Wednesday was the best night of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, and Barack Obama testified to her greatness and goodness and readiness to be president. And all saw in the Republican convention in Cleveland a festival of darkness and dystopia.
Nor is this unusual. For, as the saying goes, the ins “point with pride,” while the outs “view with alarm.”
Yet the clash of visions between Cleveland and Philadelphia is stark. We appear to be two separate and hostile peoples, living apart in two separate Americas.
Obama’s America is a country of all races, creeds, colors, lifestyles, a kumbayah country to be made more wonderful still when Clinton takes the helm.
The message from Cleveland: Cry the beloved country. America has lost her way. She is in peril. A new captain is needed. A new course must be set if America is to find her way home again.
Which portrayal is the more true? Which vision of America do her people believe corresponds more closely to the reality of their daily lives?
Do Americans share Philadelphia’s belief in Clinton’s greatness and in the magisterial achievements of the Obama presidency?
Let us see. Fifty-six percent of Americans believe Clinton should have been indicted; 67 percent believe she is neither trustworthy nor honest. And 75 percent of Americans think that, under Obama, the nation is headed in the wrong direction.
After Cleveland, Trump took a 62-23 lead among white high-school graduates, those who constitute a disproportionate share of our cops, firemen, soldiers, and Marines—and those interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
Given that the media are mostly “progressives,” why do Americans who rely on that media hold so negative an opinion of Clinton, and reject the direction in which Obama is taking their country?
Does the reality they perceive help to explain it?
Consider. Obama did inherit a disastrous economy and growth has been at or near 2 percent a year since then. But this is not the growth we knew in the Reagan era.
And what, other than the trade policies we pursued, explains the deindustrialization of America, the loss of manufacturing plants and jobs, and China’s shouldering us aside to become the world’s No. 1 industrial power?
What produced Detroit and Baltimore and all those dead and dying towns in the Rust Belt?
Even Hillary Clinton, who has called TPP the “gold standard,” now rejects her husband’s NAFTA. Is this not an admission that the elites got it wrong for a quarter century?
Obama in Philadelphia celebrated our diversity.
Yet, we have seen Old Glory burned and Mexican flags flaunted this year. We have seen Black Lives Matter chant, “What do we want? Dead cops!”—then watched black racists deliver dead cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Is Ferguson America’s future?
From the podium in Philadelphia, we hear the word “love.” But in interviews, Democratic activists invoke terms of hate, such as racist, fascist, homophobe, misogynist, and sexist to describe the Cleveland Republicans.
Would the party of Philadelphia accept a President Trump?
Would the party of Cleveland accept President Clinton?
Hard to believe. Divided we stand. So, where do we go?
Given the distance between the two halves of America, given the contempt in which each seems to hold the other, we can probably drop from the Pledge of Allegiance the word “indivisible,” right after the Philadelphia Democrats succeed in cutting out the words, “under God.”
We are told our allies are nervous. They should be.
Even FDR could not lead a divided nation into war. When America divided over Vietnam, Richard Nixon had to lead us out. Our division led to America’s first defeat.
In the absence of a Pearl Harbor or 9/11 attack that brings us together in patriotic rage, Americans are not going to salute the next commander-in-chief and then go fight Russia in the eastern Baltic or China over some reefs or rocks in the South China Sea.
Even when we were more united during the Cold War, Ike and LBJ never considered using force to roll back Soviet invasions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
Our strongest ally in the Arab world, Egypt, and our NATO ally in the region, Turkey, are both descending into dictatorship. Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen are bleeding profusely in sectarian and civil wars, breaking apart along tribal and religious lines.
Could a President Trump, or Clinton, rally us to stand together and send another Army of Desert Storm over there? Not likely.
Barack Obama believes the more diverse a country we become—religiously, racially, ethnically, culturally, linguistically—the greater, better, and stronger a nation we become. And with his immigration policies, he has put us, perhaps irretrievably, on that road.
Yet, outside that Wells Fargo Center, where such sentiments seem to enrapture Democratic delegates, Europe, Africa, the Mideast, and South Asia are all being pulled apart, right along those same fault lines.
And measured by the rhetoric of Philadelphia and Cleveland, so are we.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.