Hillary Clinton delivered a terrific address at the Old State House in Springfield, Illinois—the site at which President Abraham Lincoln gave his “House Divided” speech. She spoke at length about racial justice, and then segued into a blistering attack on Donald Trump, whose relentless divisiveness, she convincingly argued, makes him unfit, unprepared, and unwilling to be an advocate for unity at a time when our nation most needs it.


The first part of Hillary’s speech was about police killings that disproportionately take the lives of Black and Latinx Americans, and about the recent violence again police in Dallas. As ever, she put a premium on the power of listening: “Embracing policies that promote justice for all people, and standing firm against any attempt to roll back the clock on the rights and opportunities that so many sacrificed so much to secure…starts with doing a better job of listening to each other.”

In a particularly powerful moment, she urged people to listen to those who say “Black Lives Matter”—an implicit criticism of those who willfully obfuscate its meaning with “all lives matter.”

“We remember Laquan McDonald, killed in Chicago, a year-and-a-half ago, and Sandra Bland, who grew up in Illinois, who died one year ago today. Time after time, no one is held accountable—and surely we can all agree that’s deeply wrong and needs to change. And yes, we do need to listen to those who say ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Too many Black Americans, especially young men, feel like their lives are disposable, and they worry every single day about what might happen. They have every reason to feel that way, and it’s absolutely unacceptable. Everyone in America, everyone, deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Surely that is something we can all unite behind.”


In the second half of the speech, Hillary pivoted to talking about Donald—and how we are watching the Party of Lincoln “become the Party of Trump. And that’s not just a huge loss for our democracy—it is a threat to it.” Donald, she noted, is running a campaign “as divisive as any we have seen in our lifetimes.”

“His campaign is as divisive as any we have seen in our lifetimes. It is built on stoking mistrust and pitting American against American. It’s there in everything he says and everything he promises to do as President. It’s there in how he wants to ban Muslims from coming to the United States, and toyed with creating a database to track Muslims in America. It’s there in the way he demeans women, in his promotion of an anti-Semitic image pushed by neo-Nazis, and in the months that he spent trying to discredit the citizenship and legitimacy of our first black President.”


Drawing gasps from the audience, Hillary also highlighted Donald’s utter lack of empathy by calling out how he even makes people’s violent deaths all about him.

“Last night in an interview, he said that he understands systemic bias against black people because—and I quote—‘even against me, the system is rigged’—unquote. He went on to say, ‘I can relate to it very much myself.’ Even this—the killing of people—is somehow all about him.”


The solutions to the problems facing us are complex. They are not strictly political solutions, and no single person, not even a president, can create the changes that need to happen quickly and resolutely.

But one single person, especially a president, can make things exponentially worse, given a big enough platform. Donald’s incendiary and divisive rhetoric, in combination with his monumental inability to view anything outside the prism of his own self-centeredness, is not merely unhelpful—it exacerbates already intractable problems.

He can’t lead, he won’t follow, and he refuses to get out of the way. So, come November, we’ll have to block him ourselves—and make way for a president who is willing to lead by listening.

(AP Photo)