The American Dream has been bludgeoned by the general insanity of the Republican National Convention, but come the election in November, hope in America springs eternal.
Those disenfranchised segments of society that today cheer at populist diatribes about making their country great again are witless victims manipulated by the gargantuan, personal ambition of their political representatives. Complicit in their deceit are those who wedge their foot inside the door to the rhetoric, such as U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan whose continued support of Donald Trump is costing the values of a nation he purports to represent, including his own Republican Party. In his efforts to pick up a feather of self-respect from the back-street cockfight that is his leader’s modus operandi, Ryan pointed out that he does not agree with Trump’s deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants. How did this become part of a political agenda legitimate enough to disagree upon? On what aspect does Ryan take exception? On the method of transportation?
Republican political campaigning in America has turned into a slow-acting poison, intubating the electorate on notions and language characterized by inexperience, a lazy intellect, and egomaniacal insecurity. This was evident at its convention in Cleveland in mid-July, which opened with a prayer that amounted to America’s exorcism of Hillary Clinton, followed on day two by a witch hunt with chants of “lock her up.” Trump’s adviser on veteran affairs, Al Baldassaro, announced on radio that Clinton should be shot for treason. Melania Trump’s lifted convention speech was, according to Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, a plot by Hillary Clinton to discredit her. In his acceptance speech, Trump intimated that an ominous dark veil of sinister forces was corroding all that America stands for. Agreed.
There can be no guarantee that the final lap to November will be free of new trip-ups. Like a bad driver who has just passed his test, Trump might well commit other faux pas in his eagerness to sound informed, on Twitter.
Last week’s Democratic National Convention gave pause to this insanity. The democrats struck back at Trump’s doom and gloom like an injected antidote into a fresh snake bite. Love ’em or leave ’em, Michelle and Barack Obama shone with grandiloquence in their speeches, powered by graciousness, a gentle humor, and the truth that all of us who believe in a better, fairer world aspire to be part of the American Dream too. Importantly, they pointed to America’s real sense of identity in today’s fast-changing events, to be found inside the hearts and minds of a nation of non-quitters, each “a beloved part of the great American story.” And everyone, in and outside America, needed to hear this.
Other democracies are unique in their voice and idiosyncrasies, part of that rich tapestry of nations, but the United States soars on the wings of an emotional openness that the British are embarrassed to express, the Australians flavor with a dollop of self-deprecation, the French formalize into political non sequiturs, the Italians convert into an operatic sing-song, and the Germans subdue into the small writing of an EU treaty.
It took the country’s growing identity crisis for the Democratic Party to refresh its collective memory of what constitutes American greatness, aided and abetted by Trump publicly sanctioning Vladimir Putin’s cybercrime against the United States. For all his tyrannical hold on his politburo of billionaires who ensure democracy will never see the light of day in Russia, Putin must have been shaking his head in disbelief.
By inciting an adversarial leader to subvert the power and authority of his own country for his own means, Trump has single-handedly reminded the world of what needs to be put back in the box. And now that he is to receive intelligence briefings as Republican presidential candidate, even if these are not top secret, there can be no guarantee that the final lap to November will be free of new trip-ups. Like a bad driver who has just passed his test, Trump might well commit other faux pas in his eagerness to sound informed, on Twitter.
The American Dream is alive and well, though in need of updating with 21st century software that recognizes and can address the real economic and societal cracks through which a large middle class is falling. Yet anyone listening in on the democratic convention last week was given the chance to reconnect with the pride of an extraordinary nation whose cultural identity is upheld through social peace and cohesion by immigrants and non-immigrants alike. Future generations could once again be inspired by life-affirming oratory as they grow and hone their own belief systems about what makes their country great.
In November’s U.S. election, the choice on who will hold political power should come down to one simple fact: who knows more, a lot more, and has been lifted by a lifetime of experience in fields relevant to today’s domestic and international complexities? This is no longer about the Republican or Democratic candidate, nor about gender. Neither is it about the benefits of being an outsider, because negotiating elevator rates and brokerage fees, however grand the scale, is not going to cut it.