Empty Suit Gives Empty Speech

Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric and the reviews. Donald Trump said absolutely nothing in his first speech to Congress last night.  Sure, he spoke 57 minutes worth of words – largely on script – but those words told us basically nothing that we didn’t already know.

Republicans across the board are lauding him for his “presidential” performance. Marc Thiessen of the Washington Post said it was the best speech he has even seen – and he helped write two – but what exactly is he basing that off of? Donald Trump read from a teleprompter for an hour straight without leading a “lock her up” chant and only inserted a few extra superlatives and suddenly he’s the oratorical love child of Reagan and Obama?  

Reading a prepared speech without spontaneously combusting is hardly an indication of presidential perfection. In fact, it was the minimum requirement for getting at least a B in my 5th grade oral presentation project.

Look at what else the Republicans are congratulating him for, like the standing ovation for a Navy SEAL’s widow. That was an incredibly touching and heartbreaking moment. But let’s not pretend that happened in a vacuum. Since Ryan Owen’s death during a raid in Yemen, Trump has blamed Obama, “the generals”, other Navy Seals, bad intelligence, and the Ghost of Christmas Past for his death. Less than 24 hours prior to his speech in an interview he deferred responsibility and said “they lost him” as if the Navy SEALs were responsible.

That is despicable behavior for a Commander in Chief of the military.

The ovation Mrs. Owens received was representative of how everyone in this country should treat families of the fallen, but don’t be mistaken in thinking that Louie Gohmert wasn’t voraciously clapping in part to help drown out Trump’s botching of that entire episode.

Style points aside, was there any substance to praise Trump on? I’m glad you asked. In setting up his agenda, he started by highlighting every Breitbart statistic on the Obama Administration and then proceeded to paint the world’s rosiest pic of his agenda. Are you ready for this?

  • He wants to increase and preserve world peace. He also wants to raise military spending by $54 billion and “start winning wars.”
  • He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  He also wants to keep the ban on preexisting conditions, keep subsidies, improve quality of care, lower costs, improve competition, expand marketplaces, let you keep your doctor, and lower pill costs.
  • He wants to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure package. He also wants massive tax breaks for “the middle class.”
  • He wants to welcome all legal immigrants of all kinds.  He also wants a merit based immigration system where we only admit high wage, high skill folks from countries we like.
  • He wants clean air, safe water, and environmental preservation.  He also says for every new regulation, you must repeal two.

He wants a juicy steak, but it must also be well done.  Certain things in life are just not possible.  

Republicans won’t pass a program that assists blind, wheelchair bound grandmothers get groceries without a pay-for, so does Trump really think they’ll drop $1 trillion AND cut the tax base further? How are you going to improve world peace while “winning wars” at the same time?

My brain is in more knots than a rope at Boy Scout camp trying to figure this one out.

And finally, let’s not forget… Trump boldly claimed that he was going to create “millions of new jobs” and bring dying industries “roaring back.” While I wish him every bit of luck in improving the lives of people in the forgotten regions of this country, that is an outrageously bold claim in a world where there are more solar energy jobs than coal mining jobs and robots (not trade) are permanently ending manufacturing jobs.

All during the campaign, half of the media would scream “Trump turned a corner!” each time he gave a speech without offending another country, and the half would mutter “you idiots, just wait a week.” The latter proved to be correct more times than not.

The Donald as president is no different. So what that he read from a teleprompter and said he supported a strong America. Every policy prescription was vague, if not contradictory, and most were dead on arrival even with Republican majorities in Congress.

This is still the same Trump who signed the Muslim ban, made a moral equivalency argument between the US and Russia, and called a major news network “FAKE NEWS” every chance he got. For those who think Trump became a new man yesterday, please come talk to me next time he tweets a conspiracy theory at 7 am.

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU

Picture credit: Cox Media
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How to be president 101: Political Capital

Somewhere in the White House sits a giant sheet of posterboard with “CAMPAIGN PROMISES” scribbled across the top.  Each morning I imagine Donald Trump wakes up, looks at it like it’s the queen’s mirror from Snow White and thinks, “which of you suckers can I check off today? Muslim ban. Check. The Wall. Check. Repeal Obamacare and expand the military. Check and check.”

