent, making us more secure and making energy prices lower and affordable for all Americans. He got us out of the Paris Climate Accord, which punished America while rewarding countries like Russia, China and India for their irresponsible energy policies.
The pandemic. There is an important contrast between a potential Biden presidency, in which “one size fits all” would be the strategy to combat COVID-19, and the Trump presidency, in which states and localities have been encouraged and enabled to care for their populations with federal help. Democrats believe they can control the climate — hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes — as well as pandemics. Yet, every time humans try to control nature's forces, the results are humbling. That is why Trump has insisted that we not allow "the cure to be worse than the disease."
The president has done a good job of mitigating the effects of the pandemic. His quick action to ban travel from infection hot-spots slowed the spread here and bought us time to prepare and prevent greater harm, saving possibly millions of lives. The damage already caused to our lives, our economy and our security demands that we not act unreasonably and that we assume certain risks for the greater good. As Trump has argued, we should continue to protect the elderly and the vulnerable while securing therapeutics and a vaccine without needless bureaucratic or regulatory delay.
Health care. The Democrats' passing of ObamaCare in 2010 was a means to an end for government-funded and -controlled health care for all. They knew ObamaCare was destined for failure and would be merely a placeholder. President Trump has argued that health care must continue to be a public-private partnership. Government has an obligation to protect those with pre-existing conditions, the poor and the elderly, but there is a place for a robust, competitive, affordable private health care system. The way to guarantee the best, most affordable health care for most working Americans is to create competition, to deregulate and incentivize.
Law and order. Trump has worked to restore safety to American communities, taken action to combat violent crime, and reinstated the federal death penalty. He launched a whole-of-government effort to combat the opioid crisis and cracked down on illicit fentanyl imported from China and Mexico. He stood with law enforcement officials during the summer’s urban turmoil, unlike many Democratic leaders, and he pushed to enact historic bipartisan criminal justice reform to reverse unfair sentencing laws, reduce recidivism, and keep our communities safe.
Just as our economic numbers improved measurably under Trump, America is a much safer place today — not just at home, but abroad, too — than it was four years ago. We are not engaged in endless wars. We have isolated our enemies, stood up to our adversaries, stood by our friends. We withdrew forces from overseas, rebuilt our military, and made peace among unlikely parties in the Middle East.
President Trump deserves a second term because he made good on his promises. He put America first. He restored the economy prior to the pandemic and is on the way to doing it again. He has acted responsibly with regard to the pandemic and empowered the public and private sectors in prevention, management, therapeutics and vaccine. He has a plan for national health care grounded in competition, availability, affordability and deregulation. He has supported our police, other "first responders" and the rule of law. He's been a job-creator, presiding over the lowest unemployment in generations prior to the pandemic, and is well on his way to restoring, preserving and creating jobs again as we recover.
Results "trump" rhetoric. They are the true measure of promises made and kept.
Bradley A. Blakeman was a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004. He is a principal of the 1600 Group, a strategic communications firm.