You could see the outlines of a bold, different image of the Republican Party in this year’s convention speaker lineup, spotlighting people who the audience knew from their accomplishments outside the realm of politics. Think of Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal; Marcus Luttrell, retired U.S. Navy SEAL and author of the book Lone Survivor; Dana White, the president of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), professional golfer Natalie Gulbis and astronaut Eileen Collins. Figures that might make someone say, “oh, I didn’t know that person was a Republican.”
Even if these celebrities couldn’t quite make the case that being a Republican was cool – which is how the Democratic Party uses their numerous celebrity allies — they could make the case that being a Republican was perfectly normal, that it wasn’t an abhorrent intolerant mental disorder, as the Democrats and their media allies insist.
Even the figures that weren’t necessary natural public speakers, like small business owner Michelle Van Etten showcased an important point, that the Republican Party and its agenda had something to offer every American.
Maybe that will come through, maybe it won’t. Besides Thiel, most of the celebrities didn’t get the ideal speaking times and slots. Obviously, a lot of slots went to Republican elected officials. And there were plenty of figures who were familiar to conservative audiences: Sheriff Joe Arpaio, radio host Laura Ingraham, NRA-ILA Director Chris Cox.
We’ll know in a couple days if the convention generated a bump in the polls for Trump. Even if it doesn’t, the strategy of spotlighting extraordinary Americans, explaining why they feel at home in the Republican Party is a pretty good idea for future conventions.