Those who watched last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland must have winced at the rhetoric of pessimism that played out at the event. While the Republican nominee for the presidential election Donald Trump may have mourned the depletion of manufacturing in the US, the fear factory was humming. If there is anything going right in the US, Mr Trump was unable to discern it. The perceived wrongs, however, were amplified: That oration was all about doom and gloom. This week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia provides an opportunity to the party’s presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton to shine a light into that long night. Her candidacy itself is a transcendent proposition, a chance to make history as the first woman to govern America. While Mr Trump will largely bank upon votes from white Americans, Ms Clinton will depend upon a rainbow coalition, one that may benefit from outsize support from African-American, Hispanic, Asian and LGBT voters. Her words will have to match that mosaic, offering an inclusive agenda.
Ms Clinton is also running for what is really Barack Obama’s third term. She can profit from maintaining that sense of continuity. A majority of Americans approve of the job that Mr Obama is doing, according to Gallup. He is seen as a pragmatic centrist. Ms Clinton may well have chosen Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate as he is known for his proximity to Mr Obama and was on the 2008 vice-presidential pick shortlist. In practical terms, Ms Clinton is an incumbent, and she has to make the case that America isn’t collapsing while offering a vision of renewal. Mr Obama has refuted Mr Trump’s assertion of growing violence and racial tensions in US cities. Ms Clinton will use her four-day convention to counter Mr Trump’s anger with a celebratory tone and inclusive message, including to her recent rival Bernie Sanders’ still disgruntled supporters.
As the event concludes on Thursday, Ms Clinton could emerge with positive momentum if she can emulate two successful candidates who will headline the event: Mr Obama, who built a movement on Hope and Change; and her husband Bill, the boy from Hope. An uplifting tone will raise her and her prospects above Mr Trump’s great divide. A message against the Trump litany of hopelessness will be her calling card.