Two conventions, with two different pictures of America. Last week we saw a fear-based dystopian portrait of a presidency under Donald Trump. And on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, a return to hope for the future and America’s children through the words of First Lady Michelle Obama.
“I want someone with the proven strength to persevere, someone who knows this job and takes it seriously,” Obama saifduring her prime-time convention speech rallying for Hillary Clinton after dissent echoed across the floor. “Someone who knows the issues of this job are not black and white and can’t be boiled down to 140 characters.”
Her nearly 15-minute speech (watch below) focused on the type of America she wants to see her children, Sasha and Malia, and the rest of America’s children inherit. She included some expert-level shade thrown at the Republicans and their nominee for good measure. “Protecting the children” is frequently a GOP justification for passing laws that discriminate against LGBT people (House Bill 2, anyone?). But where last week’s Republican “protection” looked like xenophobia and a state of increased policing, the rhetoric this week had a more empowering, optimistic focus.
“I want a leader who is worthy of that truth. A leader who is worthy of my girls’ promise and all of our kids' promise,” said Obama, who dedicated her time as first lady to many initiatives supporting America’s youth, including pushing for healthier school lunches and exercise, as well as championing education. “A leader that will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children.”
In contrast, Donald Trump saw himself as the leader who would fix America’s problems, despite his lack of a public service record or concrete plans for how to fix any of the problems that he outlined in his speech. He talked of returning America to “law and order,” and cited Islamic terrorism as the primary threat to LGBT Americans and the U.S. as a whole.
The Republican platform includes language that legitimizes only marriages between a man and a woman, says that parents should have complete choice over therapies for their children (which could counteract efforts to ban conversion therapy across the country), and supports efforts of states to sue the federal government to prevent the use of Title IX to end discrimination against LGBT students.
For LGBT people and especially LGBT youth, populations disproportionately affected by homelessness, criminalization, discrimination, health and wellness disparities, and other systemic barriers, the idea of a police state with no acknowledgement of the domestic barriers to LGBT success is more harmful than helpful.
It was very clear that Michelle Obama does not think Donald Trump has the range.
“Hillary understands that the presidency is about one thing and one thing only — leaving something better for our kids,” said Obama.