As in years past, Dartmouth alumni are playing major roles in presidential politics this cycle, with a number highlighting their political commitment in speaking spots at the party conventions of both the Republicans and the Democrats.
The Rev. Leah Daughtry ’84, pastor of the House of the Lord Church in Washington, D.C., is chief executive officer of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. She returns to the post in 2016 after organizing the nomination of then-senator Barack Obama at the 2008 Democratic convention.
On the first night in Philadelphia, amid open conflict between supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, Daughtry focused on the strength to be found in embracing all people, saying, “We know that our diversity is not our problem. It is our promise.”
“We have a moral obligation, grounded in our common values, to live not as islands unto ourselves, but in a beloved community with each other,” she said, concluding with her endorsement of Clinton.
“This week, we will take one huge step toward breaking the highest glass ceiling by nominating our candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who not only believes that ‘we the people’ means all the people, but that regardless of what you look like or where you come from, what you believe or who you love, we are always stronger together.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ’71, a Democrat, spoke on the last night of the Democratic convention. He said his experience running his family’s construction supply company taught him that a businessman must treat all of his employees like they matter. “Why? Because they do.”
“When we contracted with a vendor, we paid that vendor. Donald Trump, he stiffed hundreds of small businesses, from plumbers to painters, ruining their companies as he sought to enrich himself.”
Wolf said his company’s philosophy was that shared profits and paid family leave make a company stronger. “Hillary Clinton believes that also. That is why as president, Hillary Clinton will reward companies that share profits with employees, not just executives. Under her proposal, companies will get tax credits worth 50 percent of the profits they share with employees.”
Laura Ingraham ’85, a former editor of the Dartmouth Review and an influential conservative commentator, had a prime-time speaking slot on day three of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Greeted by chants of “Laura, Laura, Laura,” Ingraham said her dad, a World War II Navy veteran, and her mom, who worked waiting tables until she was 73, taught her about the dignity of work and the meaning of respect for our country.
Those values are in decline, she said. “Many in public office, we know this all too well, many in public office don’t enforce or respect the rule of law, isn’t that right, Mrs. Clinton?” she said to cheers. “Too many citizens don’t respect our laws, either. Many of our allies, they don’t respect us anymore.”
Calling 2016 the most important election since Ronald Reagan ran in 1980, Ingraham said, “Let us tonight go forth and reject the politics of division. Let’s defeat the Clinton machine. Let’s send the consultant, the pollster, the lobbyist packing! Let’s give the power back to the people, and let’s elect Donald Trump president of the United States!”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand ’88 of New York, an early supporter of the Clinton campaign, also spoke on the first night of the Democratic convention, praising the candidate as an advocate for women and fair wages.
“We are the only industrialized nation that does not have guaranteed workers’ paid family leave. Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth. Most parents work outside the home. Yet childcare can cost as much as college tuition,” Gillibrand said. “Families rely on women’s income but we still don’t have equal pay for equal work. This makes no sense, because we know that when families are strong, America is strong. Hillary Clinton gets it.”
Harmeet Dhillon ’89 delivered a Sikh prayer for the opening invocation on the second day of the Republican convention. Dhillon, vice chair of the California Republican Party, explained that it is customary for Sikh-Americans to cover their heads before singing their prayers.
After leading the delegates in the invocation with a song in the Punjabi language, Dhillon translated: “Please bless these delegates from all over this great nation you have created with the integrity to perform faithfully our sworn duty to nominate leaders to take America in the right direction. Please protect us from evil and create prosperity for all Americans. Please give us the courage to make the right choices, to make common cause with those with whom we may disagree, for the greater good of our nation.”
On the media front, Jake Tapper ’91 played a major role in CNN’s wall-to-wall coverage of both conventions on his own show The Lead, and on America’s Choice 2016 convention coverage.
TV icon Shonda Rhimes ’91, producer of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, and a longtime Clinton supporter, put together the five-minute bio video that played before Clinton came out to accept the Democratic nomination.