Hillary Clinton accepts historic Democratic presidential nomination….writes Arul Louis from the convention centre in Philadelphia
Promising a populist agenda to build a better nation based on unity, Hillary Clinton on Thursday night aceppted the Democratic Party’s historic presidential nomination making her the first women candidate of a major US party and challenged Republican rival Donald Trump on what she said was his message of hate and divisiveness.
“It is with humility, determination and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for President of the United States,” Clinton said to thunderous applause at the Wells Fargo Centre in Philadelphia.
“Your cause is our cause,” she declared as her party members waved placards and flags and roared their support. “Our country needs your ideas and commitment.”
She promised to take on Wall Street, large corporations and the rich to make them pay their fair share of taxes and treat workers fairly.
The former First Lady also said she would penalise corporations that send jobs abroad and hit out at Trump for having some of his products manufactured abroad, mentioning picture frames made in India.
At the same time she promised stern against terrorism, but by working with allies. Clinton said she would strike the Islamic State (IS) terror group from the air and and empower allies to defeat them, while countering its appeal to youth.
She invoked the commitment of Humayun Khan, a 27-year-old Pakistani American Army captain, killed in 2004 in Iraq trying to save his soldiers, and Nat Kaine, the Marine son of her Vice President nominee, Tim Kaine, to protect the US to declare her commitment the armed forces and to keeping the nation safe.
Philadelphia was where the US Independence Declaration was signed 240 years ago. From the Convention in the city, the party and the nation should message of unity, liberty and equality enshrined in it, she said.
The former Secretary of State presented her vision of a “country that works for everyone, not only those at the top.
Clinton promised to work to bring jobs, penalise corporations that hurt workers, and improve the life of the citizens. She said she would work along with the Republican Party to make the biggest investments since the Second World War to create jobs.
In an appeal to the Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ backers and to assuage the sense of economic insecurity that plagues also the supporters of Trump, she said, “Our economy isn’t working the way it should because democracy isn’t working the way it should.”
She said that she would appoint Supreme Court judges who would overturn judgments that allowed some types of political donations and, if necessary, introduce a constitutional amendment.
“Wall Street will not be allowed to wreck Main Street,” she said, outlining her populist agenda.
Corporations, Wall Street and the rich will be made to pay more taxes, Clinton added.
Working with Sanders, she said she would work to make college tuition free and eliminate college tuition debts.
Overcoming an early party leadership crisis and the persistent vociferous opposition to her from the supporters of insurgent rival, Sanders, the Convention ended generally on an upbeat note.
In a political coup to tamp down dissent and build unity for the party, Sanders on Tuesday night asked the convention to discard the votes cast for him and nominate Clinton unanimously by acclamation.
Pockets of resistance persisted with the Sanderistas – the supporters of Sanders – booing her speech.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama addressed the Convention and gave her a resounding endorsement and declare Clinton the leader to pick up the baton and give the nation continuity and strong leadership.
The coronation of the Clinton dynasty came eight years late after Hillary Clinton’s first bid for the presidency was waylaid by President Barack Obama, who came from behind and seized the party’s nomination in 2008 and went on to become the first African-American to lead the US. And it was 24 years after her husband, Bill Clinton (1993-2001), was crowned with the party’s nomination.
Now comes the momentous task of waging a tough electoral battle against Republican Donald Trump, who has taken the campaign to new levels of bitter and aggressive animosity.
The Democratic Party presented her as an amalgam of compassion and toughness, a leader who can heal the economic, social and racial of the nation, but is also has the steely resolve to taken the enemies of her nation.
Trump loomed large over the Convention as an ominous presence that Democrats saw as a divisive and disrupt force. Clinton said he had taken the country from “morning in America to midnight”.
he conceded there was economic stagnation and various problems, but the nation still remained strong and a beacon of multi-ethnic harmony that inspired the world.
“Don’t trust anyone who says he alone can fix” the nation, she said.
For the Convention’s finale, Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother extolling her commitment to public service and the values of compassion for the less fortunate she instilled.She said Hillary Clinton keeps going amid the sound and fury of politics despite setbacks because of her commitment.
Patriotism was the theme of one of the last segments of the Convention showing support of military veterans, placards with “USA” shouts of “USA,USA” by the audience and a show of cards by participants to spell out a patriotic theme.
The displays sought to douse Republican Party criticism and to seek to reassure a nation uneasy with terror and Islamic radicalism – a fear Trump has mined – that Clinton would be a determined leader who would keep the country safe and at the same time douse anti-Americanism at home.
A Sikh ex-serviceman, Major Kamaljeet Singh, in a pink turban stood with his colleagues behind retired General John Allen, who declared, “We are the greatest country on the planet”.
As the audience shouted, “USA, USA,”, he said that under Clinton the country will not “abandon the world,” and pursue our enemies defeat the IS and stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
To rebut Donald Trump plans on Muslim immigration, Khizr Khan, the father of a 27-year-old Pakistani American Army captain, Humayun Khan, killed in 2004 in Iraq trying to save his soldiers from a bomb, challenged Trump, “You are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, if you have read the US Constitution?”
He added, “We will become stronger when Clinton becomes president.”
The four-day convention began on an uneasy note with the party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigning after WikiLeaks revealed emails by party leaders strategising to undermine Sanders, who is Jewish by portraying him as an atheist, and a vociferous revolt by his supporters.
The scenario changed on the second day, when Sanders strongly endorsed her. Every major political speaker from Obama to Clinton herself praised Sanders for bringing progressive ideas to the public discourse.
Now in the tight race, polls have been seesawing. The latest polls released Thursday and consolidated by Real Clear Politics showed Clinton leading by between 1 per cent and 9 per cent, enjoying a bounce from the Convention coverage and reversing Trump’s edge.
Keeping and building the lead will require reaching out to discontented Republicans made uneasy by Trump’s rhetoric and anti-establishment streak. Besides adding to her margins, the Republicans may offset any loss of votes from die-hard Sandrs supporters.
The Convention presented a parade of Republican Party notables and a Texas sherrif designed to appeal to them.
Doug Elmet, who had worked with late President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) as his spokesperson, declared “Trump is no Reagan,” the icon of the right, and said he would vote Democrat for the first time.
Sherriff Lupe Valdez spoke in defence of her beleaguered law enforcement colleagues under attack from sections of the Democratic Party base. She went on to present family members of police off killed in action.
With a large number of voters questioning her trustworthiness because of the email scandal involving her communications being kept on a private computer in contravention of government rules and her handling of the Benghazi attack on the US consulate there and it aftermath, Obama took on the issue head-on.
In his endorsement speech he admitted she made mistakes, but so had everyone at some time. Sitting on the sidelines was not the way to avoid mistakes he said.