What Happened at the 2020 Democratic National Convention?


Marwa Chohan ’21

The 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) was certainly very unconventional this year. Held remotely from August 17-20, speakers were live-streamed in empty rooms and silence stood in the place of applause. Despite these changes, many viewers have been awaiting the convention amidst a global pandemic and an election that may change the course of it in our country. The DNC featured multiple highly anticipated speakers including Michelle and Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Vice-Presidential nominee Kamala Harris, and Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Key themes of the DNC included vast support for Biden and criticism of current President Trump. Speakers across all four nights reflected the inclusive culture of the Democratic party, from a healthcare worker with ASL to a multi-racial, female, VP nominee. In Biden’s speech, he emphasized his promise to work for all Americans, regardless of whether or not they voted for him. Throughout the four nights, speakers scrutinized Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and succeeding economic collapse. While the DNC was focused on the election and garnering more support for Biden, the party struck a delicate balance between holding a Democratic Convention and an Anti-Trump Convention. Come November, voters will be anxious to see how the messages from the last four nights have convinced supporters. “The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division,” Biden said. “Here and now, I give you my word: 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 of the darkness.”

“Here and now, I give you my word: 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 of the darkness.””

— Joe Biden

Day 1, 8/17:
John Dominquez-Trujillo ’21 and Penny Benak ’21

On Monday, August 17th, Democrats united in their support of Joe Biden, the first day of the Democratic National Convention. Day one of the convention included speeches from many prominent figures within the Party, such as Senator Amy Klobuchar, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Convention Chairman Bennie Thompson, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar began the evening with a short speech that called out President Trump’s negligence towards the pandemic and the basic needs of the American people. She also introduced the goal of the Democratic Party, unity of our nation, as well as voiced her support for Presidential nominee Joe Biden, saying he would be “President for all of America.” Later in the evening, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took the online stage with a powerful message to the American people. He began with a stark warning about the Trump administration, later stating that due to the current President, “authoritarianism has taken root in our country.” Later, he described the vision that both he and the Democratic Party want to achieve under the potential Biden administration. This view is based on the statement that we all “yearn for a nation based on the principles of justice, love, and compassion” and that “we must build a nation that is more equitable, more compassionate, and more inclusive.” Following the lead of others who spoke, Senator Bernie Sanders concludes his speech endorsing that “Joe Biden will end the hate and division Trump has created.”

“[We all] yearn for a nation based on the principles of justice, love, and compassion… that We must build a nation that is more equitable, more compassionate, and more inclusive.” ”

— Bernie Sanders

To wrap up the evening, the Former First Lady and advocate for poverty awareness and education, Michelle Obama spoke out against President Trump, saying he “is the wrong President for our country,” as she ended the night emphasizing empathy in an emotional speech. She urged citizens to vote for the Democratic Candidate Joe Biden, attesting to his good character and warning the public that “things can and they will [get worse] if we don’t make a change in this election.” To conclude her speech and the night, she called on the country to stand, in unity with the Democratic Party, “fierce against hatred” and shared her belief that we, as a nation, “still are compassionate, resilient, decent people whose fortunes are bound up with one another.”

Day 2, 8/18: Lilliana Esparza ’21 and Stella Hudson ’23
On Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention, the party sought to present itself as inclusive and unified in its support for Joe Biden. Big names like Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Former Secretary of State John Kerry, and Democratic Chairman Tom Perez made the case . Highlights of the evening included Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Former President Bill Clinton, and Dr. Jill Biden, who gave the night’s main address.

First, Ocasio-Cortez, in her brief but very powerful speech, gave insight into the social issues we face in our country today. Inadvertently, AOC created a real stir by seconding the nomination of Bernie Sanders for President, but she later clarified that her nomination of Bernie was just a formality, a DNC requirement for any primary candidate that received more than 300 delegates. Although her support until recently lay in the presidential campaign of Senator Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez nevertheless supports Biden and has recently been named co-chair of Biden’s climate panel in his campaign. In addition to seconding Sanders’ nomination, AOC highlighted some of our country’s biggest current problems such as “racial injustice, colonization, misogyny, and homophobia,” as well as attacking the 1% and the “explosive inequalities of wealth for the few at the expense of long-term stability for the many.”

Bill Clinton, the husband of the 2016 Democratic Candidate, Hillary Clinton, and Former President, used his time to slam Trump’s COVID-19 response. He backed his critique on Trump with powerful statistics. Clinton stated, “we have just 4 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s COVID cases.” Clinton also highlighted Trump’s disastrous economy, noting that “we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple.” Clinton wrapped his speech up in the same manner as most speakers, endorsing Joe Biden and advocating for him. Clinton said, “our choice is Joe Biden,” who will address issues concerning healthcare, the environment, and equality, as well as find a solution to the spread of this pandemic.

