By Eamonn Burke
The Democratic National Convention kicked off it’s virtual event last night, starting with speeches by prominent politicians including Bernie Sanders, John Kasich, Andrew Cuomo, and a keynote by Michelle Obama.
There were also powerful words delivered by George Floyd’s brother, Philonese Floyd, and Kristin Urquiza, who lost her father to Covid-19. “My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life,” she scathed, adding that her vote for Joe Biden would be in his honor. Mr. Floyd called for a moment of silence and for remembrance of those who have died from racial injustice to continue far beyond the night.
The politicians also denounced Trump and backed Biden strongly. Cuomo hailed Biden as having all of the characteristics of a true leader: a unifier, a builder, “as good as our people,” he said. “That man is Joe Biden.”
Kasich, a former Republican Governor of Ohio, acknowledged that he disagrees with Biden on some topics, but “that’s OK because that’s America.” Ultimately, he recognized that Joe Biden “can bring us together to help us find that better way.”
Senator Bernie Sanders, the former rival of Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination, made a strong appeal to emotion, highlighting the incredibly high stakes in this election and the importance of defeating President Donald Trump. “The future of our planet is at stake” he pleaded. “My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine.”
Lastly, Michelle Obama ended the night with a strong moral case against President Trump. She painted the current government as being one of “chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy,” and called Trump “the wrong president for our country.”
“If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it,” said the former First Lady. Trump lashed back at Obama, tweeting that he would not be in the White House if not for the work of her husband, and calling the Obama-Biden administration “the most corrupt in history.”
As far as logistics of the convention, the lack of a traditional setting was noticeable, and many of the speeches were pre recorded. Trump slammed Michelle Obama for this, denouncing her for having the wrong COVID-19 numbers. Democrats has planned to convene in Milwaukee, but later decided to move entirely online. Actress Eva Longoria was brought on as the host of the show to create a more personable atmosphere. Video clips, montages, and performances were also infused into the event.
The second night of the DNC featured a role call which officially nominated Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential ticket. It also featured more speeches from past politicians on both sides, such as former President Bill Clinton (D) and former Secretary of State Colin Powell (R). There were new faces as well, like U.S Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D). The night ended with Joe’s wife Jill speaking. The event was hosted by actress Tracee Ellis Ross.
Clinton focused on the economy in his speech, highlighting the U.S as “the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple” despite Trump claiming how well we are doing as a country. Ocasio-Cortez used her speech to second the nomination of Bernie Sanders, a formality for a candidate over a threshold of 300 delegates.
Joe Biden and his family made a virtual appearance from a classroom to accept the nomination, and he appeared later on after his wife’s speech.
In her speech, Jill Biden made a case for why her husband had the capacity and experience to understand the hardships that American families are going through in this crisis. She mentioned the death of their son, Beau, from cancer, and how he was able to help her through that time. The compliments went both ways, as Joe called her “so damn tough and loyal.” Dr. Biden assured viewers that “if we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he did for ours.”
On night three of the DNC, Kamala Harris was historically nominated as the first black and Asian woman to feature on a major presidential ticket. In her speech, Harris told her story of being an immigrant – the daughter of India and Jamaican immigrants – and used it to empathize with so many in a similar situation. She then went after Trump, delving into his moral and ethical flaws: “I know a predator when I see one” she assured. She finished off by speaking about inequities, especially racial ones. “There is no vaccine for racism” she said in a her call to action. “We’ve gotta do the work.”
Later in the night Hillary Clinton spoke, delivering a somber warning against repeating the mistakes made in 2016, when she lost to Donald Trump: “this can’t be another ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ election.” She pleaded for viewers to vote, as was a main theme in throughout the DNC. Lastly, she praised the record breaking amount of women continuing to appear in government, including Senator Harris, but acknowledged the work still to be done.
President Obama’s speech brought something considerably rare for a former president to do: he attacked President Trump. He labeled Trump as blatantly inadequate for the job of president: “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t, and the consequences of that failure are severe.”
The night also featured a performance by Billie Eilish of her new unreleased song “My Future.” It was followed by a message about the importance of voting.
The fourth and final night officially nominated Joe Biden as the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate. In his speech, he covered his policy plans from the coronavirus to guns to Medicare, while also addressing the economic recession caused by the pandemic as well as the racial reckoning going on in the country as a result of inequalities. He also spoke of the and Harris’ personal stories, and how they informed them to be ready for the job. The speech drew acclaim from both parties.
“Here and now I give you my word,” said Biden. “If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness.”