As time goes on and this list dwindles, Trump will undoubtedly see himself as the pinnacle of a successful president.  He’ll tell his supporters that unlike a normal politician, he actually delivered on his promises.  But is that really a good thing for him?  Does turning every campaign gaffe into national policy make for a successful leader?

There is a reason that political leaders don’t come in to office and rush to complete their entire agenda in the first 100 days. Two words: political capital.

Political capital is the nerd equivalent of swag. It is the length of the leash, the slack in a bungee cord, the gravitational pull of public opinion.

During the honeymoon phase of an administration, a new president has a lot of political capital, but it can be a fleeting beast. Back in 2009, President Obama was riding high, he had an approval rating in the high 50’s and majorities in both halls of Congress.  He had campaigned on two big ideas – healthcare and immigration reform.  But armed with staff of political veterans – including David Axelrod, Jim Messina, and Pete Rouse – Obama knew that only enough capital existed for one of those two achievements.

Immigration reform had actually been a possibility under Bush, but never made it across the finish line, so the calculation was made that it could wait. Instead, Obama pushed for the Affordable Care Act. Republican opposition was fierce, and less than a year later, Obama had lost his House majority from which he would never recover.

In a recent interview on the podcast “Keepin’ It 1600” Obama talked about how many freshman House members went out on a limb for him, voted for the ACA, and then lost their seats. That is what political capital can do for you.

Trump should be wise to heed this lesson, though the path he is on will be like death by a thousand cuts rather than the scorched earth bombing Obama experienced.

The first few weeks of the Trump Administration have been marked by constant controversy to the point it feels like we have been under his leadership for years already – with the gray hair to prove it.  All during the transition, Republican leaders still stood by his side, defending him when they could and simply staying silent when he really went beyond the pale.

This type of honeymoon will last for a bit, but if Trump’s approval numbers continue to submarine, his staff continue to play fast and loose with ethics rules, and the economy doesn’t take off, lawmakers will flee him in droves.

You’re starting to see it already. This past weekend John McCain, who jumped right under the covers with Trump during the campaign despite being mocked by him, went to Germany and gave a speech absolutely obliterating Trump’s worldview. Members of the same party don’t do this unless something is serious amiss.

McCain’s foray into resistance won’t be the last. Trump currently is governing by executive power (yes, I know it is early) and doesn’t appear particularly engaged in Congress.  This is another way to deplete his political capital regardless of scandal.

One of Democrat’s biggest complaints about President Obama was that he never engaged Congress when pursuing new agenda items, a philosophy epitomized by his 2014 declaration that he can get things done with the use of “a pen and a phone.”  As a result, when he did come calling, they were less willing to engage and be helpful. Back in their districts, they were hearing disdain with his policies, but they felt powerless to shape them.  This feeling led to resentment less willingness to cooperate.

Trump ought to be a student of history and heed this lesson.  If he continues to try and push major – and unpopular – agenda items via Executive Order he will find himself on an island politically.

He will not only see his agenda flounder – caveat… if he has one – but he may see himself more vulnerable to investigations by Congress.

Right now, there is plenty that should warrant a congressional investigation of Trump’s activities. Remember, the Republicans held 8 separate investigations of Benghazi at a cost of over $7 million dollars all in order to expose Hillary Clinton’s emails and weaken her, so don’t underestimate how powerful they can be when they want to.

If Republicans in the Senate are the canaries, Republicans in the House are the miners. We’ve already seen a handful of Senators including Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, John McCain and others ask for investigations into the Russian / Trump contacts, but so far Jason “Profiles in Courage” Chaffetz has held his tongue.  

Chaffetz will continue to search for his spine as long as Trump’s political capital remains at acceptable levels. But, if he starts losing the support of Republicans and swing state Republicans start to appear vulnerable, Chaffetz will eventually find a reason to care about Russian interference.

Trump’s personality is part of the problem because everyone knows it isn’t in his nature to back down. But if his political capital were poker chips, he’d be in danger of going out just by anteing up. If I were advising Trump, I’d tell him to back off the immigration orders and ACA repeal and instead start floating options for infrastructure projects. He can do those things if he wants, but he should build good will with Democrats first instead of rallying their base to the point so that bipartisanship is impossible.

Obama lost all his political capital upending the healthcare system, what makes Trump think that his story will end any differently? In addition, Trump didn’t win the election because of hard-line Breitbart readers who want to end Islam. He won because blue-collar voters in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania couldn’t stand to hear “Fight Song” even more goddamn time.

