It’s no secret that Republicans are deeply divided heading into Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena as they officially nominate Donald J. Trump as their presidential candidate. These divisions were in full display as opponents of Donald Trump attempted to force a roll call vote by all 2,472 convention delegates on the nominating rules, which were written last week by a convention committee. Although unsuccessful, the move underscores the divisions within the Party of Lincoln during a crucial presidential year.
To win, Trump needs to capitalize on this week’s Republican convention and build on whatever momentum he is able to muster to unite the party and appeal to enough independents and moderates to pull off the biggest political upset in American history. Here are five ways Trump could plausibly begin to do this:
Tone Down Theatrics; Emphasize Substance
The time for theatrics is over. If Trump wants to be seen as presidential, this week’s national convention is a terrific opportunity to get specific on a variety of public policy issues. Trump and his supporters speaking at this week’s convention must do more than just criticize President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. To appeal to the electorate, Republicans will need to propose conservative solutions and answers. There is no shortage of ideas. Thanks to the leadership of House Republicans, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), Republicans are once again becoming the “ideas” party. Trump needs to embrace this immediately and emphatically.
Talk to Women Voters
Republicans cannot win the White House if they lose women voters. It’s that simple. This doesn’t mean pandering or embracing progressive positions for short term political gain, but it does mean proposing a rebuttal to gender wage gaps and universal pre-kindergarten proposals. This also means take the extra step of explaining how economic policies will have an immediate and meaningful impact on single mothers and those living in poverty. Trump has been turning off women voters with his careless and offensive rhetoric, but there is at least time to blunt some of Clinton’s substantial lead with women voters.
Make the Case for Making the World Safer
The recent events in Nice and Istanbul are just the latest of a long and tragic list of terrorist attacks shaking the core of the entire world left wondering what to make of this senseless violence. The United States is the indispensable country on the global stage. U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a Trump supporter and a former U.S. Army Ranger, needs to make a case why a Trump presidency would make the country and the world safer. Platitudes and fiery bluster is not enough. Millions of Americans will be tuning to watch some of the Republican Party’s convention, national security is a top concern for many of them. Trump and the Republican Party cannot afford to not take advantage of this opportunity to indict the Obama administration on its many foreign policy failures while also showcasing how things would differ on Trump’s watch.
Don’t Ignore the Demographic Trends
According to some reports, a number of Hispanic, Asian and African Americans are skipping this year’s presidential election. Support among non-white voters for the Republican Party is at an all-time low. This is a major problem for a party trying to win a presidential election with an increasingly smaller share of the white vote. Consider that Republican Mitt Romney won an overwhelming portion of the white vote in the 2012 presidential election, but still lost to Barack Obama in large part because he did so poorly among the non-white vote. It would be foolish to dismiss this reality outright. Similar to appealing to other groups, Republicans need not turn their back on conservative principles to expand its base, but rather it must recognize that it is vital to take conservative ideas to all audiences and talk about why the Republican Party is the party of opportunity. This is a message that can appeal to a broad audience.
Encourage Unity; Condemn Violence and Hateful Rhetoric
Republicans are rightly frustrated after eight years of Obama’s ill-conceived progressivism. But there is absolutely no place for violence in politics. Trump must set the tone by discouraging violence and quickly and immediately condemn any hateful and violent rhetoric that may come up from any of his supporters. Americans are a forgiving people. If Trump can assume the mantle of a serious commander in chief that values unity over division, it is possible Republicans can walk away from the national convention with some serious momentum. Tough, but not impossible.
Israel Ortega is a Senior Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter: @IzzyOrtega