SCHILLING: Trump Debuts A Winning Message For 2020

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Terry Schilling American Principles Project
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Last week, the president officially kicked off his 2020 reelection campaign in Florida with a speech previewing many of the issues and themes he is likely to focus on in the coming months. However, one part of his address stood out as especially important in drawing a contrast with his eventual Democratic opponent.

“Don’t ever forget, this election is about you,” he said. “It is about your family, your future, and the fate of your country … we believe that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the true American way.”

Encapsulated in this small section is what has made President Trump such a unique political leader in this era and what is likely to propel him to victory again in 2020, provided he stands by this vision.

Four years ago, when he was beginning his first run for the White House, Trump quickly rose to the top of the GOP presidential primary field because he articulated a message many voters were not used to hearing from standard Republican leaders. On the economy, for example, rather than echo the typical GOP talking points about “job creators” and GDP growth, Trump focused on the plight of working Americans whom elites had left behind, promising to pursue an “America first” agenda which would directly benefit them.

In particular, he honed in on renegotiating trade deals and stemming the flow of illegal immigration — two concrete proposals that flew in the face of Republican orthodoxy but proved very popular with the electorate at large.

On cultural issues, Trump similarly broke from the traditional Republican playbook. Rather than downplay or ignore these issues, as so many other previous GOP leaders had done, Trump embraced them wholeheartedly, realizing the advantage they provided him versus the radically progressive positions held by most Democrats. His commitments to protect the liberty of religious Americans and defend the lives of the unborn were a critical strategic component of what ultimately became a winning campaign.

Now, four years later, it’s become clear these were not empty promises. Trump has indeed prioritized the agenda he committed to in 2016 — reworking some of our nation’s biggest trade agreements to better advantage American workers, fighting an intransigent Congress on immigration policy, and enacting numerous administration rule changes to promote religious liberty and pro-life goals. Although there is no doubt much work that still needs to be done, it is not for a lack of effort on the president’s part. He has been nothing short of a champion for conservatives on these issues.

It also seems clear based on last week’s announcement speech that Trump is still hyper-aware of the reasons so many voters chose him in the last election. Most Americans are not interested in an economic technocrat but rather a practical leader who can make the economy work for them — an economy which respects the “dignity of work and the pride of a paycheck” and seeks to make these things available to all.

Americans are also not interested in a culturally progressive utopia but rather a society in which “faith and family” are highly valued and communities can flourish without the heavy hand of government. Although seems like common sense, it is about to become apparent how very distinct it is when 20 of Trump’s would-be challengers participate in the first Democratic presidential primary debates this week.

As Democratic candidates jockey to see who can advocate for spending the most taxpayer dollars on late-term abortions, reparations for rich gay men, and some version of the socialist Green New Deal to combat “climate change,” the president would be smart to stick to the message he laid out. If he does, a victory in 2020 is inevitable.

Terry Schilling (@Schilling1776) is the executive director at American Principles Project, a conservative nonprofit dedicated to putting human dignity at the heart of public policy.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.