Op-ed: The danger of the RNC's tone

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 6:51pm

One Trump adviser called for Clinton to be killed by a “firing squad,” C-list speakers angrily screamed at the American people that we are all in grave danger and chants of “Lock her up,” reminiscent of authoritarian regimes imprisoning political enemies, rang through the halls.  The vitriolic atmosphere of the last week sought to target our fears and inner demons. The Republican National Convention showed what four years of Trump would be: division and hatred.

We are not a “divided crime scene,” as Trump said, and our country is not on the verge of destruction. Trump attempted to frame his convention in terms reminiscent of Nixon in 1968 — that the world is in utter chaos, and he will restore “law and order.” However, Trump has failed in two ways. First, while violence floods our newsfeeds and terrorism seems to strike every week, this is not 1968. For context, our country is not in a troubling overseas war with 500,000 American soldiers on the ground like Vietnam, our crime rate is dramatically down and our racial discord at home does not compare to the riots, assassinations and violence of 1968. The fervor for a law and order candidate is not what it was. Furthermore, Nixon allowed for hope and a new future in his dark talk — Trump has dived into the darkness without providing a vision for a brighter future.

There’s another way though; we do not have to be filled with so much fear and hate. Robert F. Kennedy embodied this desire for togetherness in dark times. On the day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, RFK stood on the top of a truck bed and broke the news to an African-American community in Indianapolis. While the news created protests and violence across the country, the one place that remained peaceful was Indianapolis — largely in part to RFK’s plea.

He said:

        “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be Black.”

This is what we need in our country. The president is our ambassador to the world, and he or she can frame the hearts and minds of our country. Our kids are watching and the future of our country is taking their cues from our current leaders. Trump spews hatred and division because this is his strategy to win; we do not need more of that. We need a leader who won’t tell people to fear and divide, but beg people to come together.

Michelle Obama’s convention speech exemplified what we need. Not divisiveness but, “when crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other — no, we listen to each other. We lean on each other. Because we are always stronger together.” Clinton is not RFK, and there are numerous, reasonable issues with her potential presidency — but she’s what we’ve got. Trump’s divisive rhetoric alone will tug at the pluralism that defines the United States, and the hate and anger he brings will clout and hurt our country in innumerable ways, starting with our political environment and trickling down to how our children act. Take a step back and look at the big picture: Our founding principles of acceptance and understanding cannot stand for a candidate who rolls down the slippery slope of sanctioned hate.

CJ Mayer is an LSA sophomore