The theme was “Make America Work Again” on the second night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, but there wasn’t much talk of working or jobs.
West Virginia senator Shelley Moore Capito talked about the importance of coal mining in her state, but even Trump can’t change the fact that coal is losing more ground to natural gas than regulation. Chris Cox from the National Rifle Association spoke, but it wasn’t at all clear what a gun-rights lobbyist had to offer on the employment front.
A pair of Trump’s former rivals for the nomination also spoke, but one of them, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, turned his speech into a mock trial of Hillary Clinton, while the other, neurosurgeon/slam poet Ben Carson, mostly talked about Lucifer.
But then Kimberlin Brown took the stage.
Brown, a former television actress turned avocado farmer, might have been an unexpected voice on the issue that has galvanized many a Trump supporter: the flow of US factory jobs to labor markets overseas. But Brown said she understood the plight of union workers whose jobs went abroad. As an avocado farmer, she said, she saw how a flood of cheap avocados from abroad put other farmers out of business and forced them to chop down their groves.
For a minute there, it finally seemed the convention was producing a call for something specific—a tariff on imported avocados, perhaps.
But she stopped herself short. “I’ll leave the decisions about trade policies and how you balance the many economic interests of our nation to others,” Brown said, “but this much I do know: Donald Trump raised concerns on behalf of working people before the Washington elites did.”
Today (June 20) the theme at the RNC shifts to ”Make America First Again.” It’s anyone guess how tonight’s speakers will interpret it.