When a candidate for elected office campaigns, they campaign around a vision of the county, city, state, and country that they represent and hope to see thrive. The rhetoric employed by a candidate over the course of a campaign will flesh this vision out, and the informed voter can build, from the ground up, the vision of the candidate.
Hillary Clinton, in urging voters to turn away from Donald Trump’s platform during a rally in Brooklyn, claimed “this election is not, however, about the same old fights between Democrats and Republicans. This election is different. It really is about who we are as a nation. It’s about millions of Americans coming together to say: We are better than this. We won’t let this happen in America.”
In order to understand what Hillary means specifically when she reflects on “who we are as a nation,” I turn to her speech at the DNC following her reception of the nomination as the democratic candidate for the office of the President of the United States.
If this election is truly about “who we are as a nation,” Hillary’s logos reflects a certain type of America in which she, and by extension anyone who votes for her, believes. Voting for a candidate entails an acceptance of their logos as a shared belief in the way certain things should be.
Hillary creates a version of America that she believes is within reach, and she asks that Americans trust her to be the one to lead the country to this shared goal of continuing to make America a great place to live. It is accepted that America is a great place in general; otherwise the people at the DNC or those all over the world (at naval and military bases, embassies, etc.) would not be participating in the voting process.
The general line of thinking that both Hillary and her supporters follow is that America used to be strong because it supported the people of America and not just the elite, that America is still a strong nation that is not being torn apart by fear and hatred, and that America (with Hillary at the helm) will become a success that rivals a bygone era of American success.
The general vision of America that her audience and supporters are buying into is actually a familiar one, as her rhetoric resembles the post-WWII America that became a superpower through infrastructure, burgeoning industry, and a strong middle class. Her evocation of Roosevelt falls right in line with this and the parallels she draws between the Great Depression and the Great Recession furthers the idea that she is the right candidate to, ironically, “make America great again,” by bringing it back to its former strength.
America has come such a far distance away from these “glory days” that Clinton’s rhetoric sounds progressive. Even her point on climate change and “believing in science” recalls this boom time, where technology was embraced as the country moved towards “the future.” Throwing her faith behind science shows her to be more progressive than typical Republicans, who are often maligned for advocating that evolution not be taught in schools despite all of the evidence showing it to be scientific fact.
Hillary’s America is obviously an ideal, but by framing it with the rhetoric of the past she gives it historical precedence. Her platform is build on this type of rhetoric; she has her own vision, sprinkled with Bernie Sander’s concerns, and kept far away from Donald Trump’s vision. By going through Hillary’s DNC speech and highlighting the areas where she speaks of America as a collective, I have found that her America is one steeped with values of the past but unafraid to embrace the diversity of the future, from the types of people that consider themselves to be Americans and the emerging technologies that will carry the nation into the future.