I’m not one to tune in to CNN for hours on end. But last Monday night, and for the next three nights, I couldn’t look away. From the President and First Lady’s keynote addresses, to groups like Mothers of the Movement, to the always inspiring Rev. Dr. William Barber II, to Hillary Clinton herself, I was absolutely captivated by the 133 speakers at the Democratic National Convention.
The DNC was a unicorn of an event. Never in my life have I seen so many people talk about helping one another and celebrating our differences, rather than using them as scapegoats for our nation’s problems. And it wasn’t just for show. The degree of hate that Donald Trump exhibits at every opportunity, along with recurring acts of hate between police officers and black men, at nightclubs and places of worship, is so horrifying that it has made many of us turn sharply and earnestly towards love, not just for each other, but for our country.
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again,” Michelle Obama preached. President Obama added, “I promise you, our strength, our greatness… doesn’t depend on any one person. And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election – the meaning of our democracy.”
This country’s tolerance for hate is quickly diminishing.
When former Reagan speechwriter Doug Elmets admits that “this year’s Republican platform is the most alarming I’ve ever seen,” that its “anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-women positions… do not represent the views of most Americans,” it means something.
That Elmets will, for the first time, be voting for a Democrat rather than help Trump spew his hate sends a message. And the message is that most of us know someone who is an immigrant, who is gay, who is Muslim, who is a hard-working woman deserving of equal pay for equal work.
In fact, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY) said, “Unless Republicans are all Native Americans, then they are immigrants too.” We all are.
In this light, Trump’s ethno-nationalism is positively nonsensical. That’s why, this Tuesday, Rep. Richard Hanna (NY) became the first Republican member of Congress to back Clinton. There will be more.
A wise person once told me, “Hate is not ‘hate.’ Hate is ‘I don’t know.’”
Because we all know someone in these groups that Trump considers “other”—anyone who isn’t a wealthy, straight, white, Christian, American, male—we don’t want to hate them. They’re our family, our friends, our teachers, our coworkers, our neighbors, our doctors. I could go on.
At the DNC, we watched former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, retired Marine Gen. John Allen, retired Rear Adm. John Hutson, and former Marine Corps Captain Kristen Kavanaugh express grave concern for America’s security under Trump.
“The military is defined by discipline. Leadership. Integrity,” explained Kavanaugh. “Those are the very qualities that Donald Trump lacks… When he says he would expand, torture, kill civilians, or force the military to commit war crimes he’s defying the values that every service member is taught.”
Trump who, if elected president, would be the commander-in-chief of America’s military, will do exactly the opposite of all that our military stands for. He will turn our military into a massive vehicle for hate.
The private citizens who spoke at the DNC, as David Axelrod noted on CNN, were in many ways more impactful than the politicians. Khizr Khan, father of Captain Humayun Kahn, an American-Muslim soldier who died serving the US Army after the 9/11 attacks, pulled a copy of the constitution out of his pocket and asked Trump, “Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.”
Trump’s initial response was, “If you look at his wife, she was standing there... She probably wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.” And then he brought up terrorism. As always, Trump highlights the things that divide us, rather than what unites us.
Maybe you won’t believe it, but I can be cynical about people, government, and goodness in general. But hearing one thoughtful, concerned speech after another made me feel hopeful.
To believe in America, at this time, is to believe in Hillary Clinton. The alternative and everything he stands for is positively un-American.
While Clinton has, according to Obama, “never forgotten who she’s fighting for,” Trump has fought for no one but himself, yet still insists, “I’ve made a lot of sacrifices.” USA Today reported that at least 60 lawsuits and hundreds of other government filings document painters, plumbers, waiters, bartenders, dishwashers, real estate brokers, law firms, and more accusing Trump of failing to pay them for their work. “Trump University” is a complete scam.
Obama noted that “Hillary Clinton is respected around the world. Not just by leaders, but by the people they represent.” How do you think Trump is viewed around the world?
All of this is why I’m truly confused by Bernie or Bust. Maybe Clinton isn’t your first choice Democratic candidate for president. I’m sorry you didn’t get what you wanted. But voting for a third party candidate, particularly Green Party candidate Jill Stein, as Trump recently said, helps Trump by drawing votes away from Clinton. Not voting could also help Trump. And if you’re actually considering voting for Trump then you never believed in democracy to begin with.
Clinton directly addressed Bernie Sanders supporters in her DNC speech saying, “I want you to know, I’ve heard you. Your cause is our cause. Our country needs your ideas, energy, and passion.”
I know what you’re going to say—she’s lying!—but I trust that the woman who has conducted multiple listening tours throughout her political career is going to, in fact, listen. As Jamie Fuller recently wrote for MTV.com, the difference between Clinton and Trump is the difference between a candidate who listens and a candidate who seeks listeners.
The only question that matters for anyone who is not planning on voting or unsure of who to vote for on November 8th is this: Do you want a president who aims to “heal the divides in our country,” or one who exploits these divides and champions hate among us?