Trump’s presidency may be listing, but it doesn’t have to sink.  If he focuses on rebuilding ties with Republicans in the Senate, proposes legislation that does not automatically trigger the gag reflex of 60% of the country, and stops attacking judges and writers, he could slowly rebuild his dwindling pile of chips.

Four years is a long time, and members of Congress have the power to make that time as productive or ineffective as they want for a president.  If Trump is popular, they’ll work with him, but Mar-a-Lago turns into a slush fund, protests continue to stall traffic in Lexington, and lawsuits start piling up, Trump will be reduced to nothing more than a another guy yelling at a television in a bathrobe.

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU

Picture credit: Zazzle.com

Sing it, Mr. President.

Every president has their moment.  For John F. Kennedy it came early, on the steps of the Capitol delivering his inaugural address. For George W. Bush it came through tragedy, finding him atop a smoldering pile of twisted steel in New York City with a bullhorn in his hands.

For Barack Obama, that moment found him in an arena in Charleston, South Carolina, surrounded by a solemn black clergy draped in purple robes when he paused, and we heard it:

“A-a-a-ma-a-a-zing-g-g grace-e-e….”

A preacher behind the president stood up so quickly you’d think he had sat on a tack. A voice from off camera shouted “Sing it, my president!” And this young man a thousand miles away felt a heat wave hit his cheeks as condensation slowly released itself from his eyes. 

As he’ll tell you himself, Barack Obama gave far too many national addresses following mass shootings to the point that he admitted he had run out of ways to describe tragedy.  So in that respect, another eulogy was nothing new. We had even seen the president become emotional before, when tears raced down his cheeks while he read the names of slain six year-olds after Newtown.

But there was something different about this day. Here was our nation’s first black president standing among a black congregation, addressing an audience of thousands of black mourners coping with a crime perpetrated by a young white man who told police he committed the act with malice and hate in the muscle where his heart should have been for those born of a different skin color.

This was a moment only Barack Obama could have embraced.

He spoke with a steady, deliberate conviction, reaching deep to bare his soul to the country as a man of god and thus delivering to us a brother, not a president. His freight train like momentum propelled him to reach poignant peaks and touch stoic valleys. His poise, posture, and buttery baritone demonstrated to all that never in a million years would hate triumph of the power of love, faith, and family.

As a white male born in the shadow of the nations capital, I won’t ever be able to understand what President Obama was feeling that morning as looked himself in the mirror while perfecting the dimple in his soft blue tie.  But each time I have watched that speech – a number I won’t reveal – I have felt my eyes well-up, my throat tighten, and my head slowly bob in approval.

President Obama knows the power of his words and how to harness the energy of his audience. When he leaves the teleprompter behind and starts hitting each line with the cadence of a drumline and John Williams-esque crescendo it’s impossible to look away. During the campaign I so often found myself glued to the screen as he giddily chided Donald Trump that my coworkers came to saying I’d “gone to church” when they’d notice a prolonged pause in the clicking from my keyboard.

Like a Marvel character who wakes up to find they have super-strength, Barack Obama has used his powers for good.

Symbols and moments matter.  It is why we fly flags at half-staff or why police wear a badge and not jeans. No flag will ever bring back a national hero, and no uniform will ever catch a robber, but they serve as public markers for respect, law, and order.  Much in this way, President Obama’s forty minute confessional that fateful day in Charleston served as an instrument of healing.  

Just imagine for a second the aftermath of Charleston without President Obama.

Imagine another mass shooting gone unanswered, but this time with the spectre of our nation’s dark racial history looming large.  Imagine another terse eulogy, one that didn’t end in the most powerful man in the nation opening himself up to mockery by singing off key on national television. Imagine another cookie-cutter press release mourning the loss of “fill in the blank” souls, instead of the symbol of freedom discussing the history of the oppressed.

If you think history would have arced the same, tell that to the audience members whose cheeks could have ended a drought that day, or to the preacher who, sitting with his eyes closed, repeated “preach it, my president” like a metronome throughout the address.

Living across a vast and diverse land we often don’t have the ability to meet our fellow citizen, to worship with them, to laugh or cry with them, or to share with them our inner most fears and dreams. Instead it is moments like this, where sitting at home or at the office we can each identify with the feelings of the only man in our country who speaks from behind that great seal.

