I wrote about Trump’s speech nomination acceptance speech earlier today – I was impressed with his speech in terms of its political effectiveness, but I still think he’s a problematic candidate – but the real highlight of the RNC convention for me was Peter Thiel’s speech.
You can watch it in full below. It’s short, and well worth your time.
Thiel, for those of you who don’t know, is a libertarian-minded tech billionaire. He co-founded PayPal. He was an early investor in Facebook and sits on the company’s board to this day. He’s also prone to controversial initiatives like urging kids not to go to college and funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against the digital slime merchants at Gawker.
[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all I am proud to be an American,” he told the crowd.[/mks_pullquote]
He gave the best speech of the RNC convention, I thought, for a number of reasons.
“I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all I am proud to be an American,” he told the crowd. That earned him a standing ovation. I was happy to see it. The social conservatives in charge of the Republican party’s platform maintained some of the party’s past animosity towards gays in its planks, but I like to think the crowd’s reaction to Thiel is more indicative of where rank-and-file Republicans are on homosexuality.
He also teed off on the culture wars. “When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union. And we won. Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom,” he told the delegates. “This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?”
Sound advice. Too often we conservatives get derailed (with an assist from conservative media outlets like Fox News) by the daily outrage. We spend so much time down in the weeds on these issues that we lose sight of the larger policy battles that the left has been winning for some time now. I’m not exempting myself from this criticism, but it needs to stop.
Thiel also talked about conservatives and their fascination with foreign entanglements. “Instead of going to Mars, we have invaded the Middle East,” he said. Not an unfair point.
The Republican party is changing, and that scares some people. What the rise of Trump represents is something very different from what Republicanism has been since the Reagan years. But if the change that’s coming is in line with what Thiel – who is, we should not forget, supporting Trump enthusiastically – then perhaps we should welcome it.