Let’s be real, the warm-up acts are never the draw. For every Jimi Hendrix opening for the Monkees (true story) there’s, well, every other opening act you’ve ever sat through to get to the main event.
But the Republican National Convention has, for better or worse, managed to flip that on its head. The most memorable speakers, so far, have not been the stars.
On Monday, Nikki Haley and Tim Scott did great. But Monday night’s most important moments came from Rep. Vernon Jones and Mark and Patricia McCloskey. Jones talked about supporting Donald Trump and what kind of havoc that wreaked in his own life. The McCloskeys spoke of being ordinary people who had been threatened at their home by the mob we see on our TVs. They spoke for the millions of Americans watching the lawlessness continue unabated.
On Tuesday, First Lady Melania Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered fine enough speeches. Melania touted school choice but otherwise delivered a staid speech. Pompeo’s had an exciting backdrop, Jerusalem, and he recounted Trump accomplishments in the Middle East.
But the speech of the night belonged to Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic teenager who nearly had his life destroyed when a short video of him wearing a MAGA hat and interacting with a Native American protester went viral. Sandmann sued CNN, NBC, the Washington Post and other outlets for defaming him. He ended up settling for undisclosed amounts.
Sandmann’s speech was a reminder to Americans that anyone with a cell phone can tape them and shop the clip to news outlets who will run with it if it fits their narrative. It tore into cancel culture but also the insane liberal media bias that remains as, if not more, pervasive as ever.
‘The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode,’ Sandmann said, describing his viral moment. ‘They did so without ever researching the full video of the incident; without ever investigating Mr Philips’s motives; or without ever asking me for my side of the story. And do you know why? Because the truth wasn’t important.’
Sandmann could have been rejected from colleges, stopped from getting a job, and generally had his life upended because of what the media casually did to him. He spoke to and for Americans who know the same can easily happen to them.
Donald Trump does best when he runs with the stories of these regular people. 2020 might be different than 2016, but the concept of the forgotten person turning to Trump is the same. The convention did well to highlight them and show they’re still with him.