That day, standing among mourning members of a shaken community, the president reminded us of the type of man he is.  He chose forgiveness and fortitude over vengeance and vitriol. He showed us the power of humility and grace.

He showed us why we’re going to miss him.

Thanks, Obama.

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU

Picture credit: AP

Beware the Red Line

Republican members of Congress love to cite President Obama’s unenforced “red line” over chemical weapons use in Syria as the moment the world went to hell.  They argue that the non-reaction to the discovery of mustard gas led to Bashar Al-Assad committing further atrocities, to Vladimir Putin seizing Crimea and meddling in Eastern European political processes, and to Saudi Arabia and Iran carrying out a proxy war in Yemen.

As with all geo-political messes, its hard to nail down causation, but it certainly isn’t out of the question that the United States’ hesitancy to act after threatening to may have incentivized further international transgressions.  For Republicans, the lesson to be learned is closer to home than they may think.

Just as Vladimir Putin may have viewed US inaction in Syria as an invitation to push further into Ukraine, President-elect Donald Trump has viewed Republican cowardice as a green light continue to bypass norms, rules, and common decency.  He has seen more red line inaction than a Metro rider during rush hour.

Barely a month after declaring his run for president, Trump insulted former POW John McCain and declared that he liked people “who weren’t captured.”  Republican leaders were aghast in incredulity for about 72 hours. Trump continued on.

In December, 2015, Trump called for a blanket ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and others said he was tearing at the moral fabric of the United States and making Betsy Ross roll over in her grave. Trump rolled on.

In July, 2016, Khizr Khan stood before the country on national tv, shared his grief like only a son-less father could with the world, and asked if Donald Trump would have represented his son, a muslim American soldier, as he would any other young man.  Trump responded by insulting Khan’s wife and their faith.  Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell sided with Khan. Trump marched on.

In October, 2016, a video surfaced of a 59 year-old Trump insinuating that he had committed sexual assault. Mike Pence cancelled his upcoming campaign schedule and many Republicans fantasized about a new ticket.  Trump called it locker it room talk and Republicans slinked back. Trump soldiered on.

After each of these events, a small chorus of Republican leaders stuck their necks out and proclaimed Trump’s actions to be wrong. He was called unacceptable, unpresidential, and unfit. But each time, as the news cycle returned to Hillary Clinton’s emails, those Republican leaders crawled back on board the Trump train.

The red line has been drawn and erased, re-drawn and re-erased. It is as durable a sand castle during high tide.

During the campaign the consequences to this cowardice were minimal. The news cycle moved quicker than a strobe light at an Avicii concert and real accountability was on par with a time-out session at an elementary school slumber party.

But now that Trump is about to become president and will have the awesome power of his signature, the consequences could be catastrophic. The daily unintelligent briefing that he shares with us via Twitter shows his willingness to train his ire on the press and political opponents, two groups that are supposed to be protected by our founding documents.

What happens when Trump calls for an investigation of a paper that reports on a scandal of his? Will Republican leaders stand up then?

What happens when Trump asks Attorney General Sessions to investigate Democratic governors or to ignore illegal voting restrictions? Will Republican leaders step forward in defense?

Republicans have made hay out of President Obama’s refusal to enforce an international threat and lamented the chaos that became of it. After nearly 18 months of standing up to Donald Trump, only to sit back down, they would be wise to adopt their own lesson.

Donald’s 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, the Donald gave to me, a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

On the second day of Christmas the Donald gave to me, two MAGA hats
And a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

On the third day of Christmas the Donald gave to me, three swing states,
Two MAGA hats, and a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

On the fourth day of Christmas the Donald gave to me,
Four interviews, three swing states, two MAGA hats and a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

On the fifth day of Christmas the Donald gave to me, five Chinese ties,
Four interviews, three swing states, two MAGA hats and a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

On the sixth day of Christmas the Donald gave to me, six Fox News anchors,
Five Chinese ties, four interviews, three swing states, two MAGA hats
And a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

On the seventh day of Christmas the Donald gave to me, seven golden airplanes,
Six Fox News anchors, five Chinese ties, four interviews, three swing states,
Two MAGA hats and a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

On the eighth day of Christmas the Donald gave to me, eight Russians hacking,
Seven golden airplanes, six Fox News anchors, five Chinese ties, four interviews,
Three swing states, two MAGA hats and a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

