Donald Trump

The RNC's "Make America Work Again" Evening Had No Plans to Make America Work Again

No jobs plans, little economic policy at a night devoted to jobs and the economy.

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credit: Riccardo Savi/Sipa USA/Newscom

The second night of the Republican National Convention was supposed to be built around the theme of "Make America Work Again." In other words, after Monday night's speeches built around immigration and national security ("Make America Safe Again") this was the night that Republicans were going to focus on jobs and the economy.

But the primetime speeches last night featured essentially nothing in the way of plans to create jobs or grow the economy. Several of the speeches failed to mention jobs or the economy at all. Instead, they focused on trashing Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, who they portrayed as criminal and possibly a worshipper of Satan. In doing so, they offered further evidence that the Republican party has totally given up on even the pretense of engagement with domestic policy. 

The opening speech by convention co-chair Sharon Day was an extended broadside against Hillary Clinton, with a handful of shots at her husband, former president Bill Clinton thrown in. Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White said that Donald Trump "supports businesses of all sizes" and "make it possible for them to grow and succeed," but had no evidence for this assertion. His idea, basically, was that Donald Trump likes businesses. That…is not a plan.

Similarly, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison spent most of his speech bashing Hillary Clinton for her dubious use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. That's a fair criticism, but it has nothing to do with jobs or the economy. The closest Hutchison came to a domestic policy plan was a declaration that "we need a President that values the role of the states, will destroy ISIS, and jump-start our economy." That's, like, 12 percent of a plan. Maybe. If I'm being charitable.

Hutchison was followed by Arkansas Lt. Gov. Leslie Rutledge, who also spent most of her time declaring that Hillary Clinton is really and truly the worst. (Sample line: "That woman has more baggage than Chicago O'Hare.") Rutledge noted, almost as an aside, that "we"—presumably Republicans—"care about jobs, the economy and national security," and left at that. The GOP cares about jobs and the economy! Caring, I will remind you, is also not a plan.

Rutledge was followed by former U.S. Attorney General who laid out a not-particularly-exciting but essentially accurate case against Hillary Clinton focused, again, on her email use. Regardless of the merits—and I think the merits of the case against Clinton are indeed quite strong—this seemed beside the point: Unless the GOP's jobs plan is built around creating work for a fairly small number of political hacks and lawyers, this is not going to make America work again.

After Rutledge, a waterproofing company owner and Donald Trump supporter from Brooklyn named Andy Wist spoke. He explained that actor Adam West, and not he, was Batman. Also, he liked Trump. That's pretty much it. 

Sen. Ron Johnson came on to warn that Hillary Clinton was weak on terror. Chris Cox of the National Rifle Association's political arm warned that Hillary Clinton was weak on guns. Golfer Natalie Gulbis, currently ranked 492nd in the world, spoke about how Donald Trump encouraged her to think of herself not as an athlete, but as a "business person."

Senator Mitch McConnell, one of the GOP's most prominent sitting legislators and turtle look-a-likes, barely touched on anything like a jobs plan. The closest he came was saying that as president, Donald Trump would sign a bill allowing the construction of the Keystone Pipeline, and would allow Republicans to follow through with their promises to repeal Obamacare. (It's worth noting here that Trump's poor and wildly shifting understanding of health care policy—he has said positive things about single payer—leaves open a lot of questions about the sort of health care he might actually pursue as president.)

Even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, perhaps the Republican party's most successful and influential policy entrepreneur, had almost nothing specific to say, or even reference, about jobs and economic policy. He spent most of his speech asking—practically pleading—with the GOP to unite around Trump, because Hillary Clinton was unacceptable. The same goes for Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, who spent the entirety of his speech acting as prosecutor and laying out an extended case against Hillary Clinton. Granted, I suppose this could be his job in a hypothetical Donald Trump administration. 

Donald Trump, Jr. gave a speech that actually referenced several policies (Dodd Frank, school choice). There mere existence of references to specific legislation or policy areas made his speech the stand out address of the night, which, to be sure, is an extremely low bar. But references are not themselves plans or even the beginnings of plans; a president cannot legislate merely by acknowledging that policy exists. 

