Hate. Betty Deas Clark has seen its devastation up close.
Just over a year ago, a 21-year-old white supremacist committed a massacre in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina. He killed nine people, including the Methodist pastor.
To replace him, Betty Deas Clark was recruited, a challenge that she took on at the end of last month. The voice of this African-American woman is soft. Her tone is soothing. You quickly understand why she was asked to dress the wounds of the faithful of Charleston. “The church and the city chose to forgive and not to hate. I’m happy about that,”* says the woman who has a single distinguishing sign: a large golden cross hanging from her neck.
She adds, “Following this model is going to help our country heal, to go forward and prosper.”*
To allow the United States to move forward in the next four years, she trusts Hillary Clinton, who has shown that she can “unify the country,” unlike Donald Trump, who “seems to be dividing the country.”
This religious leader came to Philadelphia to take part in the convention as a campaigner for gun control; she is therefore on the same wavelength as the Democratic candidate. Hillary Clinton has promised to restrict access to firearms if she is elected in November.
On this issue, as on several others, Clinton is the polar opposite of Trump. And the most fervent Democrats, gathered in Philadelphia, are the polar opposite of the Republicans found in Cleveland last week.
In attending the Democratic Convention, you start to have a good idea of what the Hillary Clinton-Tim Kaine duo is proposing to Americans for the next four years. They wish to protect the legacy of Barack Obama, who has probably been the most progressive president since Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969) on the domestic policy level.
They want to use this legacy as a foundation. They propose adding several new floors. Their Republican rival would love to blow it up.
Including health care reform, which was a blessing for millions of Americans, the Democrats want to continue by injecting $40 billion into community clinics. They also want to walk in Obama’s footsteps to protect the environment and fight against climate change, all efforts mocked by the Republicans.
Immigration continues to be the main issue. “Once Hillary is elected, she will, in her first 100 days, submit immigration reform to the members of Congress,”* explains Walter Tejada, a Spanish-speaking former politician from Virginia.
He is crystal clear that, according to him, Latinos can trust the Democratic candidate. “When she was younger, she went to Texas to encourage members of our community to register to vote. She didn’t have to do that, but she chose to do it,” he explains, on the subject of the initiative taken up by Hillary Clinton in 1972.*
As much on stage as among campaigners, several Democrats also stress that the candidate, as a woman, will be more sensitive to the issues that have not figured, up until now, to be presidential priorities. She would like, for example, to establish paid parental leave and to fight for equal pay.
Her position on abortion – she is pro-choice – contrasts with that of Trump and that of his running mate, Mike Pence.
“All her life, she has defended the health of women and children. She is going to continue to protect the rights of women in regard to procreation,”* Alison Wade, a Democratic supporter from Nebraska, says passionately.
This 30-something can’t believe that the Republicans have promised to do everything to outlaw abortion, including the nomination of ultraconservative judges to the Supreme Court, with the goal of overturning the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.
“These nominations… If Trump is elected, it will be the most devastating thing about his presidency,” she says. “He would change the Supreme Court into a conservative bench for the next 40 years.”* It’s undeniable. And it will have a profound effect – in the short, medium and long term — on American society. Among the good number of potential changes, the Republicans promise to outlaw same sex marriage again.
Late tomorrow night, at the end of the Democratic Convention, the choice will be crystal clear for Americans: choose the 180 degree turn announced by Trump in the less than delicate way of a bull in a china shop, or vote for a candidate who proposes to voters continuing straight, to climb the incline. This abrupt incline, which is surmounted slowly, leads to a more just and egalitarian society.
*Editor’s note: These quoted remarks, though accurately translated, could not be independently verified.