Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last night was an historic event. Historic because she is the first woman to be nominated by either party to run for president, and historic because of whom she is running against and her position as the last line of defense against a fascist threat in America.
"America is once again at a moment of reckoning," she warned the audience. "Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart. Bonds of trust and respect are fraying."
"And just as with our founders, there are no guarantees," she went on. "It truly is up to us. We have to decide whether we all will work together so we all can rise together."
While Clinton has never been a great public speaker, she spoke forcefully as a progressive Democrat last night and defined herself in stark contrast to Donald Trump. It was substance versus bluster, and Clinton presented herself as a policy wonk and a highly competent leader with the calm and temperament to lead the country through tumultuous times. Trump, she argued, was a loose cannon, unfit for office and a threat to the nation's stability.
"Does Donald Trump have the temperament to be commander-in-chief?" she asked the audience. "Donald Trump can’t even handle the rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign. He loses his cool at the slightest provocation. When he’s gotten a tough question from a reporter. When he’s challenged in a debate. When he sees a protester at a rally. Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."
Clinton tore into Trump repeatedly, dismantling the non stop lies he has been telling and exposing the myths he has been propagating about himself.
"He also talks a big game about putting America first," said Clinton. "Please explain to me what part of “America first” leads him to make Trump ties in China, not Colorado. Trump suits in Mexico, not Michigan. Trump furniture in Turkey, not Ohio. Trump picture frames in India, not Wisconsin. Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again – well, he could start by actually making things in America again."
What Clinton lacks in style, she makes up in substance -- a point she clearly understands and is aiming to turn into a strength over the next few months.
"It's true, I sweat the details of policy," she told the audience. "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. 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."
Reaching out to Bernie Sanders supporters, Clinton urged the party to unify in order to enact many of the policies their candidate brought to the forefront of the election.
"To all of your [Bernie Sanders'] supporters here and around the country: I want you to know, I've heard you," said Clinton. "Your cause is our cause. Our country needs your ideas, energy, and passion. That's the only way we can turn our progressive platform into real change for America. We wrote it together – now let's go out there and make it happen together."
And this was where Clinton sought to define the true difference between herself and Donald Trump. She used the work "we" 160 times, and referenced herself only 70 times during her speech-- a deliberate ratio no doubt, and a stark contrast to the egoic vision of America laid out by Donald Trump who believes he is the only person able to restore the country to its former greatness.
"Don't believe anyone who says: “I alone can fix it,”" said Clinton. "Those were actually Donald Trump's words in Cleveland."
"And they should set off alarm bells for all of us. Really? I alone can fix it? Isn't he forgetting? Troops on the front lines. Police officers and fire fighters who run toward danger. Doctors and nurses who care for us. Teachers who change lives. Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem. Mothers who lost children to violence and are building a movement to keep other kids safe. He's forgetting every last one of us. Americans don't say: “I alone can fix it.” We say: “We'll fix it together.”"
In truth, Clinton's speech was not a great one -- particularly when contrasted with President Obama's astonishing performance the night before. But it did not need to be. "The truth is, through all these years of public service, the “service” part has always come easier to me than the “public” part," Clinton told the audience, reminding them of her vulnerabilities as a campaign candidate.
But America does not need a campaign candidate, it needs a presidential candidate who is qualified to lead the most powerful nation on earth and fight for those most in need. Donald Trump is not that person, and Hillary Clinton is -- a simple contrast that was made abundantly apparent last night.