Perhaps the best case that Trump would create jobs came from Kerry Woolard, who described how well Trump has run the winery she manages. It was still not much of a case: He pays attention, she said, and asks good questions. That is hardly a demonstration of Trump's economic policy acumen or how he would act as president. Also, according to its website, that winery "is not owned, managed or affiliated with Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization or any of their affiliates," and therefore may not be the best example.

You will not be surprised to hear that the rest of the speakers—including Trump's daughter Tiffany, neurosurgeon and failed presidential candidate Ben Carson, and soap opera star Kimberlin Brown—did not have much to say about creating jobs or boosting the economy either. Carson did, however, link Hillary Clinton to progressive activist guru Saul Alinsky, and note that Alinsky "acknowledges Lucifer." 

Just so there's no confusion: None of these things are plans in the sense that offer or even suggest a set of specific, plausible, debatable steps that a president might take. That's what a plan is. A plan is not the end result you hope to achieve; it's a description of the particulars of how you intend to produce that result. 

There are plenty of reasons to oppose Hillary Clinton, and although I would personally take a pass on the Alinsky/Lucifer connection, Republicans touched on more than a few of the good reasons to be wary of their Democratic rival. But that still totally fails to respond to respond to the essential policy question that was supposedly the topic of discussion for the evening. "Hillary Clinton is bad and should maybe be in jail" isn't a jobs plan—and there's little evidence that the Republican party under Trump has anything else in the works. 

You can blame Trump, an unusually vacuous and unserious candidate, for some of this. But this tendency existed in Republican party politics existed long before before Trump arrived. The GOP has spent the last decade and half stubbornly refusing to engage with the basics of domestic policy, even on issues its members purport to prioritize, preferring Reaganite-mantras and anti-Obama slogans instead. Last night was proof that the GOP has wholly embraced a post-policy approach to politics, ceding the space entirely to Democratic opponents. We're all worse off for it. 

(This post has been updated.) 

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  1. Oh, don’t worry. They have a secret plan to fuel the public sector job market.

    1. A double secret plan?

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  2. How was the party?

  3. THIS IS NOT THE MOURNING LYNX!

  4. where muh links @

  5. plz need lnks 🙁

    1. X is jonesin’ fer the links

  6. The Suderman’s “Make America Work Again” Post Had No Links to Make HnR Work Again

    Not even an alt-text plan!

  7. Well fuck. What ever shall we do without a central plan to “make America work again”?

    1. How can we make America work again without the links!

  8. The GOP is America’s middle manager?

  9. Hey guess what?

    Trump is going to be just like more of the same as far as the GOP is concerned. A do nothing, pie in the sky, bullshit artist.

    1. You don’t say!

    2. No, really?

    3. He’d make the links post on time

      1. That would make America great again.

    4. “Trump is going to be just like more of the same as far as the GOP is concerned.”

      Maybe, but I bet Hillary would be an exceptional President!

  10. ” His idea, basically, was that Donald Trump likes businesses. That?is not a plan.”

    I don’t want the government or the President to “have a plan”.

    We’ve had decades of government plans.
    Government needs to get the hell out of the way.

    Therefore, a President who “likes business” is plan enough for me.

    1. This

    2. I’d prefer a President who hates government, but yeah, probably an improvement.

    3. Although, if the GOP wants to endorse “Make America Work Again”,
      I can get behind that if they mean kick those lazy fuckers off Welfare and get to work.

    4. Well, there is a libertarian plan for job growth. It involves opening up trade, killing corporate income taxes and getting rid of all the bullshit regulations that prevent expansion of businesses/starting new businesses.

      1. I would file all of that under my
        “get the hell out of the way”

        1. And that’s a plan. Especially since it involves a whole lot of legislative changes, you kinda need a political plan to achieve it.

          1. Point taken.

    5. Of course it’s been pointed out that liking businesses is not the same as liking business. But your point is well taken; one gets the impression from the Republicans that they like business in general, while the Democrats are always complaining about business. That doesn’t always work out in policy as it should, but the general tendency makes itself felt strongly over time. The Democrat-controlled states are driving business into Republican ones.

