Hillary reminds us who ‘the Donald’ really is — forcing the centre-ground to unite around her campaign
In a speech focussing on the “Alternative-right” takeover of the Republican Party, Hillary Clinton frames her opponent as an extremist unable to respect and serve as a President for all Americans.
“There is no other Donald Trump. This is it.”
Nothing winds Donald Trump up more than a Hillary Clinton speech on the state of his campaign and his record of xenophobic and utterly bigoted slurs. Clinton’s latest speech — denouncing the ‘alt-right’ connection to the Trump campaign, the candidate himself, and, increasingly, the Republican Party as the Republican nominee continues to have problems with his past extremist rhetoric.
In the speech, Hillary Clinton set out a thirty-five minute take down of Trump’s campaign to date, quoting his entire campaign’s extremist fringes, from the time he said a US Judge cannot do his job properly because of his Mexican heritage, or the time he called women he disagreed with, pigs. What was truly powerful in this respect though was the way she compared his ideals to the values and policies of others.
On the party front, she compared Trump’s racist rhetoric to the time Bob Dole told all racists in the Republican Party to ‘get out’ — a stark contrast to Trump’s policy of a ban on all muslim immigration to the United States. The comparison of George W. Bush in the aftermath heading to Mosques in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks and proclaiming that “muslims love America too”, a powerful reminder that even the those thought as the most extreme conservatives in modern times are less extreme than the rhetoric of Donald Trump, who proclaimed that muslims in New Jersey “cheered” when the World Trade Centre fell.
But perhaps most powerful of all was the comparison of Trump’s vetting and muslim ban policy when it comes to immigration to the policies of the so-called Islamic State:
“In Trump’s America, the immigration officer would ask every single person ‘what is your religion?’… America would be the only country in the world to impose a religious test at the border. Well, one other states does — the Islamic State”
Beyond everything, the comparison of the Donald Trump style of extremism and the barbaric, violent form of extremism that the Islamic State utilise in their efforts against western liberal democracy is one that fills most voters with dread and fear- particularly LGBTQ voters and people of colour. Hillary painted Donald Trump’s alternative right, non-conventional conservative extremism as the extreme reaction to ISIS, and as something just as evil and barbaric as ISIS, and something that must be voted against.
Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have already been riding high in the polls since the Democratic National convention, which Clinton used to portray herself as the positive and progressive choice for President. This speech didn’t continue that theme, but instead courted centrist and moderate voters, particularly independents which make up the majority of the US electorate. The power of this speech is that it simply cements the lead and the endorsements Hillary has received from major Republicans and other conservative leaders who find Trump’s extremist conservatism hateful and distasteful and simply cannot support the candidate of their party. Hillary’s speech locks these moderate Republicans in, and opens the drawbridge for an exodus of more and more to come.
The Democratic Convention was an event that featured this dynamic of bringing in moderate and centrist voters, with President Obama painting an image of disbelief at Trump’s candidacy and inviting Republicans to come and join the Democratic voter coalition. Meanwhile, the appearance of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the one-time Republican turned independent was present to smack down Trump and endorse Clinton for the Presidency, alongside Pentagon officials, police chiefs and others who all fear the prospect of a Trump Presidency.
There is obviously an electoral advantage for the Democrats and the Clinton campaign for holding Trump’s feat to the fire over the slurs, and the promotion of extremism that he has delved into over the course of his primary and now election campaign. Doing so however is about less than that electoral advantage — its about ensuring a moderate to liberal coalition of voters is in place to deliver a Clinton Presidency and devastate a Trump campaign and Republican Party toying with extremism, with xenophobia, and with bringing the alternative right into mainstream conservative values.
Above all, its about creating an America built on the values that we are stronger together and where Love. Trumps. Hate.
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