Saturday, 30 July 2016

Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention

Two days ago, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepted her party's nomination for president. As such, she became the first female nominee for a major party in the United States. There have been female candidates for the past few elections but they've been those from minor parties or independents.

Clinton's speech followed a similar pattern to the other speeches I've watched in that she focused on her personal history, her relationship with her husband, the strength of her people, rejecting her opponent's negativity and heaping praise upon Bernie Sanders. To comment on some highlights:

"On Tuesday night, I was so happy to see that my Explainer-in-Chief is still on the job. I'm also grateful to the rest of my family and the friends of a lifetime. To all of you whose hard work brought us here tonight. And to those of you who joined our campaign this week.  And what a remarkable week it's been."

A good start, I thought; giving thanks to her supporters and campaigners, and to her family and friends. Granted, I supported Barack Obama in 2008 and Bernie Sanders this year but I do acknowledge that it has been a long road for Clinton to make it to this point.

"We heard the man from Hope, Bill Clinton. And the man of Hope, Barack Obama. America is stronger because of President Obama's leadership, and I'm better because of his friendship."

While I'm sure Clinton was being fully genuine with this, it will be important for her to win the Obama Coalition for her to secure the presidency. Noting where Obama has aided her will go a long way towards ensuring those voters are there for her on Election Day.

"And I want to thank Bernie Sanders. Bernie, your campaign inspired millions of Americans, particularly the young people who threw their hearts and souls into our primary.  You've put economic and social justice issues front and center, where they belong."

Speaking of winning over voters, a magnanimous approach towards her former primary opponent is extremely wise. Sanders' supporters should be heartened that the good Senator himself was able to have such a huge influence on the party platform, which Clinton noted they both helped to write. As Clinton will also need a high youth turnout to ensure her victory, noting their support of Sanders is a smart move.

"But just look at the strengths we bring as Americans to meet these challenges. We have the most dynamic and diverse people in the world. We have the most tolerant and generous young people we've ever had. We have the most powerful military. The most innovative entrepreneurs. The most enduring values."

This paragraph alone is far more positive than anything than Clinton's general election stated in his speech. Rather than talking about America as though the nation is ripped apart and under constant attack, Clinton discussed the country's strengths. This is something she'll need to emphasize in the upcoming debates nearer to Election Day.

"This is what I mean. None of us can raise a family, build a business, heal a community or lift a country totally alone."

This is kind of what Obama meant in his "You didn't build that" speech from the 2012 campaign trail. No one person can build anything alone; they might be the driving force behind a change but they need the help of others to make it work.

"My grandfather worked in the same Scranton lace mill for 50 years. Because he believed that if he gave everything he had, his children would have a better life than he did. And he was right."

Many Americans nowadays feel as though the notion of the "American Dream" is little more than that - a dream. This is a clever use of Clinton's family history to remind people that maybe - just maybe - it's more than that.

"So we gathered facts. We built a coalition. And our work helped convince Congress to ensure access to education for all students with disabilities."

I only learned this past week about the work Clinton has done for disabled students, as well as learned more about the healthcare program she acquired for the nation's children. Such accomplishments of hers are often overlooked, as many people seem to be more interested in her errors.

"Happy for boys and men, too – because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone.  When there are no ceilings, the sky's the limit.  So let's keep going, until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves."

Again, Clinton is the first female major party nominee; should she go on to win the election, she will deserve as inspiration for women across the globe, whether you like her or not. Note her hinting here that if women are allowed to flourish, men are helped, too.

"That's why we need to appoint Supreme Court justices who will get money out of politics and expand voting rights, not restrict them. And if necessary we'll pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United!"

Nice mention of a key Sanders point there - overturning Citizens United, as well as highlighting the need to elect Clinton so that she can appoint sensible people to the Supreme Court, which is perhaps the most important reason to elect her. Her opponent is almost certain to appoint people who will strike down crucial civil rights rulings, such as those that protect the rights of women, voters and the LGBT community.

"Now, you didn't hear any of this from Donald Trump at his convention.   He spoke for 70-odd minutes – and I do mean odd.  And he offered zero solutions.
But we already know he doesn't believe these things.  No wonder he doesn't like talking about his plans. You might have noticed, I love talking about mine."

Her opponent's speech was indeed devoid of any specific plans for how he would improve America. Much of it was fearmongering and the misguided belief that the US should adopt some sort of siege mentality.

"Bernie Sanders and I will work together to make college tuition-free for the middle class and debt-free for all!   We will also liberate millions of people who already have student debt."

Another piece of meat for Sanders' supporters but also a very important issue to address. Student debt is a serious problem in the US and in some other developed nations, such as the United Kingdom. I hope that Clinton and her administration follow through with this and are able to erase student debt.

"I'm proud that we put a lid on Iran's nuclear program without firing a single shot[...]" 

This is the Iran deal I wrote about last July, the one that has indeed scaled back Iran's nuclear program and put the country in a stronger position now that it's agreed to cooperate and because some of the sanctions placed on it have been lifted. Iran is no longer considered a "top threat" in the Middle East; in fact, Iran could now be useful at dealing with other problems in the Middle East.

"Yes, the world is watching what we do. Yes, America's destiny is ours to choose. So let's be stronger together, my fellow Americans. Let’s look to the future with courage and confidence. Let’s build a better tomorrow for our beloved children and our beloved country. And when we do, America will be greater than ever."

An overall positive note on which to end the speech but I do agree with Clinton that the world is indeed watching. Many people I've spoken to here are baffled that her opponent has made it as far as he has in the election and many fear the consequences if he wins. What happens in America affects the world as a whole, given the country's huge global influence.

When Clinton ended her speech, Katy Perry's "Firework" and Sara Bareilles' "Brave" played, which seemed like appropriate songs on which to conclude. On the whole, I was pleased with Clinton's acceptance.

The transcript of Clinton's speech can be found on the Los Angeles Times.

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