  11. Suderman pines for a “Five Year Plan”.

    1. Yeah. This shit is getting laughable.

    2. You can be a TPP man without a five year plan.
      Trumps got no plan.
      He’s no top man!

    3. I have a Five Year Plan for jobs:

      1. Get out of the way of the private sector

      2. Er…

      3. Profit!

    4. He also pines for the fjords.

  12. Maybe the reason staff finally got fed up with all the infantile bullshit from the peanut gallery of retards.

    What will you do if there is no Links, move to Canada?

    1. NO…RUFUS IS ALREADY THERE!

      “the peanut gallery of retards”

      Shriek, is that you??

      1. It was my nod to the poor, dumb bastard.

  13. I don’t really understand complaining from a supposed libertarian for the government not having a “jobs plans”.

    1. If they are claiming that they are going to put Americans back to work, then they should have some idea of how that will happen that they can articulate. Abolishing minimum wage and business regulations, for example, is a job creating plan.

      1. He advocated reducing the regulator burden and reforming the tax code .

        That’s a better plan than some micro target tax credit bs that Suderman pines for.

        1. Yes it is. I can’t stand to listen to that shit, so I have no idea what they have been saying.

    2. “I don’t really understand complaining from a supposed libertarian for the government not having a “jobs plans”.”

      The article makes a lot more sense if you don’t suppose Suderman is a Libertarian.

  14. Geez, trump has been officially the nominee for less than 12 hours and the wheels are coming off HnR and morning links.. has someone checked on the reason staff?

    1. All that sugar in Cosmos makes for one hell of a hangover.

    2. They’re fighting over who gets to write “The Libertarian Case for Hillary” article.

      1. I guessing Gillespie gets it.

        1. I don’t really have a good idea, but someone should really start a betting pool on the subject. A betting pool would Make America Great Again!

      2. South Park already wrote the article.

        Burn it down to the ground.

      3. Even Reason would have a hard time with that one.

      4. This gets funnier every time you say it, WTF.

  15. Great, no links.

    Not that I mind. I can quit any time.

  16. “the Republican party has totally given up on even the pretense of engagement with domestic policy”

    NO JERBS PLAN??!!!

    If only we could get a plan from our politicians.

    *headdesk*

  17. The lack of links means I’ve actually been working from 9 AM today. WORKING!

  18. Where are the morning links?

    Do I need to post my Hitler video again? 🙂

  19. Can the RNC make Reason work again?

  20. Can somebody hold me and tell me it’s ok even if it isn’t?

    1. Thank you.

    2. Reason is taking a note out of the Twitter playbook! If there’s no links there’s no tawdry OTs, no SF stories, no longwinded tangential rants. #FreeLinks!

  21. “Hillary Clinton is bad and should maybe be in jail” isn’t a jobs plan

    At most, it’s just a ‘job’ plan.

  22. OK, guys, you’ve had your fun, but it’s not amusing any more…just give me a couple links, man, just a couple…

    1. I have a meeting in a hour to kick off a new project – but all I’m doing right now is hitting refresh.

      1. You named your dick “refresh”?

    2. Maybe they are all being detained for convention shenanigans

  23. I would personally take a pass on the Alinsky/Lucifer connection

    At least Lucifer brought light.

  24. Ok, what is Reason’s criteria for Top Stories? Is it just most recent story featured on their homepage? I would hardly consider this a top story..

    1. In a world without links, who even knows anymore, man?

    2. It’s whatever they think will keep them on the good side of the cool kids.

  25. RNC Speakers: Make America Work Again!
    Public: How do you plan to do that?
    Speakers: Um…Hillary sucks.
    Public: Agreed, but what is your plan?
    Speakers: Hillary is soft on terror!
    Public: Still looking for an economic plan..
    Speakers: Hillary hates guns!
    Public: Jobs plan, people!
    Speakers: Um..Donald Trump likes business!
    Public: I’m outta here.

