Saturday, July 30, 2016
NIGHT AND DAY
After a tumultuous first couple of days, the Democratic National Convention settled down, drowned out the few remaining Bernie Sanders supporters, and got down to the job at hand: nominating Hillary Clinton and selling her to the American public. And while there will always be people who can't stand her, from her deceitful nature to her hectoring voice, the task was mostly well accomplished. After Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama gave strong, well received speeches, (and Bill Clinton gave a pleasant and slightly rambling one), Hillary herself gave what was the most important speech of her life, and she mostly nailed it. Managing to thread the needle by appealing to liberal Bernie Sanders supporters while also reaching out to fence leaning moderates by selling herself as the rational, experienced choice compared to Donald Trump's loose cannon candidacy.
When looked at, the two conventions are all about contrast; look at the sunny upbeat tone of the Democrats saying "America is already great, but could be better" and then remember the Republicans practically screaming "the US is a hell hole". Often, nonvoters dismiss both parties as being the same; that certainly couldn't be farther from the truth this year! Oddly enough, it was the Democrats who wrapped themselves in the flag and praised God and patriotism more than the Republicans; while it is normal for a party not in power to paint a negative picture of the other party's rule, the dour, almost apocalyptic tone of the Republican convention probably played well to their base, but may have turned off moderate voters.
In any event, with the conventions over, this historic election is now underway, and sadly, it will probably be extremely ugly and negative. Both candidates have over fifty percent negative ratings from the American public, meaning both sides will essentially be saying "don't vote for me because of who I am, vote for me because I'm not him/her."
The interesting thing for Hillary Clinton is that she seems to have come full circle: way back in 1992, she was perceived as a liberalizing influence on her moderate husband and president, and he put in her charge of his big attempt at health care reform. The result of that attempt was such a failure that in 1994 the Republican party retook the House of Representatives for the first time since 1952. That election was dubbed the year of the angry white male, and much of that anger was directed at Hillary herself. And now, here we are, 22 years later, with many of those same angry white men (especially blue collar ones) still lashing out at her and supporting Trump. But will Trump's alienation of nearly every group in America other than white men kill his chances, no matter how strongly they support him? The big question is, will this election bring a belated revenge for Hillary Clinton, or will it stand as one last blow landed by a raging, aging demographic that is slowly losing its influence in America? Only time will tell.