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Donald Trump shares his gloomy vision of the US, but promises to restore law and order as president

After a stormy campaign, candidate formally accepts the Republican Party’s presidential nomination

Donald Trump addresses the Cleveland convention on Thursday.
Donald Trump addresses the Cleveland convention on Thursday. AFP

Republican candidate Donald Trump presented himself on Thursday to voters as the man who will bring law and order back to the United States, end military intervention and defend ordinary people from the elites he says have strong ties to his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. In a strident speech that lasted more than an hour, the Republican presidential nominee described a country drowning in violence and chaos and painted Clinton as a corrupt politician who is incapable of lifting the world’s only superpower out of its crisis.

“I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States,” Trump began. It was 10:22pm local time in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Republican Party had just ratified the presidential nomination of Donald J. Trump, New York business mogul, reality television star, and the GOP’s new leader.

His speech concluded an eventful convention that failed to assuage concerns about his volatile temperament and ideological flip-flops. Trump’s pessimism and lack of faith in the country’s potential are a far cry from the best Republican traditions, that Ronald Reagan smile, and that shining city upon a hill.

Trump equated immigration with crime and insulted his opponents in an address filled with half-truths and quasi-facts that painted an apocalyptic vision of the country

He may not have changed his bombastic style, but Trump delivered a more structured speech than his usual extemporaneous remarks. He even read the text without going off-script. Still, he continued to equate immigration with crime and to insult his opponents in an address filled with half-truths and quasi-facts that painted an apocalyptic vision of the country. Trump was Trump.

The candidate promised to create an era of prosperity and security in the United States after years of supposed decline and corruption which he linked to Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and former presidents, Democrats and Republicans alike. His presidency will signify a new beginning, he said. His remarks were a mixture of Richard Nixon’s call for law and order and his own populist nationalist themes. He presented himself as the candidate who will create jobs, save the middle class and make sure the United States is respected in the world.

“The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored,” Trump promised as he alluded to his possible inauguration if he wins in November.

The Republican nominee painted a grim picture of the United States: a country drowning in a wave of crime, plagued by dangerous immigrants and an economy that has made the middle class, and minorities in particular, poorer. He sought to connect with African Americans and Hispanics as if he wanted to make up for offending them, especially Latinos.

Populism is having its day on both sides of the Atlantic. Trump promised to defend “the forgotten men and women of our country” and “people who work hard but no longer have a voice.” “I am your voice,” he repeated several times as if it were a chorus. “I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves.” Clinton, he said, is a puppet in the service of lobbies and other powerful groups.

A populist millionaire? “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” he proclaimed.

"Americanism, not globalism"

One of Trump’s enduring themes is “America first,” the same motto used by Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semites who were against the United States entering World War II.

In a country fed up with war, sharing one’s indignation over “fifteen years of wars in the Middle East” —conflicts that began under former Republican President George W. Bush— is a crowd pleaser. “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,” Trump promised. The Republican nominee is a 100% Made in America product but he looks like a European model: the result of a clash between nationalism and cosmopolitanism.

The real estate mogul also discussed his plans to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border but he did not bring up his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country. That initiative has evolved. In June, he said he would “suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies” if he becomes president.

The Republican nominee is a 100% Made in America product but he looks like a European model: the result of a clash between nationalism and cosmopolitanism

Trump, a millionaire and novice politician, did not use what has become the convention's unofficial slogan, “Lock her up,” but he accused Hillary Clinton of “terrible crimes,” a baseless allegation that many voters, nevertheless, believe.

After reviewing her time as secretary of state, Trump added: “This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness.” Still, Americans and most allies of the United States do not see Trump as an acceptable choice for president either.

Given the tone of this campaign, it is hard to imagine that the loser on November 8 will find the courage to congratulate the winner.

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English version by Nick Lyne.

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