The keynote speeches at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia were a fantastic reminder of just how potent is the idea of ‘America’. The President and the First Lady are perhaps more comfortable speakers, but I thought Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech on Thursday evening (which I’ve only just watched) was actually the most persuasive analysis of what the country stands for and what it can be.
In particular, citing e pluribus unum as a rebuke to Donald Trump:
And most of all, don’t believe anyone who says: “I alone can fix it.”
Those were actually Donald Trump’s words in Cleveland. And they should set off alarm bells for all of us.
Really? I alone can fix it? Isn’t he forgetting? Troops on the front lines.Police officers and fire fighters who run toward danger. Doctors and nurses who care for us. Teachers who change lives. Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem. Mothers who lost children to violence and are building a movement to keep other kids safe.
He’s forgetting every last one of us. Americans don’t say: “I alone can fix it.”
We say: “We’ll fix it together.”
Remember: Our Founders fought a revolution and wrote a Constitution so America would never be a nation where one person had all the power. Two hundred and forty years later, we still put our faith in each other.
A positive message, delivered well. I feel confident that this appeal, to a proud history and to a striving spirit, will be enough to turn people away from the moral emptiness of Mr Trump.
I also want to bookmark this passage, which is as a good a description of the foundations of my own politics.
20 years ago I wrote a book called “It Takes a Village.” A lot of people looked at the title and asked, what the heck do you mean by that?
This is what I mean.
None of us can raise a family, build a business, heal a community or lift a country totally alone.
America needs every one of us to lend our energy, our talents, our ambition to making our nation better and stronger.
It’s a version of John Donne’s Meditation XVII:
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.