In full view of the nation, Donald Trump’s acceptance speech, which was supposed to be the crowning glory of the Republican National Convention 2016, came off sounding more like a speech worthy of the Third Reich than of anybody’s idea of a presidential candidate. The convention itself, featuring third-rate ‘celebrity’ speakers such as Scott Baio, was held together mostly by bailing wire, gum, and spit. Neither of the Bushes bothered to show, even though father and son are the only two remaining Republican presidents still alive. Ohio Governor John Kasich not only refused to attend his own party’s convention that was held in his own state, but last year released an anti-Trump ad that came close to comparing his party’s nominee to Adolph Hitler. And former Republican candidate Ted Cruz, still smarting over Trump’s nasty insults targeting his wife and father, refused to endorse the candidate even though he was given a prime time speaking slot where he happily delivered his payback insult to the largest possible Republican audience.
But despite the disdain and scorn many Republicans openly display toward their chosen candidate (while others force smiles of team player conciliation for the bare duration of a camera flash), and despite the obvious anarchy that has seized the Republican Party and brought it nearly to its knees, Hillary Clinton nevertheless faces a potentially tough struggle to capture the presidency that seems almost incomprehensible given the laundry list of glaring, major defects that should be crippling – not empowering – the opposition. A struggle that, were it practically any other time in modern history, she would conquer with ease.
But this time is different. If Hillary Clinton is going to win this thing, one can only hope she fully realizes just how much times have changed and, more importantly, that she and her campaign are equipped to adjust and adapt appropriately. When Clinton takes the stage this week in Philadelphia to accept the Democratic nomination, she will need to deliver the speech of a lifetime. And that’s just for starters. Between now and November, Clinton needs to not simply defeat – but slaughter Trump in each and every debate. She needs to put the nation on red alert to how truly dangerous her opponent really is.
Meanwhile, she will also need to convince, in a matter of months, a furious progressive wing of her own party who never liked her to begin with and refuses to accept the defeat of their chosen candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. Some are vowing to vote for a third party candidate, while others insist, remarkably, that Hillary isn’t much different from Trump and they would rather see the Democratic Party burn than to see her elected. Last week’s revelation (courtesy of WikiLeaks) that the Democratic National Committee was actively working to discredit Sanders to clear the path for Clinton verified the worst fears of all anti-Clinton groups and turned off some independents and not-quite-so-hard-left Dems who were wavering in her direction. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to step down on Sunday as a consequence, a demand insisted upon by Bernie Sanders himself, but this might not be enough. After all, if not for WikiLeaks, the DNC wouldn’t have fessed up voluntarily.
Eight years ago, when she was considered the sure-thing Democratic nominee against a little-known Sen. Barack Obama, Clinton’s miscalculations – and those of her political whiz kid strategist husband – cost her the nomination. Fortunately for the country, the winner in that brutal contest proved himself to be not just a good, but an exceptional leader.
This time, eight years later, Obama’s presidency has exposed and unleashed a stubborn streak of racial intolerance (and, in some cases, hatred) that many were hoping his two-time election had proven was a thing of the past. The feeble explanation that it is voter anger and disillusionment that has largely fueled Trump’s rise to power misses the mark, because black people in this country have been angry and disillusioned for several centuries, and for better reasons than just about anyone. Meaning that, if it were simply anger and disillusionment with an unfair America that makes Trump so appealing, then Trump should easily be the favorite candidate of Black America. But since Trump is polling at about 0 percent among African Americans, that obviously is not the case.
Simply put, the problem is the racial intolerance, homophobia, and fear of (darker-skinned) immigrants harbored by enough angry white people to make someone like a Donald Trump actually competitive in a race to lead the most powerful nation on Earth. Make America Great Again, Trump’s slogan, is thinly disguised code for dragging this country backward to an imaginary point in time when white men were in charge and everybody was happy and content. There was never such a time.
The other problem is ignorance, because anyone who earnestly believes Trump represents a brighter day for America cannot honestly be described any other way.
Whatever flaws Hillary Clinton may have, it is essential for the nation that she prevails. Those progressives who believe Trump’s election would awaken the sleeping masses to a ‘revolution’ that would bring about the changes they were hoping would be delivered by a Bernie Sanders presidency are not only mistaken, but they are in fact delusional. The ‘strategy’ of allowing an unhinged dictator wannabe to assume control of the White House as a means of inspiration boggles the mind.
As for those who believe that the smart and progressive thing to do is to vote for a third party candidate in protest should know that their righteous protest will be registered at the expense of the rest of the country’s welfare should Trump prevail. This, after all, is the man who wishes to ban all Muslims, build a wall to keep out (dark-skinned) immigrants, and inflict more ‘law and order’ on black lives in the face of police brutality.
But it is up to Hillary Clinton to make this case convincingly to the American public, and especially to her own party.