Smoke and Mirrors: Make America Great Again Or White Again?

20160726_221122Democrats Roll Out Heavy Hitters at Convention

PHILADELPHIA — As we fall into the second week of political jockeying with the Democratic National Convention — Americans are getting front-seat viewing from the comforts of home.

Last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland had major networks airing the line-up of speakers endorsing Donald Trump. From the first night’s plagiarized speech of Melania Trump to the final night, all of the speakers stuck to the uniform script of “Make America Great Again.” That is, except for one former presidential candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

As the only major speaker at the RNC who did not endorse the real estate tycoon, Cruz outlined similar conservative agendas that mirror Trump but fell short of uttering the words of his endorsement. Booed and criticized by Republican pundits on such a shade and rebellion, the senator reverted to Trump’s primary mud-slinging toward his wife and father. However, it has become much deeper than that.

According to Nielsen, the first night of the 2012 DNC drew about 600,000 more total viewers in early broadcast ratings (11.14 million), and a 2.6 in the demo.

The top Illinois Republicans, Gov. Bruce Rauner and Sen. Mark Kirk, did not attend the RNC activities.

Not to be overshadowed by the Republicans’ drama, but Democrats had buckets of water, putting out some major fires on Sunday. The controversial site Wikileaks released damaging emails from DNC Chair U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, allegedly suppressing the Bernie Sanders campaign from getting the same preferential treatment as the Clinton campaign. The Clinton camp is pointing at Russian-based hackers as the culprits behind the leak, forcing Rep. Wasserman Schultz to resign her DNC Chair seat.

Donna Brazile has been appointed as the DNC Chair and will officially hold her new title when the convention is over on Thursday night.

What does this say for the integrity of the DNC as Americans are weary of Clinton’s honesty factor?

Bernie Sanders supporters and some delegates are looking at this as justification to not support Clinton at the DNC, but others differ. On Monday, the DNC got off to a bumpy start with Sanders addressing 1,500 delegates and staffers in a closed-door meeting where some people booed the 74-year old senator when he encouraged them to support Clinton.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly comments, “I feel that the Illinois Bernie supporters have been respectful. The people behind us in California have been a little tough. At the end of the day, I ask the question; ‘Do they want Trump to win?’ I understand not having your candidate, but she’s the one. She won fair and square and we need to get behind her.”

Mission: Dump Trump

trumppic2Their collective mission is to beat Donald Trump.

Trump’s closing speech at last week’s RNC was a troubling and shaky speech at best with fear-induced rhetoric.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, but in Trump’s case, the RNC was surrounded by a wall of mirrors as he attacked Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama — the top drivers of his campaign on terrorism, export of jobs, immigration, dismantling Obamacare and supporting anti-gun control laws.

The continued mantra of the Republican gathering of delegates, top public officials of the party were extremely curved to the right but couldn’t attract some of the party’s top figures such as former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and others.

On the opposite side of the playing field, the Democratic Party has secured some top-heavy hitters throughout the program at the Wells Fargo Center. Monday’s opening night dispelled the RNC’s theme of ”Make America Great Again,” bringing out the most diverse attendance of delegates representing racial, religion, gender and cultural groups, with a line-up of Democratic Party figures such as New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker, who was on the short list of vice presidential candidates.

“We have a presidential nominee in Hillary Clinton who knows that, in a time of stunningly wide disparities of wealth in our nation, America’s greatness must not be measured by how many millionaires and billionaires we have, but by how few people we have living in poverty,” said Booker.

Trump throughout his speech criticized the Obama administration for criminal reform measures and blamed the two-term president for the increase of local gun violence in his hometown of Chicago.  Although he has yet to release his tax returns, he criticized the former secretary of state for her and her husband’s overseas dealings with China.

He said, “I will not make Americans subject to the rulings of foreign government. I pledge to never sell any trade agreement that diminishes this country. I will make individual deals with individual companies. America first again.”

