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Ric Grenell's Republican National Convention Speech Makes the Case for America First

AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

Ric Grenell has been one of my favorite Trump appointees. Whether as ambassador to Germany or as acting director of National Intelligence, I adore his style and his principles. When the left attacks him, it is because he is honest and believes in transparency, two qualities I admire. I had the opportunity to speak with him briefly outside of the 2016 RNC.

His speech on night three of the Republican National Convention was must-see TV for me. In just a few minutes, he gave a clear and compelling case for why he believed President Trump should be reelected. Looking back, he was absolutely correct, but after years of believing in free markets as a near-religious point of view that abhorred tariffs, I was unmoved.

That was before I wandered off Interstate 24 to drive through a Tennessee town where I had helped close a major plant a decade earlier. The company’s production moved to Mexico. It was the best business decision at the time, based on quarterly profits. No one figured in the human cost except in calculated severance pay. A trip through the former one-major-employer town makes it clear they had not correctly calculated the true human impact.

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That started an evolution of my thought on several policy issues that I watched closely throughout President Trump’s first term. Last night Grenell outlined my new way of thinking perfectly:

He started with President Trump’s position on endless wars in the Middle East:

He [Trump] said out loud what we all knew. American foreign policy was failing to make American’s safer. After the end of the Cold War, Democrats and Republicans in Washington bought into the illusion that the whole world would start to resemble America. And so they started to pursue unlimited globalization.

Then, Grenell pointed out that most of the foreign policy decisions during my lifetime were not grounded in the interests of the average American. Whether it was welcoming China into the WTO, trying to export democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, or the awful Paris Climate Accords and Iran Nuclear Deal, these moves benefited the global elite. All while they spilled American blood, treasure, and wealth.

So, for decades, while Washington politicians built a global system, American wages stagnated. Our great cities and industries were hollowed out. Entire communities were devastated, and our manufacturing plants were shipped off to China. That’s what happened when Washington stopped being the capital of the United States and started being the capital of the world.

Walking through his observations of President Trump’s foreign policy as ambassador to Germany, he demonstrated that it puts the safety and security of Americans first. This reprioritization is a sea change in how we deal with the international community. It is also a complete rejection of the doctrine of managed decline that began with former Secretary of State Kissinger and accelerated with the election of President Barack Obama.

As a Cold War kid, you couldn’t feel it during the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton years. It started to become more evident toward the end of George W. Bush’s second term and gained a head of steam under Obama. President Trump has turned the ship and demonstrated that decline is a choice. It is not our destiny, and we will not slide quietly into history.

Grenell hit the highlights of the president’s foreign policy accomplishments:

  • Exposed the threats that China poses to our economic and national security
  • Trade deals that put America First and ensure a more level playing field
  • Built alliances that share financial and other responsibilities
  • No new wars
  • Brought troops home
  • Rebuilt the military
  • Peace deals that made Americans safer

The Washington elites want you to think this kind of foreign policy is immoral. And so, they call it “nationalist”. That tells you all you need to know. The D.C. crowd thinks when they call Donald Trump a nationalist, they’re insulting him. As if the American president isn’t supposed to base foreign policy on America’s national interest.

Painting Biden as the Washington establishment candidate was another great move. I have joked that the Bernie Bros must hate us. All of our globalist, establishment squishes are lining up behind their party’s candidate. The Democrats rejected 22 contenders to pull a corpse out of retirement. The grassroots on the left are still under the boot of their elites and only get a pat on the head and some unofficial “Unity Platform.” They are being used.

On the right, the grassroots won. We have a president who is focused on opportunity, prosperity, and security for all Americans. Our elites, who don’t ever listen, are out of office, out of favor, and registering as Democrats. Even though he has been in office for a term, what these defections clearly show is that Donald Trump is still an outsider. As an incumbent, that is an amazing accomplishment.

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Next, Grenell started to riff on #SpyGate and what he learned during his time as Acting DNI. As my colleague Jeff Reynolds noted in the live blog last night, this is precisely when ABC cut away from the speech:

The Obama-Biden administration secretly launched a surveillance operation on the Trump campaign, and silenced the many brave intelligence officials who spoke up against it. They presented bogus information as facts. They lied to judges. Then they classified anything that undermined their case. And after Donald Trump won the election, when they should have continued the American tradition of helping the president-elect transition into the White House, they tried instead to undercut him even more. Former Vice President Joe Biden asked intelligence officials to uncover the hidden information on President Trump’s incoming National Security Advisor three weeks before the inauguration. That’s the Democrats. Between surveillance, classifications, leaks, and puppet candidates, they never want the American people to know who is actually calling the shots.

If that is a preview to what U.S. Attorney John Durham has seen, I look forward to the details. Americans have the right to know exactly how politicized our federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies have become.

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In closing, Grenell gave the best definition of an America First foreign policy I have heard:

America First does not advance the interests of one group of Americans at the expense of another. It has no bias about red or blue, educated or not educated, urban or rural. America First is simply the belief that politicians should focus on the equality and dignity of every American. And that this duty is fulfilled by promoting the safety and wealth of the American people above all else. That’s America First. And that, my friends, is four more years.

Bookmark that. It is a pitch that should resonate with all Americans as we emerge from the pandemic. Too many are trying to promote massive globalization and wealth redistribution using the pandemic as a pretext. Bill Gates, Dr. Tedros, and the World Economic Forum are all making plans. They all assert we cannot go back to our pre-pandemic lives and must ensure global, not national, prosperity.

This push necessitates a return to managed decline for the United States. It is a rejection of the fidelity to the nation-state seen in the election of President Trump, Brexit, and other political movements around the world. It seems the elite took the wrong lesson from the pandemic. It is a direct result of unfettered globalization and the moral relativism required to view China as a “normal” nation.

Donald Trump will ensure that the needs of Americans are met through strategic alliances with other Western-style democracies. With another term, I believe the table can be reset for a new world order where nations that embrace the values and ideals of the Enlightenment and the American experiment lead the world. And we will no longer listen to dictators and theocrats in the United Nations.

So, without reservation, along with enthusiasm and hope, I will join Ric Grenell in 2020 in saying, my friends, let’s get four more years.

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