The first night of the Democratic National Convention focused on how President Trump has handled the administration’s COVID-19 response and how the need to beat him in November transcends partisanship. The Democratic Party featured some of its top leaders, including former First Lady Michelle Obama; Sen. Bernie Sanders; Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer; Rep. Jim Clyburn; Rep. Gwen Moore; former Republican Governor of Ohio John Kasich; Sen. Doug Jones; and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) said while the Democratic National Convention is being held virtually, all its participants are gathered together in spirit and values. Rep. Moore spoke about how happy she is to see her friends Joe Biden and Kamala Harris nominated as the Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominees.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke about D.C.’s long history of peaceful protest, which President Trump betrayed by tear gassing peaceful protests earlier this summer. She said electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is a major step towards undoing the codified system of racism in the U.S.
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said 80% of African Americans in the U.S. can claim an ancestor who arrived in the U.S. as a slave. He noted progress is being made, citing that earlier this summer, the city of Charleston removed a statue of John C. Calhoun. He believes the U.S. needs a president who understands the meaning of community and wants to work towards a more just future. He argued Joe Biden will be this president and will always be an adopted son of South Carolina.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York was ground zero for COVID-19 in the U.S. He stated COVID-19 is a metaphor for the chaos across the country under President Trump, and COVID-19 was attacking the U.S. for months before the Trump administration acted. He believes the failure to control COVID-19 is in large part due to the divided state of the country. He stated the Trump administration’s incompetent response to COVID-19 has highlighted how much leadership matters. He argued Joe Biden can restore the soul of America, which is exactly what the country needs.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer praised Joe Biden and Barack Obama for saving many of the auto jobs in Michigan and saving the auto industry as a whole. She said these workers repaid the favor by manufacturing a lot of the protective gear used to combat COVID-19. Governor Whitmer called the federal COVID-19 response inept and said under a Biden administration, science, not politics, will dictate decisions.
The next set of speakers were Republicans who plan on crossing the aisle in November to vote for Joe Biden. These speakers included former New Jersey Governor Christine Whiteman, CEO of Quibi Meg Whitman, former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-NY), and former Ohio Governor John Kasich. The speakers said this election is not about party loyalty but about possessing the character to address the current moment. Governor Kasich said the stakes in this election are greater than any in recent memory, and past presidents, regardless of party, have worked to unite the country, while President Trump works to divide Americans.
Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) said growing up in the south meant growing up with great divisions. He argued Americans have more in common than the news would lead one to believe. He lauded Joe Biden as a man of character who can work to get things done.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) said more Americans are going to vote by mail than ever before. She added President Trump is threatening the ability of Americans to vote by mail through attempts to defund the U.S. Postal Service. She said this action puts the lives of seniors at risks, both by forcing them to go to the polls in person and jeopardizing the delivery of their prescription drugs.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said the right to vote is fundamental, and the post office is essential. She added unity is not about settling but about getting things done. She believes Americans need a president who can unite the country and get things done. She argued the Trump administration is selling out farmers and workers, and Joe Biden’s life work has been standing up for the working man.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) said the economy is not just about the stock market but also about small businesses and a sense of community. He said, unlike President Trump, Joe Biden understands this and respects America’s workers because he understands the dignity of work.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said the U.S. is facing the worst public health crisis in a hundred years and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. He thanked the Democratic voters who supported his campaign as having helped permanently shift the conversation. He argued President Trump has authoritarian impulses and has taken several actions that put American democracy at risk. The president’s negligence has exacerbated the economic and public health crisis. He said even before Trump’s horrible response to the pandemic, workers were struggling, but Joe Biden will fight to tackle the problems of the working class. He praised Joe Biden as being a true progressive of phenomenal character.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama said the story of America is a story of overcoming adversity. She stated the presidency is a tough job that requires intelligence, compassion, and grit. She argued that four years ago, a man ill-suited to the job was elected president, and the American people have paid the price. She noted over 150,000 people have died from COVID-19, and the economy is in shambles. She said the Trump administration has turned its back on U.S. allies, upending decades of policy. On top of the economic and public health crisis, the U.S. is also suffering a crisis of empathy. She noted rubber bullets are being shot at peaceful protestors, and children are being taken from their parents and put in cages. She offered a stark warning that things can get worse if a change is not made in this election. She encouraged voters to request their mail-in ballots as soon as possible because people are actively working to suppress this voting method. She said Joe Biden knows what it takes to rescue an economy and combat a pandemic, and just as important, he knows empathy, so it is critical people vote for Joe Biden as if their lives depended on it.