A Tale of Two Conventions
Hillary Clinton’s convention appealed to the better angels of our nature. Donald Trump’s channeled Debbie Downer.
By Peter Fenn | Contributor—USNews & World Report
July 29, 2016, at 12:00 p.m.
From Cleveland to Philadelphia, it was as if we were on two different planets, maybe two different galaxies. There was the “Debbie Downer Convention” and then there was the “Can-Do Convention.” I think you know which was which!
Like Rachel Dratch’s character in “Saturday Night Live,” you could depend on Donald Trump to bring everyone down with his over-the-top negative pronouncements and ludicrous put-downs and insults. All the Republican convention needed was the SNL “wah-wah” sound from a muted trombone at the end of each of Trump’s nasty, negative comments.
The fear and loathing convention in Cleveland featured more doom and gloom than a Freddy Krueger slasher movie. Really, this is what the Republican Party has come to in 2016? As some have said, it is as if they have gone from “morning in America” to “mourning in America.”
The use of fear as a campaign tactic has always been with us, but this convention and this candidate have taken it to a whole new level. With little understanding of either history or the current problems facing the country, Trump uses the style of a demagogue to whip Americans up into a frenzy.
Think about it. As our economy rebounds, are we facing the crash of ’29 and the Great Depression? As we face down the Islamic State group and other terrorists, are we confronting Hitler marching across Europe and exterminating 6 million Jews? As we work to raise income levels and to grow the middle class, are we facing the 1930s with one in four Americans out of a job? When we confront Ebola or Zika, are we talking about the flu plague of 1918 that killed over 50 million people? We live in a complex and dangerous world but do we have the specter of nuclear annihilation hanging over our heads?
The problems we face can be solved and are, in fact, much less severe than what America confronted less than 100 years ago. Donald Trump did more than sell America short – he used rhetoric designed to inflame and divide and, of course, conquer.
Contrast this with the Democratic Convention and Hillary Clinton, who appealed to our better angels and offered a vision of working together to tackle and solve America’s problems. Philadelphia 2016 brought forth the miracle of the promise that came out of that city 240 years ago.
Hillary Clinton took on Donald Trump while aiming for the last glass ceiling.
This campaign is about two very different visions, two very different approaches, two very different people. Make no mistake, Hillary Clinton is the “can-do” candidate, the roll-up-your-sleeves candidate, the candidate who knows how to take ideas and put them into action. Her goal and the Democratic Party’s goal this week was to give Americans not only a blueprint for building a better America but to convince them that the spirit is still alive, that it does take a village, that this is not a nation of dictators but a democracy, where everyone matters and everyone contributes and everyone can benefit.
Trump channels anger, Hillary channels hope; Trump divides and denigrates, Hillary unites and lifts up; Trump insults and goes it alone, Hillary embraces and reaches across the divide.
When Americans are disheartened it is easy to play to their fears, but real leaders take the opposite course; they inspire and create a better path. They bring people together to solve the problems and make life better. They reject the politics of irrationalism and fear. The last thing we need right now is more Debbie Downers, especially those who, as Vice President Biden said, really don’t have a clue.