Donald Trump's RNC acceptance speech is eerily similar to the one Richard Nixon gave in 1968

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Donald Trump's campaign has made no secret of the fact that his Republican presidential nomination acceptance speech was modeled in part on Richard Nixon's address to the 1968 Republican National Convention.

That's right, they openly compared their candidate to Richard Nixon, the only president ever to resign the office in disgrace. No one forced them to do this. Looking at the two speeches side by side, it is clear that the Trump team was not kidding around.

Trump's speech bore strong thematic similarities to Nixon's. While Trump didn't directly quote or cite Nixon, his address shared many of the former president's focuses on "law and order," respect for America and the idea of an ignored, forgotten American people.


Law and Order

Both Trump and Nixon came out swinging strongly to paint a picture of America as a lawless, crime-ridden wasteland in need of a savior.

After a short introduction where he thanked his primary competitors and offered thoughts for the ailing former President Dwight Eisenhower, Nixon got right into it:

As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame.

We hear sirens in the night.

We see Americans dying on distant battlefields abroad.

We see Americans hating each other; fighting each other; killing each other at home.

And as we see and hear these things, millions of Americans cry out in anguish.

Did we come all this way for this?

Trump wasted even less time, launching into his description of "America In Crisis" in the fourth paragraph of his speech.

Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims.

I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored.

The most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its own citizens. Any government that fails to do so is a government unworthy to lead.

It is finally time for a straightforward assessment of the state of our nation.

In 1968, there were uprisings in many cities as black people demanded justice and equal rights in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Similarly, the high profile killings of black people in the last few years have led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for police reform.


Trump's speech never once addressed issues of race in law enforcement, choosing to focus on crimes against police instead.

I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country to get the job done. In this race for the White House, I am the Law And Order candidate. The irresponsible rhetoric of our President, who has used the pulpit of the presidency to divide us by race and color, has made America a more dangerous environment for everyone.


Nixon made a similar move, although he didn't dance around so much as to what he was talking about.

And to those who say that law and order is the code word for racism, there and here is a reply:

Our goal is justice for every American. If we are to have respect for law in America, we must have laws that deserve respect.


The message from both candidates was clear, and that is racism is just not a problem.

Respect for America

"Make America Great Again." The very idea means that America used to be great and isn't anymore, and it's a big part of Trump's campaign. He frequently hit on the idea in his speech that America has lost stature in the world and needs to be restored.

The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo. As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect. This will all change in 2017.


Nixon had similar concerns about America's place in the world.

I see a day when Americans are once again proud of their flag. When once again at home and abroad, it is honored as the world's greatest symbol of liberty and justice.

I see a day when the President of the United States is respected and his office is honored because it is worthy of respect and worthy of honor.


In one of the most eerie similarities between the two speeches, both Trump and Nixon chose to use the example of a U.S. Navy vessel being seized by a foreign power to demonstrate America's diminished stature. The incidents happened almost 50 years apart, and really weren't that big a deal.


Not only have our citizens endured domestic disaster, but they have lived through one international humiliation after another. We all remember the images of our sailors being forced to their knees by their Iranian captors at gunpoint.



And I say to you tonight that when respect for the United States of America falls so low that a fourth-rate military power, like North Korea, will seize an American naval vessel on the high seas, it is time for new leadership to restore respect for the United States of America.


If you take out the names of the countries, it's difficult to tell which line comes from which candidate.

The Silent Majority

It would be another year before Nixon would specifically say the words "the silent majority," but the idea that there was a majority of Americans who were being drowned out by a vocal, trouble-making minority, was on display in his 1968 speech.

It is another voice. It is the quiet voice in the tumult and the shouting.

It is the voice of the great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans — the non-shouters; the non-demonstrators.

They are not racists or sick; they are not guilty of the crime that plagues the land.


No one would ever characterize Donald Trump's ardent supporters as quiet, but he invokes a similar idea that he represents an under-represented majority.

I have visited the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals. These are the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice.


What this comes down to for both Trump and Nixon is restoring America's greatness. One might even saying Making America Great Again. Trump did, anyway. Several times.

To all Americans tonight, in all our cities and towns, I make this promise: We Will Make America Strong Again.

We Will Make America Proud Again.

We Will Make America Safe Again.

And We Will Make America Great Again.

Nixon never came up with quite as catchy a phrase.

The time has come for us to leave the valley of despair and climb the mountain so that we may see the glory of the dawn — a new day for America, and a new dawn for peace and freedom in the world.


That won't fit on a hat.

Correction: an earlier version of this article said that Richard Nixon was one of the presidents who had been impeached. In fact, he resigned before formal impeachment proceedings had concluded.

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