Democracy & Government

Your Turn: The “Hopeful” Democratic National Convention

While Hillary Clinton is still not the most-beloved politician, some readers seem to have warmed to her during a convention with a markedly more optimistic tone than last week's RNC.

Your Turn: The Democratic Convention

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, acknowledge the crowd at the end of the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on July 28, 2016. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The comments on the Democratic National Convention (DNC) were all over the map, with a few grateful for the history made Thursday night, some heeding Bernie Sanders’ call to unite and others simply vowing “never Hillary.”

After Clinton became the first woman to accept a major party’s presidential nomination,
Christine Fenno was “crying missing my mother tonight. She would have loved this moment and this candidate – a smart, experienced pro-choice women who understands gun violence prevention and supports gay rights.”

Then there were many people, like Marlesa Gray, who were newly converted following the convention. “To those who tuned out because of ‘predetermined biases,’ she writes, “this Sanders supporter will tell you that tonight Hillary Clinton pivoted left on the social and economic issues that Bernie Sanders has been campaigning on.”

On Thursday night, as she closed out the DNC by accepting her party’s nomination, Clinton spoke to many of the issues Sanders has advocated during his hard-fought campaign. Her speech included promises to fight for a higher federal minimum wage, free college tuition, tougher Wall Street regulations, increased gun control, subsidized child care, paid family and medical leave and Social Security expansion. Gray adds that voters still need to keep Clinton’s “feet to the fire” to make sure she stays on the progressive course envisioned by Sanders.

In general, there’s a sense that people are not so much voting for Clinton, but against Trump, as can be seen in Robert Waring’s comments. Waring, a Sanders supporter, says: “I will back Bernie’s strategic position to defeat Trump, which is not tacit approval of Clinton, but common sense… Defeating Trump by whatever means possible is what needs to be done.”

Clinton gained praise for her repeated swipes at Trump. Linda Carpenter in particular liked this one: “A man you can bait with a tweet can never be president.”

However, the scandal surrounding Debbie Wasserman Schultz – who resigned Sunday as chair of the Democratic National Committee after leaked emails revealed the party organization’s favoritism for Clinton in her primary fight against Sanders – will probably cost Clinton some votes. John Comeskey summed up the feelings of many who see the DNC as “biased and crooked.” He says: “They rammed Hillary Clinton down our throats with extremely dubious tactics to serve their own preconceived agenda. HRC and Kaine are corporate America’s choices, not mine. I don’t want either of them.”

Hope and Optimism

Others praised the optimistic tone of the convention. President Barack Obama’s rousing speech resonated with many, including Christine Glenn. “What an emotional and philosophical contrast to the Republicans. The Democratic convention expressed messages of community, achievement, aspirations and mutual support. The Republican convention was about fear, anger and blaming.”

Tammera Hopkins Callahan was also “impressed with DNC speakers and their strong messages of hope and optimism” compared to those of the RNC. “As a Bernie supporter, reluctant to cast a vote for Hillary, I am feeling a little better about it,” she adds.

Many were deeply touched by the emotional speech by Khizr Khan, a Muslim immigrant whose son, a captain in the US military, died while fighting in Iraq. From the stage Khan spoke directly to Trump, who has advocated a ban on Muslims entering the country. “Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” Khan said, pulling it out of his pocket.

“In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.’ Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America,” Khan added. “You’ll see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.”

Judith Passman Kitzes writes that Khan’s speech “filled my heart with love, made me proud to be an American, and brought me to tears,” representing “the heart and soul of what makes us great.” Stacey McLaughlin imagined Trump, “tweeting some insane craziness about how ISIS had taken over the DNC convention because Muslims took the stage.”

Bob Breeden also was “genuinely moved” by Khan’s words, but says we should remember that “Hillary Clinton voted for George W. Bush’s bogus war which would claim young Humayun Khan’s life.” While Clinton’s platform is viewed by many as the most progressive in the history of the party, many are concerned by her hawkish worldview. As Breeden puts it, Clinton has “consistently supported America’s bloody drone program” as well as “disastrous interventions” in other countries. “Her admiration for Henry Kissinger speaks volumes.”

There were many comments about the other speakers this week, too many to list here, but a few stood out. Paul Billings writes: “Elizabeth Warren preaches about taking Wall Street out of US politics then endorses the one person for US President who has taken more money from Wall Street than anyone else over the last 4 years?”

A number of people commented on former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), who sustained a severe brain injury after being shot in the head during a massacre five years ago and has become a strong advocate for gun control. Bede Campbell writes: “She is amazing and a remarkable woman – one of great courage.”

Things I’d Rather Do

As they did last week during the RNC, our readers chimed in with things they’d rather being doing than watching the DNC. Don Alexander would rather “wrestle alligators in a shark tank” than listen to Hillary Clinton, while Ellen Lynch would rather “watch reruns of the RNC convention” even though she “detests Trump.”

Some people were put off by the audience boos and jeers during the convention. Marcy Dobkin LeLacheur writes that it was “very sad to see the mutual disrespect of Bernie and Hillary supporters.” But she seems to reflect back the dignity portrayed by Michelle Obama in her words, “When they go low, we go high,” delivered onstage Monday night.

LeLacheur writes: “Peace starts with us. Overcome your own fear. How can we expect the country to defeat its own divisiveness if we cannot overcome our own? We can vote for Hillary Clinton or Jill Stein and still be united in our hearts, and fight for the progressive platform. Mutual respect above all and we will win and cooperate down the road no matter who we vote for or who wins. The fight won’t be over and we will need each other.”

It’s hard not to agree with that.

Karin Kamp

Karin Kamp is a multimedia journalist and producer. She has produced content for BillMoyers.com, NOW on PBS and WNYC public radio and worked as a reporter for Swiss Radio International. She also helped launch The Story Exchange, a site dedicated to women’s entrepreneurship.

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