“There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it—how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going. But I’ve always understood why he did it.” ”

— Jill Biden

Dr. Jill Biden, potential first lady, spoke from a classroom, her former workplace as an English teacher. Dr. Biden spoke of the sadness of empty classrooms and students forced to be educated through a screen, attempting to invoke nostalgia in viewers. She argued that with her husband in office, schooling and other everyday activities will return to normal because Biden, unlike Trump, won’t neglect the current pandemic. Additionally, when talking about the tragic loss of her son, Jill preached family values while simultaneously emphasizing her husband’s work ethic. She championed Biden’s will to work even during hard times. Dr. Biden says, “There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it—how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going. But I’ve always understood why he did it.” One of the key points Jill Biden made was about his ability to make a broken family whole again. She said that you make a family whole “the same way you make a nation whole, with love and understanding, and with small acts of kindness, with bravery, with unwavering faith.” The day ended with Jill and Joe Bide together on stage, standing as a united front.

Day 3, 8/19: Ella Markman ’22 and Noah Vigil ’21

On night 3 of the Democratic National Convention, the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, the party nominated Kamala Harris as the first woman of color on a major party ticket. The party further highlighted and celebrated the role of women with speeches by many women including New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Hillary Clinton, and, of course, Harris herself. Former presidents, governors, and senators all had time slots to give speeches about the state of the party, and their ideas of what the party would look like if their candidate, Joe Biden, were elected into office.

Michelle Lujan Grisham’s speech was short but factual. She stated that New Mexicans have been doing well handling the coronavirus pandemic She explained her motto, “clean, green 21st century”, explaining how we expanded environmental protection, committed to a renewable energy future, and how she is a part of the fight for a greener country. Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton talked about how the United States needs to be united, while also throwing digs at the current president, Donald Trump. She shone a very positive light on the democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates by stating how strong, relentless, and caring this power team will be if elected.

Another notable speaker was former president, Barack Obama. Not only was his professional and strong way of speaking easy to listen to and engaging, but he also seemed to grab the attention of the people he was speaking to. He started out by explaining the ideals of this country and his speech took off from there. “Tonight, I am asking you to believe in Joe and Kamala’s ability to lead this country out of dark times and build it back better,” he said. “Embrace your own responsibility as citizens — to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure Because that’s what’s at stake right now. Our democracy.”

Vice presidential candidate, senator Kamala Harris’ speech opened with the touching regaling of how her parents met and fell in love in the most American way possible: Protesting during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Besides this, many people were excitedly awaiting her speech. As a child of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, Harris has faced adversity from her parents’ divorce to struggling with her racial identity. She received a political science degree from Howard University and a bachelor’s in law at UC Hastings College of Law. Before becoming a senator, she was a prosecutor in the courtroom and fought for: immigration reforms, women’s rights, raising of the minimum wage, and same-sex marriage. Among the most important topics, she addressed in her speech was the struggles that parents and teachers are facing during this difficult time. She also discussed racial inequalities, particularly during the pandemic, stating “there is no vaccine for racism.” Harris and Biden’s main vision is creating America IntoAmericainto a large community. Harris stated, “this is a promise worth fighting for”. Overall, this night was filled with empowered female speakers who compelled the viewer to consider voting for Biden as the next president.

“There is no vaccine for Racism””

— Kamala Harris


Day 4, 8/20: Julia Ross ’21

With the Democratic National Convention coming to an end, the most essential member of the party in current times, Presidential Nominee Joe Biden, gave a heartfelt speech to woo citizens from both the left and the right. Biden spoke on the harm the current president has brought on America, and how he, if elected, will bring unity to a broken nation. In addition to Biden speaking, prominent leaders and former political opponents of Biden shared strong words of support for the candidate, as well as warnings about the future in Trump’s America.

Some of Biden’s most prominent supporters advocated for him, explaining the need to get Trump out of office. His former political opponents turned supporters friends, Andrew Yang said, “Recovery is only possible if we make a change in leadership.” That change, he explained, should be Biden. Pete Buttigieg showed off his wedding ring and talked about how he was allowed to marry his husband in part because of Biden’s long-lasting support for marriage equality. Cory Booker spoke about making “a stand together” to defeat Trump. Meanwhile, other supporters, including a 13-year-old boy, who like Biden many years ago, has a stutter, talked about the positive impact that Biden has made on their lives. 

In a speech that Fox News anchor Chris Wallace described as, “enormously effective,” Biden “blew a hole in Trump’s characterization of him.” For someone who is not always on top of his game, according to Trump, Biden was not only coherent, but also emotional, passionate, and charismatic in his deliverance. He began his speech with a bold quote from Ella Baker, a major leader in the civil rights movement who’s message represented equality for women and minorities. He then passionately said that, as president, he will bring about unity in a divided nation and equality for people of all races, sexual orientations, socioeconomic status, and religion. He said that, unlike Trump who “fans the flames of hate and division,” he will work towards bringing together all people, emphasizing that in this election, the future of what America stands for is on the ballot. 

Soon after the start of the speech, Biden began his critique on Trump, particularly regarding how he has handled Covid-19. Biden said, “It didn’t have to be this bad…the president is waiting for a miracle. Well, I have news for you, no miracle is coming.” He pointed out that his first action as president would be to get coronavirus under control. As someone who has experienced the loss of his wife and two children, Biden does not want anyone to have to go through the unnecessary loss of their family members because of this disease. He ended the speech full of hope for the future and impassioned. ” The convention ended with Vice Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris joining Biden on the stage as they watched fireworks rain over the crowd, his words ringing in the national ear. “