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A tale of two Americas

By Jacob Edelman

Section: Opinions

October 7, 2016

Out of many, we are one. After November 8, regardless of the results, it is together as one nation that we will have to proceed. We are stronger that way. In the wake of the presidential debate on September 26, however, it was clear that only one of the two major candidates understood that truth as well.

That evening, two visions for America were laid out, both directly and indirectly: one by Hillary Clinton and one by Donald Trump. Clinton’s vision was one by which America can leap into the future as one nation and be stronger because of it: together all the way. Trump’s vision was one of an America divided along lines of race, gender, shape and size, appearance, mental and physical ability and willingness to accept facts as true.

We saw in the debate that in Clinton’s America, we invest in our people because we know that is how to stimulate the economy, get people to work and create prosperity that lasts beyond any one presidency. In Clinton’s America, we support those who come to our nation in search of a better life because we do not forget that we are a nation of immigrants, with each successive generation becoming richer and more diverse because of the contributions brought by every new group of people. In Clinton’s America, we take steps to protect our environment, because we have but one planet for all seven billion of us to live on, and we need to take steps to protect it.

We saw in the debate that in Trump’s America, we would only accept the facts that suit his twisted “truths.” In Trump’s America, he did not support the war in Iraq, despite there being audio of him saying in an interview that he did. In Trump’s America, he can’t release his tax returns because he is under audit, despite the I.R.S. announcing to the public that he can release the returns while under audit. In Trump’s America, fact is irrelevant, because they expose him as the con artist he is.

We saw in the debate that in Clinton’s America, we take a stand against racism, sexism, cruelty and bullying. We call those things out for what they are and take action to create a kinder and more just country for all of our citizens. Clinton understands that equality is a part of our most fundamental ideals and that we must do what it takes to live up to that.

We saw in the debate that in Trump’s America, racism, sexism, cruelty and bullying are accepted as commonplace. That it is somehow defensible to refer to women as “pigs, slobs and dogs.” That it is somehow defensible to characterize the first man of color elected to the presidency as not being an American citizen. That it is somehow defensible to characterize and profile entire groups of citizens based on the color of their skin.

The contrasts between Hillary Clinton’s America and Donald Trump’s America could not be more stark. One is an America of promise and hope, while the other is an America of pessimism and hard knocks. One is an America in which when we disagree, we do so based on logic and discourse, while the other is an America in which we attack each other based on how we look. One is an America grounded in the idea that it is not, in fact, an America belonging to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, but an America belonging to everybody. That America is the one idealized by Clinton, and is the one that was promoted by her on September 26.

In the coming debates, I expect this ideal to be put on display once again for the American voter. It is my hope that everyone who believes in it makes their convictions heard and accounted for this November 8 and beyond.

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