After the Republican convention’s angry, end-of-the-world week in Cleveland, some GOP followers will be surprised if Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton doesn’t show up on stage at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia as Darth Vader.
The Republicans poured it on Clinton in speech after speech with a singular theme of “hate Hillary.” Now the Democrats have a chance as they gather this week to present an entirely different view of America’s future. After the Republican fire-and-brimstone will come a more hopeful vision of inclusion, not exclusion, of optimism, not doom-saying.
Republicans painted a picture of a country on the brink of destruction, from being victimized by terrorism to threatened by economic collapse. GOP nominee Donald Trump actually conjured a vision of criminals being released to the streets by the thousands to threaten law-abiding citizens. And he blamed it all on Hillary Clinton, a former United States senator and secretary of state whose credentials for the presidency far surpass his own. Clinton would come to the job prepared by experience to deal with complex issues like the growth of terrorism and ISIS and the chaos in Libya and violence in Iraq and Syria.
Clinton now has the chance to talk about the economic rebound from the Great Recession, about the Democrats saving the auto industry, improving the nation’s standing in the world, creating millions of jobs, revolutionizing the availability of health care and trying, by going around a Republican Congress, to bolster public education and social programs to make the American dream Donald Trump inherited available to all.
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As a U.S. senator and as secretary of state, Clinton shared in those successes. As an advocate, all her adult life, for improving the welfare of children, she has defined her character.
President Obama has done a good job as president against tremendous partisan odds and, yes, against racial politics. Clinton need make no apologies for having been part of his administration.
In Philadelphia, she needs to build on her ideas regarding regulation of big banks, for one example, and on creating a fairer tax system. She needs to offer ways to deal with the country’s racial divide and with the fear of Americans of color in their encounters with police. At the same time, Clinton needs to underline the need for dialogue that recognizes that fear but also the views of police officers in harm’s way.
Clinton and the Democrats have a chance to present a stark contrast and thus offer the American people a clear choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.