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A Summary of the 2020 Democratic National Convention

BY: Isabella Gattuso

The Democratic Party has set new precedencies by holding its quadrennial convention online this year. While still centered in Milwaukee as originally intended, speakers from all over the country appeared by video to nominate Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris. Even roll call was set behind state landmarks or picturesque landscapes and announced with the same zeal as if on the convention floor. 

As the convention was the first of its kind to be held through live stream, its delivery was widely criticized for its boring and erroneous layout. Author Marianne Williamson said, “it was like binge-watching a Marriott commercial”. Others were quick to notice speakers waiting awkwardly long periods of time or speaking before they were cued, leading to either incomprehensible sentences or an uncomfortable moment where they had to restart. In their defense, a live virtual event at this scale is bound to be uncomfortable. At the very least, no one got hurt or arrested, unlike in 2016, where 7 faced felony charges, and at least one woman was treated for burns trying to put out an American flag. 

As the Democratic National Convention (DNC) proceeded, four major themes emerged: unity, compassion, policy change, and opposition to Donald Trump. From the first day of the DNC, the Democratic Party made it clear that unity was necessary to progress. Citing a slogan often associated with Obama’s campaign in 2004, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America… there is the United States of America”, several figures took this as a call to stop the opposition between the parties and instead work towards a better America. 

Biden and Harris’ family life became evidence of their inherent caring natures. Harris’ family talked about how she was a driven and inspirational woman, and various people from Biden’s life (most notably an elevator operator, an Amtrak worker, and Dr. Jill Biden) touched upon the tragedies he’s faced which led to his empathetic nature. Biden lost his first wife Neilia and his daughter in a car accident, and his sons were injured. He was sworn in as a senator in his son’s hospital room. He later lost his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015. Jill Biden attributed this to his current desire to understand everyday people.

The DNC also had speakers with heart-breaking stories of being affected by administration policy, such as a child whose mom had been deported and the brothers of George Floyd. This kindness is especially important to demonstrate during the pandemic- in a time of extreme loss, a compassionate president is more palatable than one who had refused to acknowledge the seriousness of the virus until a friend had slipped into a coma (213,400 cases) and still blames the FDA and China for the five million cases in the United States. 

Not surprisingly, the DNC also took this time to highlight Joe Biden’s suggested policy changes. Topics covered racial equality, voter equality, climate change, immigration, the economy, childcare, and healthcare. Proposed policy changes would try to fight the effects Donald Trump has had on the topics covered.

Biden’s plans combine the Democratic Party’s agenda of the last ten years and the reversal of the policies of the current White House. That is acceptable to anybody who opposes Trump, but it begs the question of how would it convince anybody in-between ‘on-the-fence’ and ‘die-hard Trump supporter’ to vote for Biden if all he’s doing is challenging the current administration’s policy plans and not bringing anything new to the table.

Continuing on the topic of Donald Trump, a common tactic of the Democrats was to leverage Biden against Trump. Testaments of Biden’s compassion and attention seemed like a breath of fresh air next to Trump’s pattern lying and cheating for his personal gain. Perhaps the most unanticipated speech of the night,  former President Obama took his fifteen minutes to question Trump’s ability to take his office seriously and asked viewers to consider the consequences of his behavior. Where Biden has experience in office and in dealing with a pandemic, Trump lets Americans die. Seemingly, any doubts could be sated with the idea “it can’t get any worse with Biden”. 

While the DNC was unique in its execution,  it generally presented powerful ideas. The policy seems weak at the moment, but Democrats seem to believe that power lies in compassion, and they may not be wrong. At a time where a country has been battered by so many storms, it will be the moral aspect that will decide if their leader will lead them to shore or crash into the rocks.


*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.


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