As you surely know, Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed former Secretary Hillary Clinton at a joint appearance in New Hampshire today.
I listened on the radio to their respective speeches. Bernie was inspirational as he recapped his campaign themes and said that he believed Hillary Clinton would be faithful to his agenda. Hillary Clinton echoed much of what Bernie Sanders said. Both sought unity, facing what is likely to be a tough campaign against Donald Trump. Trump has turned his campaign into an almost stereotypical Republican tough-guy appeal to the Silent Majority. He continually tells people that America is weak but he is strong. He supports “America First,” a phrase that I thought was long associated with the discredited isolationist wing of the GOP. He says that the world laughs at us because we are losers; he will turn us into winners again. I listened to him speak in Indiana this evening, and he said–referring to the Dallas shootings–that he is the candidate who is “tough on crime.” He said again and again that he would build the wall shutting off our southern border, with a gate that opens only for those who have met legal requirements. He said to the crowd, “Who will pay for the wall?” And they thundered back, “Mexico!” I want to know why Trump thinks that the Mexican government is ready to pay billions of dollars to build a wall. I don’t get it.
He is hitting all the right notes in appealing to an angry, fearful public, one that is rightfully worried about their jobs and their economic well-being. Underlying their fear, however, is old-fashioned nativism, a sense that outsiders, aliens, immigrants are taking over the country and that white males are losing their commanding power.
I juxtapose these events with my day. I decided a few days ago that since I had endorsed Hillary and plan to vote for her, I would make a contribution to her campaign. I bought tickets to a special matinee of “Hamilton,” whose cast and crew put on a Tuesday matinee for a private performance dedicated to her campaign. I sat with my partner, Mary, my son and his spouse, and our 9-year-old grandson. For reasons I don’t understand, the show has an enormous following among teens and pre-teens. My grandson was mouthing the words as he watched.
The show was everything it is cracked up to be. I am not a huge fan of rap, yet this show won me over. It seemed to be a rap operetta. The energy of the dancing and staging is remarkable. It is dazzling, fast-moving, and conceptually brilliant. It is the story of the founding of America, with the founding fathers played by actors of color. The show was introduced by historian Ron Chernow, who wrote the Hamilton biography that served as source material for the play.
When it ended, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man who wrote the book, music, and lyrics, spoke to the audience about the show. He literally reinvented the founding of our nation to include everyone. He said the show was about our founding ideals, and our struggle to reach them, which always fell short. Because humans are fallible, he said, we never reach them, yet we keep trying. And he posed the question: Who is likely to keep trying to meet those ideals–Clinton or Trump? The choice was easy.
Miranda then introduced Hillary Clinton, who had just flown in from New Hampshire and was glowing. The audience belonged to her, so there was a lot of love in the room.
Bernie Sanders promised to travel the nation to rally his followers to vote for Clinton. The threat of a Trump presidency is unthinkable. From his performance today, we can expect that he will use his travels to build the movement that he launched. And that will be good for all of us.