    1. The same conversation, but with Trump supporters:

      RNC Speakers: Make America Work Again!
      Supporters: Tell us your plan!
      Speakers: Um…Hillary sucks.
      Supporters: Awesome! What else?
      Speakers: Hillary is soft on terror!
      Supporters: That should create jobs!
      Speakers: Hillary hates guns!
      Supporters: That’ll reduce taxes!
      Speakers: Um..Donald Trump likes business!
      Supporters: And we have an economic plan!

      1. Yeah, pretty much. If this isn’t full retard, I don’t know what is.

  26. I hear there’s a fence that’s shovel ready.

  27. I read the title as saying “Make America Worse Again” before doing a double-take. It didn’t really change my interpretation anyway.

  28. this tendency existed in Republican party politics existed long before before Trump arrived. The GOP has spent the last decade and half stubbornly refusing to engage with the basics of domestic policy, even on issues its members purport to prioritize, preferring Reaganite-mantras and anti-Obama slogans instead.

    That’s been the tendency, not just of the GOP, but of major parties generally, and of major candidates, for as long as I know. It’s a well-proven formula. The more specific you get, the more enemies you make, and it’s not quite made up for by the friends you make. There’s a tendency for voters to project onto slogans their own hopes & desires, so being vague is always best. Whenever you hear specifics, you know they were from a minor party or a hopeless “movement” candidate.

    1. Sadly, I agree. I imagine we’ll hear just as many ‘specifics’ from the DNC.

      I’m also curious how the RNC, or the DNC, can create any jobs at all given that the only direct path for them to do so is to employ more people in the government apparatus. Obviously, the intent when people say this should be economic policy but I’m not convinced that is actually the case. I think what they really mean is ‘we need more people working as regulators on those who do things’ versus ‘we need more people who actually do things’.

  29. “Caring, I will remind you, is also not a plan.”

    When I was in the Army, we used to say that “hope” is not a course of action. But, it has worked pretty well for the current president. Maybe “caring” is as close to a plan as Trump needs to get. It’s all that the average voter is concerned about.

  30. I disagree.

    Paul Ryan made an economic point with his comment on the inability of progressives to promote progress. Their fixation on sideshows, such as global warming and transgender bathrooms, bespeaks a mindset that lost all moorings.

    Secondly, the fact that few at the podium have echoed Trump’s crazy illiberal views on trade is also a good thing. The less said the better.

    Finally, a little blue collar connection is a good thing too, part of Donald Junior’s theme. If we were all sufficiently rich, we could specialize. But most of us aren’t. There are real joys and savings in being able to do it yourself or, at the very least, knowing someone who can.

    1. Donald Junior…blue collar connection? What?

    2. Progressives as the one with a fixation on transgender bathrooms? I guess that’s one way to look at it. Alternately, one might point out that the whole discussion is being forced by Republicans who keep creating heavy-handed laws to dictate what bathroom they must use. Or, maybe we’re already taking it for granted that conservatives are also a mindset that lost all moorings?

      I certainly agree that it’s a sideshow, but I’m not sure I agree on which carny is running it.

      1. No it was leftists creating heavy handed laws forcing everyone to accommodate trans as the trans person wants regardless of their anatomy.

        Were you not paying attention to how the issue developed or are you willfully dishonest?

  31. Apparently, throwing Hillary in jail is a jobs plan…

  32. Suderman sounds like a man obsessed. You can see blood coming out of his eyes. Blood coming out of his wherever.

  33. Bashing the Clintons has kept Dick Morris inexplicably employed for 20 years. Maybe that’s their jobs plan.

  34. The only way you increase jobs is cut regulations and corporate taxes.

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  37. I’m sure a very complete and comprehensive plan will be issued at the Libertarian National Convention to address this issue……
    What, the convention is past, and it wasn’t addressed…….
    I am shocked to find hypocrisy within the pages of Reason!

  38. But what about all the brick layers for the Trump Wall(tm)?

  39. “Even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, perhaps the Republican party’s most successful and influential policy entrepreneur, had almost nothing specific to say, or even reference, about jobs and economic policy.”

    If you consider Ryan as an entrepreneur as opposed to an establishment hack, you invalidate yourself.

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