The Democratic National Convention (DNC) runs from August 17th – August 20th. This article is part of a broader, MJPS Online series providing daily analysis of the DNC as it happens. Click here for the other components of the series.
Democratic National Convention, Day Four Recap
The 2020 Democratic National Convention came to a close on Thursday night, under the theme of “America’s Promise.”
The night started off with video testimonies of politicians and activists, where they all answered the question, “Where do you want to be this time next year?”
Then, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who was invited to speak after expressing disappointment at being left off the original schedule, personally vouched for the Biden-Harris ticket. He said that he got to know them on the campaign trail, and that they “will fight for us and our families every single day.”
Following an introduction by emcee Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the night moved into a short segment dedicated to religion. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, who knows Biden, described him as “a man of faith and conscience” and told stories about seeing Biden’s faith first-hand.
Then, mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke about the current racial justice movement in the country, and about the late John Lewis’ legacy. She ended with a call to action, saying “Congressman Lewis would not be silenced. And neither can we. We cannot wait for some other time, some other place, some other heroes. We must be the heroes of our generation, because we, too, are America.” This was followed by a video tribute to Lewis, that included interviews with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Elijah Cummings, who passed away last October. Historian Jon Meacham also delivered remarks.
Following Lewis’ life mission, the convention moved to a discussion about voting rights. First, Rep. Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, urged all Americans to vote this November, saying that “voting is sacred.” She also highlighted the contribution of Native Americans in the history of the United States, and the importance of voting, claiming that how everyone votes “will outlast us.” Alex Padilla, Secretary of State of California and Jocelyn Benson, Secretary of State of Michigan, both talked about different ways to vote this November.
Sen. Cory Booker, who also ran for the nomination, spoke about Trump’s disastrous economic policies and told a personal story about his grandfather’s economic hardships. This was followed by a pre-recorded panel discussion between Biden and various union members.
Dr. Vivek Murphy, who was Surgeon General under the Obama administration and has advised the Biden campaign on COVID-19 policies, praised the nominee’s ability to listen to experts and his experience managing the Ebola crisis when he was vice-president. Sen. Tammy Baldwin also spoke in favor of Biden, praising his efforts in making healthcare more affordable. Baldwin shared a personal story about her difficulties accessing healthcare due to a pre-existing condition.
To discuss Biden’s ability to serve as commander-in-chief, the convention aired a short video about the Bidens’ work with military families. Then, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Purple Heart recipient for her service in Iraq, called Trump the “coward-in-chief” and said Biden is “the kind of leader our service members deserve.”
This was followed by a video homage to Beau Biden, the nominee’s son who passed away in 2015 after a battle with brain cancer.
For the third time that night, a rival of Biden during the primaries spoke, this time Pete Buttigieg. Buttigieg, who Biden has compared to Beau in the past, praised Biden’s early support for same-sex marriage as he was speaking from the venue where he got married. This was followed by a short pre-recorded conversation between seven of Biden’s 2020 rivals (Booker, Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Yang). One last former rival, Michael Bloomberg, then addressed the convention to make the case of the Biden-Harris ticket.
DNC speakers, throughout the week, often emphasized Biden’s empathy. This was once again on display when Brayden Harrington, a 13 year-old boy who stutters, discussed how Biden, who also stutters, took time to sit down with him and help him. He thanked Biden, saying that he had made him “more confident about something that’s bothered me my whole life.”
It was finally time for the nominee to deliver his acceptance speech, introduced by his granddaughters and his two living children, Hunter and Ashley.
Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, he promised to be a president for all Americans. He explained that the country was facing four historical crises – “The worst pandemic in over 100 years. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The most compelling call for racial justice since the ’60s. And the undeniable realities and accelerating threats of climate change” – and discussed the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the country. Biden, who has lost two children and his first wife, took a moment to give advice to those grieving. He called out Trump, saying that he “takes no responsibility, refuses to lead, blames others, cozies up to dictators, and fans the flames of hate and division.” He ended his address with a quote from Irish poet Seamus Heaney, saying that this was the moment “to make hope and history rhyme.”
Biden was then joined on his stage by his wife Jill, Kamala Harris, and her husband Doug. They walked outside the convention centre, where a drive-in viewing was organized, and the 2020 DNC concluded with fireworks, instead of the traditional balloon drop.
These are unprecedented times, and the convention was a direct reflection of it. With a short turnaround, the Biden campaign was able to organize a tightly run and entertaining convention. The bar is high for the Republican National Convention, which will be held from August 24th to 27th.
Edited by Asher Laws.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and they do not reflect the position of the McGill Journal of Political Studies or the Political Science Students’ Association.