By Brennan Keifer
Elm Staff Writer
With Election Day less than three months away, it may be time to start thinking about who you will cast your presidential ballot for. However, between updates concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and the beginning of a new semester, staying up to date with politics might have been put on your back burner.
If that’s the case, then here is a quick overview of what you may have missed from the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
The Democratic National Convention began on Monday, Aug. 17 and ended on Thursday, Aug. 20. Due to the current pandemic, nearly the entire convention was held virtually, with only a few in-person events. Instead, pre-recorded speeches were livestreamed, and meetings, addresses and panels were aired throughout the week.
As stated by the DNC website, the convention is an “opportunity to show the American people what [the Democrats] stand for as a party.” As such, many key issues, such as racial inequality, LGBTQ+ rights, affordable child and health care, gun control, and immigration were discussed, which the Democratic Party hope to address should they claim the White House in the upcoming election.
For example, the issue of gun control has been a growing topic of debate throughout the political sphere in recent years. Speaking on this matter at the DNC was former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Gifford, who survived a gunshot wound to the head in 2011. In her pre-taped statement, Gifford recounted her recovery process and expressed her concerns, stating that “We are at a crossroads; we can let the shootings continue, or we can act…we can be on the right side of history.” Gifford went on to encourage Americans to “speak out [against gun violence] even when you have to fight to find the words.”
Aside from addressing key issues, the main event of the DNC was to formally nominate the Democratic Party’s running presidential candidate Joe Biden, who officially accepted the Democratic bid to run for office.
Alongside Biden, and running for vice presidency, is Kamala Harris, the first woman of color on a majority party ticket. The nominated duo hopes to appeal to people of all ages and on both sides of the political spectrum. For example, former Republican Governor of Ohio John Kasich promises voters that Biden will not turn “sharp left;” that his policies will not be too radical or far leaning on the left side of the political spectrum. Meanwhile, Harris endeavors to take more progressive actions during her vice presidency, a move appealing primarily to younger voters.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was not just Democrats who spoke in favor of Joe Biden. The previously mentioned Republican Gabby Gifford endorsed Biden stating that “we must elect Joe Biden…he was there for me; he will be there for you.” Among other Republicans there was former Governor of Ohio John Kasich, former Senator David Durenberger, former Senator John Warner, and Cindy McCain, widow of late United States Senator John McCain. In a tribute video, Cindy McCain recalls the close friendship once shared between Biden and her late husband, stating that their cross-party comradery was “a style of legislating and leadership that you don’t find much anymore.”
With some Republican supporters there also came some Democratic critics such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Although backing Biden over Trump, Ocasio-Cortez supported Senator Bernie Sanders as her nominee for the presidential election instead of Joe Biden.
Other speakers included Michelle Obama, whose virtual speech foretold, “if you think things cannot possibly get any worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.” Her concerned approach in addressing the lack of voting enthusiasm and the troubles of our “deeply divided” nation gained wide recognition, particularly on her ability to connect with those watching at home. Vox reporter Constance Grady praised Michelle Obama for speaking “conversationally to the camera, pitching her voice to individual viewers watching at home rather than to an arena that was not there.” Grady continues that she “radiated sincerity” and managed to make a personal connection to the audience despite not being able to see them in person.
Former President Barack Obama also made an appearance openly criticizing President Donald Trump. While receiving some backlash for breaking the custom of not criticizing a presidential successor by name, Obama made a point to draw attention to the issues of gun violence, climate change, and immigration—issues he believes Trump hasn’t properly addressed.
The COVID-19 pandemic also became a topic of discussion during the DNC. On his website, Joe Biden promises to lead throughout the pandemic, while also mentioning plans to safely reopen the country, stabilize the economy, and help support families affected by the pandemic. Biden also promises to double the number of testing sites, to “ramp up” mask production, and to provide clear, “evidence-based” national guidance backed by health care experts and researchers.
With the close of both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, it’s time for the American public to begin thinking about who they will be voting for. During her address, Michelle Obama spoke of her worries about the lack of voter participation, stating that during the 2016 election “too many people chose to believe their votes didn’t matter.”
No matter who you decide to support, Republicans and Democrats alike urge all of us to use our voice, cast our ballot, and, in the words of Gabby Gifford, “vote, vote, vote!”
Featured Photo caption: The 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) highlighted key issues including healthcare, immigration, and racial inequality, while also stressing the importance of voting. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.