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What went down at the 2020 Democratic National Convention?

By Yair Oded

Aug 28, 2020

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Over the past two weeks, the eyes of the world turned once again to the presidential election drama unfurling in the US, as the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and Republican National Convention (RNC) were held. Here’s what you might have missed from the DNC.

The Democratic National Convention goes virtual

Originally scheduled to take place at an arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the DNC took place mostly online, with only former Vice President Joe Biden, now the Democratic nominee for president, and Senator Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, delivering speeches from a convention centre in Wilmington, Delaware. The few journalists in attendance were distanced from one another and asked to wear masks due to the threat of COVID-19.

Speeches delivered by top Democrats

The four-night convention featured speeches by some of the most prominent Democrats in the country, including the Obamas and the Clintons. Joe Biden’s acceptance speech was regarded by many as solid and compelling. It was evident that he endeavoured to inspire inclusiveness and unity rather than division, and appealed to the sensibilities of moderate voters.

He enumerated the grievances brought on the American people by the current occupant of the White House, assailed his botched response to the COVID-19 crisis, and vowed to fight for racial, environmental, and economic justice. Despite Biden’s record of gaffe-laced appearances over the past year, which made many question the state of his physical and mental condition, the former vice president delivered a smooth, stutter-free speech and appeared remarkably ‘together’.

Biden’s pick for VP, Senator Kamala Harris of California, made history by being the first African American and Indian American female nominated for the vice presidency. “Years from now, this moment will have passed. And our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high? They will ask us: What was it like? And we will tell them. We will tell them not just how we felt. We will tell them what we did,” the Senator said in her acceptance speech.

Unsurprisingly, Michelle Obama’s speech was credited with being the highlight of the convention. The former first lady took aim at the president in a frank and piercing manner: “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”

An effective yet vague appeal to the public

Many pundits have regarded the DNC a success and stated that it presented the Democratic establishment in a positive light. Some have pointed out the fact that the Biden ticket put forth a considerably progressive platform on some issues, including gun control, child care and, to a certain extent—climate change.

On other issues such as healthcare, the party struck an ambiguous tone that left uncertainty about the future. This is particularly worrisome seeing as the country is struggling to survive a global pandemic and many millions of Americans are being stripped from their health insurance.

Furthermore, the convention was headlined mostly by people representing an era and an agenda that do not necessarily resonate with younger voters. Many mainstream Democrats such as Biden and Harris and even the Obamas stand for values and worldviews that do not reflect those of the new generation. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the party’s most prominent representative of left-leaning young voters, was allotted a mere 90-second cameo.

It is fair to say that the convention had put forth a string of Hollywood-style platitudes and hopeful pledges of change, which certainly befits the American way, but gave little substance to chew on for those interested in a more concrete vision of what a Biden presidency would entail.