Someone gave me a one-star rating on my post evaluating Donald Trump’s acceptance speech. I don’t know if it was a Trump opponent who didn’t think I was sufficiently critical or a Trump supporter who didn’t think I was sufficiently worshipful.
It doesn’t matter because, for me, Trump’s was not the most impactful speech of the conventions so far. Nor was it Rudy Giuliani’s, Ted Cruz’s, Chris Christie’s, Michelle Obama’s, or even Bernie Sanders’s.
For me, the person who gave the speech of the conventions so far is Anastasia Somoza.
She said more in a 4 minute, 11 second speech than most politicians say in an hour. At a time when the Democratic National Convention was still roiling from the email leaks scandal, and even Bernie Sanders was booed earlier that day when he stressed party unity, Somoza helped bring the audience together. She used herself and her life experience to build a strong case in favor of Hillary Clinton. She also showed that Donald Trump, who mocked a disabled reporter, “doesn’t see me, doesn’t hear me, and definitely doesn’t speak for me.”
Her speech affected me on a personal level. My granddaughter has cerebral palsy. Listening to Anastasia Somoza’s speech gave me hope that one day my granddaughter will also be able to live to her fullest. Maybe she’ll speak in front of a large crowd and be cheered too. As a citizen, the speech made clear what the stakes are in this election. If Donald Trump is elected, will my granddaughter still be able to get therapy? Will she continue going to early childhood intervention programs? Can she go to school and college? What future will she have?
In both the Republican and Democratic conventions, we’ve been confronted with messages of fear and hope. While fear is powerful motivator, it isn’t effective by itself. We need hope to believe things can be better. We need to believe we can overcome our limitations to become better and stronger. This is the power of Anastasia Somoza’s speech. She showed in her words and herself that all people can live a better life — and which politicians are truly committed to let them live it.