On the ninth day of Christmas the Donald gave to me, nine Clinton emails,
Eight Russians hacking, seven golden airplanes, six Fox News anchors, five Chinese ties,
Four interviews, three swing states, two MAGA hats and a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

On the tenth day of Christmas the Donald gave to me, ten Ivanka snapchats,
Nine Clinton emails, eight Russians hacking, seven golden airplanes, six Fox News anchors,
Five Chinese ties, four interviews, three swing states, two MAGA hats
And a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

On the eleventh day of Christmas the Donald gave to me, eleven golden toupees,
Ten Ivanka snapchats nine Clinton emails, eight Russians hacking, seven golden airplanes,
Six Fox News anchors, five Chinese ties, four interviews, three swing states,
Two MAGA hats and a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

On the twelfth day of Christmas the Donald gave to me, twelve Cabinet posts,
Eleven golden toupees, ten Ivanka snapchats nine Clinton emails, eight Russians hacking,
Seven golden airplanes, six Fox News anchors, five Chinese ties, four interviews,
Three swing states, two MAGA hats and a lie in a three a.m. tweet.

Donald’s Feckless Flock.

The confirmation this last week that the Russian government used an invisible hand to sway our elections presented a remarkable choice for Republican leaders, one that separated true patriots from political shills.

On one hand there are the true hacks like Kellyanne Conway who called the CIA report “laughable” because her personal short term gain is greater than the national interest.

There are patriots like John McCain and Lindsey Graham who put out a statement with Chuck Schumer calling for a full congressional investigation of who, what, when, why, and how the Russians meddled this past fall.  They recognize the terrifying precedent that it sets if the United States of America is willing to stand idly by and discount our own intelligence agencies while another government plays puppet master with out elecorate.

Then there is a third group: the cowards. This breed of Republican sides with neither the CIA nor Russia (hrmm, who to choose…) but instead choose to distract, distort, and deny.

The epitome of this true profile in courage is none other than Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He is a political novice, a moral lightweight, and a kitten in the age of lions.

Ryan would rather accept the short term benefit of power than acknowledge the awesome implications that another soverign power had its thumb on the scales of our electoral process.

Russia, the country we had a decades long Cold War against; the country who Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, and others were caught spying for; the country we fought proxy wars against in Afghanistan and now Syria.  That Russia just waged an active campaign to delegitimize the central institution of our representative democracy and some Republicans would rather stay silent to appease a man who doesn’t recognize that coating everything in gold is tacky than stand up for our Constitution.

In response to the Washington Post story detailing the Intelligence Community’s assessment of Russia’s actions, President-Elect Trump attacked not Russia, but the CIA. As Saturday Night Live so perfectly satirized (is it satire if it’s true?) the president-elect is more willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Vladimir Putin than our own intelligence officers.

In the face of that, Speaker Ryan–who also receives intelligence briefings–refused to call for an investigation and instead said that the issue “shouldn’t become polarized.” Good thing we have a brave and principled speaker who is willing to stand up to those pesky… Democrats.

What Ryan should not only know, but be saying out loud, is that American intelligence services do not serve a political party. The are unequivocally non-partisan and work solely in the interests of the United States of America. The CIA has an estimated workforce of over 20,000 people, of whom only a small handful are politically appointed. They do not tailor assessments to fit a agenda or confirm a narrative.  Their job is collect facts, analyze, asses, and report. Nothing more, nothing less.

That Trump would not only ignore their conclusion, but say that they are failure of an organization is devastating to their mission.

We all know that Trump does not live in a world based in reality. He lies the way most people breath. In response to this lying we’ve watched “leaders” like Ryan regress into a creature with his tail permanently tucked between his legs.

For example last week when Ryan was asked by Scott Pelley about Trump’s claim that “millions voted illegally” for Hillary Clinton, he simply said he “wasn’t focused on those things” and “didn’t have a way to know” if what Trump said was true. Ryan chose to continue to cast doubt on the solvency our democracy rather than say “Yeah, that was a ludicrous tweet.”

Where does this end?

People often ‘joked’ during the campaign that Trump represented a threat to our democracy – a claim more accurately described as hyperbole than legitimate during the campaign. But now, as Trump has dabbled in conspiracy theories about illegal voting and decided to side with the Kremlin over Langley, it doesn’t feel so hyperbolic.

