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Last Thursday evening Donald Trump gave his speech to the Republican National Convention accepting the party’s presidential nomination. We asked LSE’s experts to comment on the speech. 


Peter TrubowitzWhether Trump was able to convince undecided voters remains to be seen – Peter Trubowitz

Donald Trump had a lot riding on last night’s acceptance speech at the Republican Convention. His biggest challenge was reaching out to undecided voters, especially white college educated voters. These voters, many of whom are nominally Republican, have real doubts about Trump’s views on race, immigration, and civil liberties.  He made some effort to address the last concern in his speech last night, showing more tolerance of LGBT issues than we’ve seen before from a Republican presidential nominee. Whether it was enough to make the sale with these voters last night remains to be seen. But given how dark and brooding the speech was on the issues of immigration and law and order, I’m skeptical.

Now that the Republican convention is behind us, what can we expect from Hillary Clinton and the Democrats next week at their convention? Clinton needs to accomplish two things next week: lock in the support of Sanders’ supporters and to the extent possible, reach out to those very same white college educated voters who traditionally vote Republican but are have doubts about a Trump presidency.  These are somewhat contradictory goals and thus no easy task. Clinton’s credibility with both groups is her weakness; her experience and tolerance her strength.  She needs to reassure Sanders supporters that she is not in Wall Street’s hip pocket, while convincing voters who might otherwise vote Republican, that she is the better, more decent and reliable choice. Stay tuned…

Peter Trubowitz is Director of the LSE US Centre and Professor of International Relations.

Sierra Smucker 80x108The elephant in the room: Americans’ access to guns – Sierra Smucker

Trump made the case for his presidency by playing on fear, specifically fear born out of recent mass shootings in the United States. Trump’s attempts to link these tragedies to immigrants and ‘terrorists’ pointedly overlooked the elephant in the room: American’s access to guns. Unable to allow public fear to go untapped for political gain, Trump has used various tactics to link fears about the availability of weapons designed for mass causalities to his chosen outsider group.

In his #RNCinCLE speech last night, this outsider group was immigrants, particularly those from Central and South America. Trump cited figures that sound like an ad for greater gun violence prevention policy (“In the president’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 have been the victims of shootings this year alone. And almost 4,000 have been killed in the Chicago area since he took office”), and followed this up by linking these statistics to rising numbers of immigrants. In another speech a few days ago, it was Muslims (often American citizens).

Americans are frightened by the seemingly endless stream of mass shootings in the United States and are understandably looking for a solution to the problem. But Trump’s words obscure the truth about violence in the United States by only focusing on acts of violence committed by those that fit his political narrative. He does not mention the scores of mass shootings committed by non-Muslim, white American men or the high rates of domestic terrorism in homes across the country where women are abused and tormented by their partners on a daily basis.

But any attempt to address the safety of Americans without a discussion of comprehensive gun reform is hollow. With over 30,000 Americans dying from gun related causes every year, far more than terrorism, we simply cannot afford to waste time blaming others for our own lack of security.

Sierra Smucker is PhD student at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and Visiting Student at the LSE US Centre.

Featured image: Donald Trump Credit: Gage Skidmore (Flickr, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

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Note:  This article gives the views of the authors, and not the position of USAPP – American Politics and Policy, nor the London School of Economics.

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