PHILADELPHIA—It was a hot and stormy week at the Democratic convention, one that began with discord and ended with invocations of togetherness. “People are anxious and looking for reassurance,” Hillary Clinton, the newly anointed Democratic nominee, told a cheering convention crowd—“looking for steady leadership.”
This was the theme of speaker after speaker at the Democratic convention: steadiness, calm, shelter from the storm. The party’s stars took the stage one by one, railing against divisiveness and doomsaying and fear. They painted a picture of a new American normal: optimistic, stable, square, patriotic. A silent majority of tolerant, diverse, cosmopolitan people, hopeful and unthreatened by suspicion or difference. A transgender woman, an illegal immigrant, a Muslim veteran’s father: This, the convention asserted, is the face of a country that has been through the discombobulating wringer of social and demographic change, and come out the other side smiling and holding hands.
“America is already great,” they insisted, again and again and again.
The invocations of patriotism were so ringing and traditional that many Republicans—whose own convention last week was chaotic and weird—were envious. Yet the voices of disunity were never far from the surface.
Throughout Clinton’s speech, scattered hecklers insistently interrupted, prompting drown-them-out chants of “Hill-a-ry!” and “U-S-A!” The dissenters wore bright-yellow “Enough is Enough” T-shirts; some of them walked out, though most stayed in the hall. Earlier in the night, as Jennifer Granholm, the governor of Michigan, pleaded, “Some people are angry—I get that—but the answer is not to tear our country down,” a man in a yellow shirt walked silently down the aisle of the arena with a handmade sign held aloft: “BERN IT DOWN.”