In the weeks since the election we’ve seen Trump start by calling the President of Taiwan, then criticize China for stealing a drone, and then again criticize China for giving it back. He has remained silent as North Carolina Republicans stripped an incoming Democratic administration of power. He used his bully pulpit to temporarily crush the stock prices of companies who have rubbed him the wrong way.  

Any one of things would be a presidential scandal and Trump is still weeks away from the oath.

Now more than ever we need leaders who have spines made of lead and are able to separate the politically expedient from the democratically disastrous. Every leader will have their sheep and if he continues to silently go along, Paul Ryan is going to be first of many to be sheared.

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU

Picture credit: CNN

Why I am forever hopeful.

Last spring, at age 25, I boarded my first plane destined for overseas. With the exception of a couple trips to America’s hat up north, I had never left the country.  My parents believed that I needed to see my own country, and all the natural awesomeness it had to offer, because I went abroad to marvel at man-made castles and paintings.  

So in high school, we packed up the family van and spent 6 weeks over the course of two summers staying in motels, eating roadside PB&J’s and stopping at every national park and baseball park along the way.  I’ve spent hours watching prairie dogs pop up from underground mazes, stained my shirt with BBQ in Memphis after walking through the hotel room where Martin Luther King Jr spent his final hours.  I’ve seen the glory of a sunrise in Yellowstone and the despair of gutted apartments and desolate shopping centers that lined the freeway for miles leaving New Orleans, years after Katrina.

I’ve seen the greatness every corner of this country can offer. I’ve seen hope in a small town waitresses in Fargo who told us about her night classes and the ambition in a hotel manager who works at night to avoid the oppressive heat in Phoenix while making ends meet. I’ve seen the kindness in a mechanic who helped us with a flat tire somewhere between El Paso and nowhere and the humor in bikers in West Virginia who showed my brother that men in with beards and leather jackets aren’t automatically scary.

I also have seen where the worst of our country still survives.  I remember feeling confused and befuddled in neighborhoods littered with Confederate flags only miles from Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, home of the famous “Little Rock 9.” I remember asking and learning about these communities that were still clinging to a depressed vision of America, left behind by the spread of compassion and tolerance.

And for a long time these communities were just that, relegated to displaying Stars and Bars bumper stickers and putting “Don’t tread on me” signs in the rear window of their Silverados.  Republicans by default, they were forced to vote for Presidential candidates who ran on platforms of “compassionate conservatism” and paid little heed to the the true nationalist wishes of these communities.

And then 2016 descended down an escalator.

Donald Trump gave these people a voice they didn’t have before. He made it okay for Americans to group themselves by caste and align against those who they didn’t share in Bud Lights at the dive bar on Monday night. And worst of all, he allowed a small minority of this country to feel empowered to spread their antiquated way of life.

But I remain forever hopeful.  This vision won’t – and can’t – succeed.  There is too much good in this country, too much pride in our schools, our service members, our states, and our baseball teams.

Trump is a singular figure and without the bully pulpit of a fawning, ratings starved national media the incessant lying and hatred that has permeated our national dialogue will quiet. And without a singular ideology to defend, his echo chamber minions like Rudy Giuliani will no longer be given an outlet to lob grenades into civil discussion.

But it’s more than vanquishing the vitriol that Trump brought with him.  It’s about the remembering what has made America great already.  

Wealth is no longer a barrier to healthcare. Gender is no longer an obstacle to the legal definition of love.  Families will soon be united by by love, rather than divided by borders.  Ambitious students will no longer be burdened by loans, but boosted by learning.  Women and minorities can look at pictorials of our presidents and envision themselves seated in front of the flag.   

Standing in Philadelphia last night, President Obama stated that he still believed in hope because “in my visits to schools and factories, war theaters, national parks, in the letters written to me, in the tears you’ve shed over a lost loved one, I have seen again and again your goodness, and your strength, and your heart.”

I have my whole life to see the Coliseum. It has been there for 2000 years and I assume it’ll be there for 20 more. But in 2016, as our national fabric has been stress-tested repeatedly, I’m glad that I can share in Hillary and President Obama’s experience in having seen the goodness in every corner of our country. From Acadia to the Grand Canyon, there is not a country on earth that can match the awesomeness of the United State of America.

Choose hope.

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU