On Wednesday, smack dab in the middle of the Democratic National Convention, after denying the “crazy” allegations that Russia was intervening in the election on his behalf, Donald Trump in a press conference said: “Russia, if you are listening, I hope you can find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
Referring, of course, to the emails of our former Secretary of State.
Some observations from the DNC:
1. Bernie Sanders fans were miffed when emails from Democratic party officials got leaked to the public via Wikileaks. Perhaps originally hacked by Russia. The emails revealed that party officials, who claim to be neutral, had brainstormed ways to get Bernie out of the race. These shady tactics caused the chairwoman of the Dems to resign. I would be miffed, too, but by the time the brainstorming took place, the race was long over. A done deal. It didn’t affect the outcome. In a race so consequential, Bernie should have faced reality sooner, for the good of his party.
2. The unifying effort, though, was pretty smooth. Bernie spoke of his “revolution” and fired up his supporters, before urging them to direct this energy in support of Clinton. The Democrats’ platform is way far left, anyways, thanks to the democratic-socialist. Feel the Bern! The “Bernie or Bust” folks who still don’t want to vote for Clinton also need to face reality: Your ideas are in the platform and your alternative is Donald Trump.
3. Obama did a great job describing the virtues and struggles of democracy. Often frustrating, but an essential struggle. Democrats and Republicans compete with ideas, philosophies, and interpretations. Fight passionately for your ideas, convince people of your leadership, and you win– you get to try your ideas. This is healthy. But what Trump is selling, Obama said, are not ideas. He is not a conservative or a Republican. He is selling an image of himself that he hopes resonates with a disaffected population.
4. Trump’s lack of any substantive knowledge whatsoever is tragic for our democracy. Hillary Clinton presented many of her ideas. Expanding Obamacare. Raising the minimum wage. Increased federal assistance for college tuition. Strong economic regulations. Taxing the rich to pay for everything. The problem is that Trump can’t make an intelligible argument. We will not have a competition of ideas. His campaign is about insults and emotions and attention grabbing.
5. The most glaring difference I noticed in the two conventions was the sincerity of the speakers. Most Republican stars stayed home. The ones that spoke either: a) screamed a lot, b) snubbed the nominee, or c) sounded like they had been threatened with torture if they refused to endorse Trump. By contrast, several speakers at the Democratic Convention gave me the chills with their heartfelt conviction. Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Tim Kaine, and President Obama– each spoke earnestly and delivered powerful lines with expressions that could not be faked. Their sincerity must count for something.
Obama said it best:
“Fair to say, this is not your typical election. It’s not just a choice between parties or policies; the usual debates between left and right. This is a more fundamental choice – about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.”
I usually despise the lesser-of-two evils argument, but when the greater-of-two-evils is literally a threat to our democracy, that’s a game changer.