PHILADELPHIA — The 2016 Democratic National Convention ended late Thursday with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepting the party’s nomination for president, promising that “I will be a President for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. For the struggling, the striving and the successful. For those who vote for me and those who don’t. For all Americans.”
In her acceptance speech, Clinton shared her image of her mother, her role model and the seed of her concern for children. Clinton’s mother was abandoned by her parents and had to raise herself working as a housemaid. Clinton said that when she fought to help disabled children gain equal access to education, while working for the Children’s Defense Fund, it was her mother’s difficult childhood she pictured.
Clinton credited her mother for her own pluck and courage.
“When I tried to hide from the neighborhood bully, she literally blocked the door,” Clinton said. “And she was right. You have to stand up to bullies,” she said, an apparent reference to the GOP nominee, Donald Trump.
She took other, more direct swipes at Trump, portraying him as someone easily provoked and ill-suited to be commander-in-chief — “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons” — and highlighting his privileged upbringing while recounting her own working class roots.
She also attacked Trump for his broad-brush approach to policy while painting her own wonkishness as a virtue.
“It’s true… I sweat the details of policy – whether we’re talking about the exact level of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, the number of mental health facilities in Iowa, or the cost of your prescription drugs.”
She continued, “Because it’s not just a detail if it’s your kid — if it’s your family it’s a big deal. And it should be a big deal to your president.”
And she thanked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for bringing economic and social issues to the front of the Democratic agenda.
“And to all of your supporters here and around the country. I want you to know. I’ve heard you. Your cause is our cause. Our country needs your ideas, energy and passion.”
Clinton gave a litany of the Democratic party’s platform: creating more clean energy jobs; developing comprehensive immigration reform; establishing a “living wage” and universal healthcare; appointing Supreme Court justices “to get money out of politics.”
She hinted that she would reject “unfair trade deals,” a subtle nod to the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, which many Sanders fans have opposed arguing that it will raise drug prices and cost American jobs — a treaty she initially backed.
She pledge to protect Social Security as well as a woman’s right to terminate pregnancies.
Earlier in the evening, members of Congress, 9/11 survivors, and celebrities presented their candidate as a woman of courage, compassion and heart, whose resilience has seen her overcome countless challenges.
The women of the Senate spoke of Clinton as a compassionate doer, while military generals praised her toughness and calm temperament and professed their faith in her ability to make life and death decisions.
But no one did a better job of characterizing Clinton than her only child, Chelsea.
Chelsea described a mother who left individual notes for each day she was away on business, and a grandmother who delighted Chelsea’s own daughter Charlotte with countless readings of “Chugga Chugga Choo Choo” over Facetime.
But Chelsea also spoke of the times her mother was tested. In the summer of 1994, Clinton lost her fight for universal healthcare. “She fought her heart out and she lost. … And then she got right back to work, because she thought she could still make a difference for kids,” Chelsea said.
When others ask her about her mother’s ability to never give up on a cause, Chelsea told them her secret: “She never forgets who she’s fighting for.”
Dozens of other speeches lauded Clinton’s character, aiming to capture her authenticity and her concern for others. From the 9/11 survivor and amputee who shared in a video how Clinton promised she would dance at her wedding and followed through on that oath, to the parents of Humayan S.M. Khan, a Muslim American who served in the U.S. Army and was killed in Iraq.
“Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future,” said Khizr Kahn of Virginia, Humayan’s father. “Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” he said, holding up a pocket-sized edition.
“Vote for the healer. Vote for the strongest, most qualified candidate.”
Organizers even recruited some Republicans to endorse Clinton, including Doug Elmets, a former Reagan Administration official, who throughout last week’s convention in Cleveland drew comparisons to Ronald Reagan.
“I knew Ronald Reagan, I worked for Ronald Reagan – Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan! … Trump is a petulant, dangerous unbalanced reality star who will … alienate allies.”
And the women of Congress also stood up for Clinton.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) described how, as Secretary of State, Clinton helped her connect couples in Minnesota with orphan children following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. She expected that someone at Clinton’s level would pass the task off on an underling, but she didn’t.
“That’s Hillary the friend who takes the call, the mom who gets it done right,” said Klobuchar.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) praised Clinton’s work in fighting conservatives who tried to block access to Plan B emergency contraception.
“We refused to back down until the FDA did their job and put science and women first,” she said.
Another star of the evening was Sarah McBride, the first transgender person to speak at the convention of a major party.
“But despite our progress so much work remains. … Tomorrow we can be respected and protected especially if Hillary Clinton is elected president.”