DNC Day 2, Fight of Her Life
by Nadya Okamoto
The second day of the Democratic National Convention, July 26, 2016, was less about party unity than the first day, and was much more about how Hillary Clinton is the candidate that is both relatable and the future president who would fight for “fellow Americans.” Actress Elizabeth Banks seemed to somehow emcee the event, coming out at each transition into a new topic making jokes and an introduction in front of the large screen which said “Fight of Her Life.” Videos were used throughout the night to highlight ridiculous and angering quotes and values reflected by Donald Trump, and to show how Hillary’s fight for a better America has been a lifetime venture. Throughout the entire program, the message that the audience was clearly supposed to take-away was that Hillary Clinton has devoted her entire life to public service, has made tremendous impact, and is overqualified for her position as President, if anything.
I arrived at the Wells Fargo Center after the roll call of the states just before 8pm just in time to watch Elizabeth Banks walk out on stage with the smoke machine. I spent the whole day assisting Wendy Davis — shadowing her, learning from her, aiding her, and following her to her speaking and interview engagements of the day (she is a formal surrogate for Hillary Clinton). Within the first five minutes, in hearing hearing Donna Bazile (vice-chair of the DNC), it was clear that the theme of the night would be “I’m with Hillary Clinton because she’s with us.” Clinton’s track record of fighting for human rights, gender equality, peace, health care, and ability to listen over taking the spotlight for herself would be woven into every speech that was given last night.
The night of highlighting Hillary’s “fight for us” began with her potential to end racial injustices. One of the most moving segments of the night was from the “Mothers of the Movement,” who were introduced by Tony Goldwin, the actor who plays Fitz on the show Scandal. He described the group of mothers who have all lost children to police brutality as a group of “women who have turned their pain into power and their anger into action.” Before they walked out on stage, a video was played about how Hillary had privately met with these mothers who lost their children to hear them out and try to find solutions through collaboration with them. As they walked out on stage the crowd began to shout “Black Lives Matter.” I was almost in tears before they even spoke. Sandra Bland’s mother spoke first, saying “One year ago, yesterday, I watched my daughter lowered into the ground” after she was found hanging in a jail cell for a traffic stop, an unlawful arrest, and an unlawful death.” She said, “I am here with Hillary Clinton because she is a leader and a mother who will say our children’s name.” The mother of Jordan Davis, who was “shot and killed for playing loud music,” spoke next. “Hillary Clinton isn’t afraid to say that black lives matter,” “not only did she listen to our problems, but she invited us to be a part of the solution,” she said. The mothers were filled with determination to keep working with Hillary Clinton “so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing.” Trayvon Martin’s mother spoke last, saying that Clinton has “the compassion and understanding to support grieving mothers.”
When Elizabeth Banks came out after that, she was still wiping the tears from her eyes, like the majority of the emotional audience. She proclaimed into the microphone, “Are there any women in the audience? No duh! We’re half the population! We’re everywhere, and we matter.” Then, Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood walked out on stage and quoted Hillary Clinton on how “women’s rights are human rights.” She spoke in support of Hillary Clinton saying “women’s lives are on the line and on the ballot in this election.” She ended with, “Well, Mr. Trump, come November, women are gonna be a lot more than an inconvenience because they will be the reason you lose the election.” Richards was followed by two young A-list feminists, Lena Dunham and America Ferrera, immediately calling out Donald Trump for what he has said about women, their bodies personally, and their race. Ferrara beautifully proclaimed, “I am the proud child of Honduran immigrants,” and also proud product of public schools and public arts programs.” As many voices echoed that night, “Hillary Clinton has spent the last forty years proving what she sees in us (women).” Senator Barbara Boxer from California closed off the focus on women’s rights saying, “We are never, ever, going back to the dark days when women died in back alleys.”
The next focus of the program was Hillary Clinton’s quick and impactful response to the 9/11 attacks, during which she was a New York senator. Laura Manning, who was burned on 82% of her body in the attacks, spoke of how she fought to heal in tribute of her friends and colleagues who were killed in the attacks, and her son who was just 10 months old at the time. It was said that while Hillary Clinton worked to fight for America to heal, “Trump saw 9/11 as a payday to make a buck.”
Elizabeth then led the conversation to focus on Hillary Clinton’s work with fighting for children and early education, especially for kids with disabilities, then to healthcare, and then her work as Secretary of State. Regarding health care, former Vermont senator, Howard Dean said that “90% of Americans are covered,” and now “we need to elect someone who will finish the job,” and that person is Clinton.
When Hillary was Secretary of State, she traveled to over 100 countries “to make America safe,” and fight to end “sex trafficking, human rights abuses, and the fight for women and girls.” She traveled to the Middle East during conflict to make ceasefire possible between Israel and Palestine. She was essential to bringing climate to the forefront of our global conversation, and interacted with victims of human trafficking in far out places in this world. Madeleine Albright made a speech pushing that “we must do everything we can to make sure Hillary becomes our next commander-in-chief.” Albright says that “I have seen her fight and win for our country for causes that count,” “she stopped terrorism, she stopped the spread of nuclear weapons,” and is “the person that represents our country and is trusted by our allies.” Albright also spoke out against Donald Trump. According to her, “Donald Trump has already done damage just by running for president,” and “has a strange admiration for dictators.” “Take it from someone who fled the iron curtain,” she said, “I know what happens when you give the Russians the green light,” and Putin has already showed that he really wants Donald Trump to win.
Bill Clinton spoke next, introduced by a heartwarming video of his handwriting letter responses to “real” average Americans and connecting with “fellow Americans.” He told the story of falling in love with Hillary Clinton, how they met and how she made the first move after he pined after her for a couple weeks, and how he witnessed her constantly enacting change and interacting with Americans in need since their first year of law school. He tracked her success as a mother, and “change maker” throughout his entire speech. The audience held thousands of signs that said “change maker” or “fighting for us” on them. He spoke of meeting her middle-class family in Illinois, his romantic gestures, his trying three times to propose, and his gratitude for having her as an amazing mother and wife. He acknowledged that there is a big difference between the Hillary he speaks about, and the one that the RNC speaks of, and says the difference is that “one is real and the other’s made up,” and the one that is the real is the one that Democrats just elected as their presidential nominee. The crowd erupted in applause as he walked off the stage. I felt more motivated and inspired than I had ever before in my life, all by hearing the career trajectory and dedication of Hillary Clinton.
Meryl Streep, in a blouse printed with the American flag, came out next. She outlined, as said by a speaker yesterday as well, that being the “first female anything” takes “grit and grace,” both of which Hillary Clinton embodies. She listed off other females who made history (ending with Hillary Clinton), telling the story of the “first woman to take a bullet” for America, Deborah Sampson, who fought for George Washington’s army dressed as a man (and sewed up a bullet wound herself). She said that these women all have the “capacity of mind, fillers of heart, and burning passion for their cause.” Alicia Keys then sang “Super Woman” and one of her newer songs, saying quotes against the background of her band’s music, like “we are stronger together,” “let’s see our differences and celebrate them,” “Dr. King said that the last word must be love!”
After she walked off of stage, the video on the screen began to flip through images of every President and zoomed out to show the mosaic of their portraits — from George Washington to Barack Obama. Suddenly it was silent, then there was the blasting sound of breaking glass, and the image was shattered and Hillary Clinton’s face appeared (blinking and live) and the crowd went wild. My eyes brimmed with tears and pride in my country (as they are now). After a few minutes of nonstop applause, Hillary Clinton began to speak and thank Democrats. She ended by speaking to all the young women and girls out there, saying, “I may become the first woman President, but you’re up next.”