Emily Duke Hargan
Monday Mornings: The Human Side of the GOP
Last week the Republican National Convention was held here in Washington, DC. I was lucky enough to attend some of the special events and spend time with friends in town for the week.
I recall attending my first Republican convention in 1996 in San Diego, CA , when Bob Dole and Jack Kemp were the Republican Nominees. I subsequently attended conventions in Philadelphia in 2000 and in New York City in 2004. Motherhood and other obligations kept me away from the conventions in St. Paul, Tampa and Cleveland but this summer I was planning to attend this year's convention in Charlotte. COVID had other plans for politics this year, and both parties put on different events.
This year both Democrats and Republicans used their convention in prime time to lay out their agenda to the American people. The DNC painted a bleak picture of the last 4 years in Trump's America and how Joe Biden will forge a new path forward for Americans. Conversely, the RNC touted all of the President's many accomplishments ranging from record-setting low unemployment pre-COVID to an America-first foreign policy agenda . For those of you watching at home, I bet you saw some things you agreed with during both weeks of programming.
Some of the speakers were open about their pain and loss like the parents of Kayla Mueller, the humanitarian worker who had been kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed by ISIS. Some warned of the coming of "swallowing the communist pill" like Maximo Alvarez, a Cuban-American businessman who had fled Cuba in search of freedom and a better life in America. And, some gave personal testimonies of life saving cancer therapies like Natalie Harp. To them, in President's Trump's America, their lives are better, safer and more prosperous. Their testimonies gave the Republican party a compelling story—not one just filled with campaign slogans and politicians spouting theories—but one with real human beings who have struggled, been hurt but who are still living the American dream.
If you have time, watch a few of these speeches from last week. Listen as they tell their stories. Remember, we all have one thing in common—we are all joined together as human beings and as Americans in this shared experience.
1. Maximo Alvarez, an immigrant from Cuba, gave an emotional speech on the first night of the Republican convention about his story of coming to the U.S.
2. Scott Dane, an Iron Range logger and trucker from Gilbert, Minnesota was among the speakers on the third night of the Republican National Convention. His remarks focused on logging as part of the 'great American story'.
3. Alice Johnson was serving life in prison for a first-time nonviolent drug offense before being pardoned by President Trump. On the last night of the convention she spoke about her experience, “I was once told that the only way I would ever be reunited with my family would be as a corpse. But by the grace of God and the compassion of President Donald John Trump, I stand before you tonight, and I assure you, I’m not a ghost. I am alive, I am well, and most importantly, I am free.”
4. The parents of 26-year-old American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who died in 2015 while being held captive by ISIS, delivered a raw and emotional speech on the last night of the Republican National Convention about her capture and torture in Syria.
5. Ann Dorn spoke about her deceased husband, a police officer in St. Louis killed by 'protestors' in the wake of the George Floyd shooting. Of the entire fourth night besides the President's speech, this was the most compelling speech.
Mrs. Dorn said, “They shot and killed Dave in cold blood and live-streamed the execution and his last moments on this earth. Dave’s grandson was watching the video on Facebook in real-time, not realizing he was watching his own grandfather dying on the sidewalk.”
She went on, “They do not safeguard black lives. They destroy them. President Trump understands this and has offered federal help to restore order in our communities. In a time when police departments are short on resources and manpower, we need that help... President Trump knows we need more Davids in our communities, not fewer.”
These are real people who have real stories to tell America. Some of these testimonies you cannot watch without crying. I know I can't watch the Mueller's speak about their daughter's suffering without sobbing, and without recalling their message, "As long as we refuse to break, we will be great."
I pray this for our great country—in honor of Kayla Mueller and in honor of all these heroes who have struggled with pain, suffering and have still endured. They are an inspiration.
May we not refuse to break.
Stay tuned later this week for our profile of Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, NY-21. She is a rising star in the Republican party, and perhaps just the type of strong voice the party needs to unite the divide in America.