The Democratic National Convention played out this week in Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love and home to the birthplace of our nation. There was the predictable line-up of speakers, and the formal nomination of Hillary Clinton as the first female presidential candidate from a major political party in our country, and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, as her vice-presidential running mate.
In reality, however, the Democratic National Convention symbolized far more than the traditional nominating showcase for the party’s White House candidates. This convention carried with it a mandate to take back America from the hate and fear mongers that terrorized the nation for much of the previous week as the Republican Party held its convention in Cleveland.
The world was watching as First Lady Michelle Obama took to the Democratic convention stage and mesmerized us by being, at once, political and apolitical, stirring and comforting, as she glided between patriotism, feminism, family, home, race and partisanship, eloquently reminding all of us that what we had been hearing the previous week from the Republican Presidential nominee was not only untrue, but radically irresponsible.
The First Lady reminded us that America has not lost its way, has not forgotten its past, and has not become some sort of vigilante state that needed to be made great again.
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great—that somehow we need to make it great again—because this right now is the greatest country on Earth,” she told the audience. “And as my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth.”
There was a steadiness in your eyes and voice that dared you to doubt that she spoke the truth. None of the shouting we had seen from the Republican carnival. No naked pandering to prejudice that Donald Trump had dared to pass off as reality.
His address was a toxic combination of unsubstantiated claims. “Excessive regulation is costing our country as much as $2 trillion a year,” Trump said, before added that ending such regulation will produce more then $20 trillion in job-creating economic activity.”
Trump also dared to repeat his ridiculous assumption that “NATO is obsolete,” as if any organization that worked toward world peace could possible become archaic—ever.
In any other election year, such talk along with the verbal bashing that Trump has directed toward Mexicans and Muslims, as well as the character assassination of Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, would have had the international press reeling in disbelief and demanding that the Republican party disown itself from such absurd and mindless chatter. Instead, journalists have been so barraged by the never-ending insults and farcicalities that no one can focus on any single insult, the barrage is that great.
And then suddenly reason returned to America in the form of the First Lady of the United States whose approval rating has reached nearly 80 percent across all political parties, races and religions.
“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” the First Lady said. “And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn,” she continued. “And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”
As we move now away from conventions and into months of predictably contentious campaigning, the LGBT community is going to find itself stage center: disparaged by the Republicans as being everything from unnatural to evil, and embraced by the Democrats as being part of a nation that places equality at its cornerstone of our heritage.
It is quite likely that Florida will again be the state that decides this election, just as it’s been in previous presidential campaigns. The difference this time is that the fabric of our very nation is at stake, and the future of the world as we know it is going to be decided.
The Republicans know that as well. It is for that reason and no other that Donald Trump made history on the final day of his convention by embracing the LGBT community—the first mention of gays in any Republican convention, a move considered by many to be a watershed moment.
That such a gratuitous gesture came at the end of one of the most aggressive sessions of the Republican-led Congress is as hollow as it is transparent.
Make no mistake. Just as the world’s eyes were on the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia for signs of strength in the face of lunacy, bigotry and threats, so too is the world watching America’s LGBT community to rise above the name-calling and insecurities of the past to stand proud in our conviction that equality is not only possible, it is expected. The reality for every LGBT American is that we are no longer the followers, but the leaders. Taking back America is up to every one of us, and the battle has just begun.