What the former NBC television reality star failed to bank on was First Lady Michelle Obama’s roaring speech on Monday. Unlike Melania Trump — it was hers — it spoke of her experience as a parent and the responsibility that role carries into her duty as the first lady of the United States.

Since Obama’s first bid for the White House — he has been questioned and under attack by Trump. Michelle Obama shares how she assures their daughters.

“We urged them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country,” she said.

“How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. Our motto is ‘when they go low, we go high.’”

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (IL). Photo Credit: Mary L. Datcher/Chicago Defender
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (IL). Photo Credit: Mary L. Datcher/Chicago Defender

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin agreed, saying, “There’s a lot of subtle messages there — like Michelle said last night we’re already there and we’re lucky to live in the greatest nation on earth. What I hear from that message, ‘Make America Great Again’ is let’s go back to the old days and the old ways of doing things. Well, we’re not going back to the old days. There were some things going on there that we don’t want to repeat.”

 Illinois Delegation Works for Unity

After Sanders wrapped up the first day of the DNC programming — it was abundantly clear that the objective is to beat Trump in the general election. As disgruntled supporters of the Vermont senator left the arena, the passionate energy displayed on the arena floor was replaced with stubborn deliberation of choices.

Illinois delegates are enthusiastic that the party split in choices shall pass as they meet a common goal, but the message is clear — making the country great is not speaking to the masses.

Clinton delegate — Ald. Emma Mitts represents the 37th ward, where there are pockets of low-income households that are struggling in this economic climate. She feels Trump’s message would roll back the hand of time and keep Americans from improving their conditions.

“Make it great again is that you want to take us back because there is nothing wrong with the movement that we have today. I’m not sure they mean to take us back to slavery or how things were years ago. They want to take us backwards and not forward. We want to make America ‘greater’ because it’s already great.”

As immigration is a hot topic of discussion between both presidential candidates —Trump for strong deportation laws and Clinton for immigration reform — Illinois Hispanic party leaders are clear with RNC’s message.

Chicago Alderman Emma Mitts (37th Ward). Photo Credit: Mary L. Datcher
Chicago Alderman Emma Mitts (37th Ward). Photo Credit: Mary L. Datcher

Trump said in his RNC address. “We are going to build a great border wall to stop the drugs, to stop the gangs from pouring into our communities. I’ve been honored to receive the endorsement of American border agents.”

A member of the National Hispanic Caucus and the Illinois Hispanic State Legislative Caucus — State Sen. Iris Martinez’s 20th District includes a large population of Latino residents.

“We cannot afford a Trump in the White House. There is no way in hell we can afford to have him. There is too much at risk — he’s a racist and he is someone who has been out there about his hatred towards Latinos and Muslims. When you look at what’s a leader of the United States, it’s not him,” said Martinez.

As the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the Illinois State Senate, this election resonates historical meaning, the state senator added, “As a woman who has a daughter, this is an opportunity of a lifetime for us to see the first woman president.”

Tuesday night’s non-stop line-up included the new Democratic National Committee Chair, Donna Brazile; Former U. S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Actress Meryl Streep, Grammy-award recording artist Alicia Keys and former President Bill Clinton.

The DNC released the video “67,” which highlighted her accomplishments as the secretary of state, brokering ceasefire negotiations with Gaza, along with President Obama forging action toward climate change with China to working with advocates to stop human trafficking.

Democratic National Convention attendees and viewers were not bored when Bill Clinton took the stage — running down the list of achievements and his wife’s commitment to public service. Still, considered a favorite among Democrats, the 42nd president was comfortable in familiar territory.

“You could drop her in any trouble spot. Pick one. Come back in a month and somehow, some way, she will have made it better. That is just who she is. There are clear, achievable, affordable responses to our challenges. But we will not get to them if America makes the wrong choice in this election. That is why you should elect her.”

As the applause settled down — the reality of history played out and Americans witnessed that President Bill Clinton could possibly become the First Husband of the United States.

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