Hillary Clinton’s Patriotic Ride Reinforces DNC 2016’s Savvy, Inclusive Message

What’s a more American story than a middle-class girl from suburban Chicago toiling her way to the presidency?
Source: flickr.com
Source: flickr.com

There have been a lot of complicated wrinkles to the 2016 presidential contest, which feels like it started when we were all much younger and full of hope. Most of them have not been fun. But it’s hard not to love the confident, patriotic pivot of the Democratic Party and its contender. There will be those who accuse the left of cynical opportunism, but I am not one of them. There are times when strategy and sentiment convene – and everyone wins.

DNC 2016 earned big ratings, and it wasn’t just devoted liberals tuning in. In a piece for Raw Story entitled Jealous Conservatives Amazed by “Patriotic” DNC, Travis Gettys writes:

“They’ve woven traditionally conservative themes such as patriotism, military services, small-town values and the virtues of hard work, into an inclusive and socially liberal narrative lauding shared sacrifice and civic virtue.

And no one’s more mystified than Republicans, who’ve watched their rival scoop up all the political ground that Trump abandoned in his improbable and divisive presidential campaign.”


I never understood why the left let most of the 2000s and a good part of this decade pass playing defense. As if somehow wanting a country that works for all instead of carrying the water pail for the one percent, while indulging the cultural wars of the religious right, was heretical and un-American. The purveyors of the Iraq War (Part 2), who passed unprecedented, unaffordable tax cuts and made a Constitutional Amendment against gay marriage a centerpiece of the party platform mystifyingly won the PR battle for which movement represented “real Americans.”

Democrats should not have needed the Trump phenomenon to help them articulate a vision for the country that also conveys love for it. After all the party’s planks, even before Bernie Sanders helped pushed them farther left, are about creating equal opportunity and freedom for all – not just rich, white, cisgendered males. And liberals shouldn’t have required the impetus of an ominous, fearful and whitewashed RNC 2016 to point out that say, the GOP might not speak to who and what we are after all. But better late than never I suppose.

It’s been great fun watching Hillary Clinton’s Star-Spangled Bus Tour. In part it’s enjoyable to see a candidate long and unfairly labeled dry, brittle and ambitious to robotic proportions let down her figurative hair. She’s having a good time embracing voters with her running mate Tim Kaine. As Annie Karni of Politico writes, “In contrast to Trump’s bleak picture and desire for a retreat from the global stage, Clinton is asserting an optimistic view of the country’s future and its dominant role in the world — and presenting a new patriotism test for her Republican rival.”

Of course, they are taking these messages to swing states and others where Clinton might otherwise have trouble were she not running against Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton is, after all trying to win an election. But in a cycle rife with alienating misanthropy from the right, Hillary’s neo-Mayberry vision of a future where everyone is welcome to town is inspiring, charming and because she has laid out a trove of specific policy proposals, achievable.

The New York Times Editorial Board wrote this week about Hillary Clinton’s Plan for a Fair Economy. They conclude:

“The plan Mrs. Clinton [has], is a good one. It is largely paid for. It is incremental, not sweeping, which is in keeping with political reality. And in contrast to the Trump plan, which has few details, it is specific enough that the ‘everyday Americans’ she has pledged to help can actually hold her accountable for what she has promised.”

Hillary Clinton is not the world’s most charismatic speaker. She lacks the soaring rhetorical gifts of her husband or our current President, Barack Obama. We know that and so does she. But we don’t need a showman to lead our nation during these tense, complicated times. We require a smart, practical POTUS in-waiting, driven by love of country and its diverse citizenry to share her plans with anyone willing to listen.

Clinton is a hard worker. Even her enemies attest to that. What’s a more American story than a middle-class girl from suburban Chicago toiling her way to the presidency? What’s more patriotic than developing an agenda that seeks to elevate everyone to the same opportunity level? Nothing offered by her opponent, that’s for sure. You’ve claimed the mantle of “shared sacrifice and civic virtue,” Hillary. It looks damned good on you.

Becky Sarwate is the current President of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association, founded in 1885, as well as Recording Secretary for the National Federation of Press Women. She is a national award-winning journalist, blogger, newsletter editor and theater critic. Becky lives in Chicago with her partner Bob and their menagerie of pets. Keep up with her at beckysarwate.com.
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