There was plenty of news to come out of this weekend’s National Rifle Association’s Leadership Forum — the group’s annual convention, held this year in Indianapolis — and not all of it was from President Donald Trump pulling out of a treaty.
Sure, the majority of the headlines came from the president’s decision to withdraw the United States from a United Nations arms treaty that conservative critics say is beset by noncompliance from major exporters of conventional arms, including both China and Russia, and could eventually affect domestic gun laws in the U.S.
(Then-President Barack Obama signed the treaty in 2013, according to Fox News, but it was never ratified by the U.S. Senate. Thanks to Trump’s move Friday, it’s not going to be.)
However, there was another piece of news from the speech that didn’t get as much attention — including the president staking out cultural ground for the 2020 election with a message involving American values.
“Together, we are fighting for the timeless values that have built and sustained our nation. And our nation is greater today than it has ever been. Stronger, richer. We’re doing better than ever before,” Trump told the audience, according to a White House transcript.
“We believe in the rule of law. And we will always protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. And there are some people that are running right now; I don’t think they have that number one on their list.
“We believe that children should be taught to love our country, honor our history, and always respect our great American flag,” he continued.
President Trump: “We believe that children should be taught to love our country, honor our history, and always respect our great American flag.” pic.twitter.com/5psmXGlbrO
— The Hill (@thehill) April 27, 2019
The president also said that “(w)e know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life. And above all else, we know this: In America, we don’t worship government; we worship God.”
It wasn’t exactly the most click-worthy point during the president’s speech, but it represented an interesting dichotomy between himself and the Democrat field for 2020.
“Every day, citizens across America exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves, their families, and their communities. That’s a constitutional right,” Trump told the audience, while noting that “Democrats want to take it away from you. They will take it away.”
He particularly noted Sen. Bernie Sanders’ now-infamous call to let prisoners vote while they’re still behind bars — including the man behind the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013.
“You let these maniacs get into office, they will take that right away. I mean, you see what’s going on. ‘Let the Boston bomber vote. He should be voting.’ Right? I don’t think so. ‘Let terrorists that are in prison vote.’ I don’t think so. Can you believe it? But this is where some of these people are coming from. And they’re the most popular ones,” Trump said.
“When Bernie Sanders made certain statements the other day, I said, ‘Well, that’s the end of his campaign.’ Then, what happened is, everybody agreed with him,” Trump said, drawing laughter. “Or most of them.”
Of course, gun control measures and the voting rights of prisoners and former felons are major policy issues in the 2020 election, but drawing less attention are the cultural issues that divide Democrats and Republicans.
Take the American flag. You’re going to see plenty of ostentatious love for the trappings of American patriotism during the 2020 election process, including Old Glory.
It’s worth remembering, however, this is the field where one of the bigger names once declared that “I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, anytime, anywhere, in any place” when asked about national anthem protests. This isn’t a sentiment that’s out of place among Democrats, either.
The president, meanwhile, is saying that our children should “love our country, honor our history, and always respect our great American flag”
Which one will resonate more with voters?
At least on Friday, Trump proved that his take — both in terms of culture and policy — was a winner among the base. Whether it wins over independents is another matter, but it certainly managed to do the trick in 2016.
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