Clinton to Trump: You don’t represent the real America. I do.

Hillary Clinton officially accepted her party's nomination for president Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage)

When Hillary Clinton stepped to the podium on the final night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention to accept her party’s nomination for president, she attempted to do something that Democrats have rarely, if ever, succeeded in doing.

She tried to convince America that she was, as Sarah Palin would put it, the only real American in the race.

“Here’s the sad truth: There is no other Donald Trump,” Clinton said. “This is it. And in the end, it comes down to what Donald Trump doesn’t get: that America is great because America is good.”

Thanks to Donald Trump — and his dark, in many ways un-Republican vision of America — she may actually pull it off.

Questioning the patriotism of Democrats while claiming motherhood and apple pie for themselves is something Republicans have done for decades. They did it with Carter and “the malaise.” They did it with Dukakis and the tank. They did it with Kerry and France. They did it with Obama and the birth certificate.

But this year, Trump is making it difficult for the GOP to do it again — and easy for Democrats to turn the tables.

When we look back at the 2016 conventions, this is probably the thing we will remember. Forget Ted Cruz’s mutiny. Forget the Bernie booers. The press has spent the past two weeks obsessing over the intraparty differences on display in Cleveland and Philadelphia. But pull the camera back. Take the 35,000-foot view. The whole spectacle really boiled down to one simple question:

What does it mean to be an American?

Hillary Clinton officially accepted her party’s nomination for president Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage)
The address that Donald Trump delivered in Cleveland was perhaps the least patriotic-sounding convention speech in recent memory. Slate’s Franklin Foer noted its “strangely foreign quality.” No mention of American history.

No mention of American heroes. No mention of past presidents. No mention, even, of troops in uniform. The unifying idea was “America First,” which sounds patriotic until you consider its origin as the rallying cry of a group of anti-Semitic isolationists determined to keep the United States from going to war with Nazi Germany.

Instead, Trump used his moment in the spotlight to depict modern-day America as a dystopia — “worse than it has ever been before,” with hundreds of thousands of law-breaking illegal immigrants “tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens” and murder on the rise because of this “administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement.”

And the only solution, according to Trump, was Trump. Not faith. Not family values. Not patriotism. Not free-market economics. Not democracy. Not even the American people.

“I alone can fix it,” he said.

In Cleveland, Trump tore a Trump-shaped hole in the GOP’s vision for America. In Philadelphia, Democrats sought to fill that void.

At times the effect was jarring. When Gen. John Allen told the convention Thursday night that commander in chief Clinton “will oppose and resist tyranny as we defeat evil” — barking out his words like Hollywood’s idea of a hard-ass marine — the response was somewhat schizophrenic: Scattered Bernie Sanders delegates shouted “No more war!”; the rest of the arena drowned them out by chanting “USA! USA!”

It felt as if some protesters had interrupted a Republican rally.

And yet, when Tim Kaine spoke about faith, he made Democrats sound like the party of faith.

“Now we had a motto in my school, ‘Men for Others,’” he said. “And it was there that my faith became something vital. My north star for orienting my life. And when I left high school, I knew that I wanted to battle for social justice.”

When Michelle Obama spoke about family values, she made Democrats sound like the party of family values.

“You see, Hillary understands that the president is about one thing and one thing only,” she said. “It’s about leaving something better for our kids. That’s how we’ve always moved this country forward, by all of us coming together on behalf of our children, folks who volunteer to coach that team, to teach that Sunday school class, because they know it takes a village.”

When Joe Biden spoke about patriotism, he made Democrats sound like the party of patriotism.

“It’s never, never, never been a good bet to bet against America,” he said. “We have the finest fighting force in the world. Not only do we have the largest economy in the world, we have the strongest economy in the world. We have the most productive workers in the world. And given a fair shot, given a fair chance, Americans have never, ever, ever, ever, let their country down. Never.”

When Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen American Muslim soldier, spoke about the Constitution, he made Democrats sound like the only party that cares about the Constitution.

“[Donald Trump] vows to build walls and ban us from this country,” he said. “Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.’”

And in the end, when Hillary Clinton spoke about the American people on Thursday night — in a speech that mentioned the Second Continental Congress, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Cuban missile crisis, and John McCain — she made Democrats sound like the only party that believes in the American people.

“Don’t believe anyone who says: ‘I alone can fix it,'” she said, referring to that inward-looking line from Trump’s Cleveland speech. “Really? ‘I alone can fix it?’ Isn’t he forgetting troops on the front lines? Police officers and firefighters who run toward danger? Doctors and nurses who care for us? Teachers who change lives? Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem? Mothers who lost children to violence and are building a movement to keep other kids safe?”

“He’s forgetting every last one of us,” Clinton said. “Americans don’t say: ‘I alone can fix it.’ We say: ‘We’ll fix it together.’”

This, of course, is politics. Clinton is trying to win an election. Republicans still believe in faith, family, patriotism, free-market economics, democracy and the American people. But when Trump says he wants to withdraw from NATO, or build a wall, or ban Muslims, or that Vladimir Putin is a strong leader, or that he alone can fix America, he makes it easier for Democrats to argue that they don’t.

And in Philadelphia, that is exactly what the Democrats did.
Clinton to Trump: You don’t represent the real America. I do. Clinton to Trump: You don’t represent the real America. I do. Reviewed by E.A Olatoye on July 29, 2016 Rating: 5

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