National Commentary

The Real America’s Grand Coalition

nfbenton-mugThe selection of Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine to be the vice-presidential nominee last Friday, and the subsequent veritably flawless roll out of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week has set the framework for burying the “stupid white male pig” chauvinist fearmongering of the GOP and Donald Trump.

The contrasts could not be clearer, and one cannot help but be, if cautiously, optimistic about the grand coalition of diversity that is now America, from its women to its minorities of all stripes to its devoted public servants, coalescing over the next months to sweep Hillary Clinton into the White House as the first-ever female U.S. president.

The Republicans and Trump are their own worst enemies with their sour and ill negativity, their relentless angry if sophomoric name calling and finger pointing being dourly and in such striking contradistinction to the Democrats’ hopeful, upbeat, programmatic vision of a multi-faceted America pushing ahead toward continued improvement and progress.

The Democrats’ vision is not pie-in-the-sky; it is there in that convention, in its demographic and cultural makeup, in the remarkable role model that is Michelle Obama, in the firm and strident resolve of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to keep on pushing, in the passionate delivery and wisdom of Bill Clinton, and so much more (as of this writing, there are still two days to go).

As well, one of the most hopeful elements has been the willingness of the Democrats to take the gloves off in going after Trump and the GOP, to “take no prisoners” politically. It is a far cry from 2004, the last year Democrats lost a presidential election, when they’d made the fatal decision not to refer directly to their adversaries once during their national convention.
As a result, they got “swift boated” with GOP lies in the election and as a result the nation got more deeply mired in Iraq, with all its collateral consequences (ISIS), and rammed into the Great Recession.

That ill-considered 2004 decision by the Democrats was reversed in 2008 and 2012, and now Trump and his ferociously anti-woman and anti-LGBT running mate give them far more fodder for engaging the battle full bore this time.

Consider the remarks of America’s greatest actress, Meryl Streep, at the Democratic convention Tuesday night. Poignantly, just fresh off her latest screen trump in “Suffragette,” she turned the fateful Howard Dean yelp in 2004 into a positive war cry in 2016 and spoke eloquently to the “grit and grace” that have defined the ability of pioneering women like Hillary Clinton to forge the future for all women and their allies.

“What does it take to be the first woman anything?,” Streep asked rhetorically. She listed some “female firsts,” from Deborah Sampson in the American Revolutionary war, to Sandra Day O’Connor, Shirley Chisholm, Harriet Tubman, Sally Ride, Madeleine Albright and Eleanor Roosevelt. Other great women deserve to and shall be added to that list as this historic election year unfolds.

As for Hillary Clinton, nobody has told her story better than husband Bill on Tuesday night. Far from standing for the “status quo,” her life has always been defined by her resolve to make things better,” deriving perhaps, he quipped from her extra “responsibility gene.”

Following those memorable remarks, CNN commentator Van Jones said that, in contrast to the GOP’s “cartoon” characterization of Hillary, Bill presented her true side. “He showed her to be a workaholic do-gooder woman. People can certainly relate to that,” Jones said.

But for this writer, it was the choice of Tim Kaine to be Clinton’s running mate that’s had the greatest impact in this past week. I know him personally and can say without qualification that he is perhaps singularly the finest and most down-to-Earth and sincere individual I have ever encountered in politics.

So, the fact that such an outstanding person would be chosen for such a job is a source of a great renewal of faith. It is like the proverbial “critical experiment” that defines and throws fresh light onto an entire process, scientific, political or otherwise. Thus, it defines the Democratic ticket.