6 Takeaways from the First Night of the Democratic National Convention

Bernie Sanders, 6 takeaways from night one of the DNC

The Democratic National Convention kicked off its four-night event on Monday. Though the pandemic has forced the convention to reinvent itself virtually, the party assembled to officially nominate Joe Biden as its candidate.

The convention did not go lightly on Donald Trump, chiding him for his relationship with Black Americans and his handling of the coronavirus.

Here are a few takeaways from the evening:

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DNC online

1. The Perils of Virtual Conventions

The Democratic party has historically used the convention to display its racial, ethnic, and gender diversity, as well as garner enthusiasm for the upcoming campaign. With prerecorded speeches and celebrities speaking to an empty room, however, it was difficult to lather up excitement, according to the Associated Press.

The convention began with stories of Americans who have been hurt by Trump’s policies. In between, Biden chimed in with a short panel on racial justice, as well as a video on his relationship with Amtrak workers.

Yet, so far, CNN reported that there have been no major technical glitches.

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John Kasich

2. Republicans against Trump

Four Republican leaders joined the chorus condemning Trump last night. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich pledged to vote for Biden in the upcoming election because the President has forsaken Republican principles.

“I’m a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country,” he said.

Three other Republicans—Meg Whitman, who ran for governor of California as a Republican in 2010; Susan Molinari, former Republican congresswoman from New York; and Christine Todd Whitman, former Republican governor of New Jersey and EPA Chief under George W. Bush—also emphasized their support. Todd Whitman stated that she came because “this isn’t about a Republican or Democrat. This is about a person.”

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Kristin Urquiza

3. Coronavirus Mismanagement

The convention took a heavy swipe at Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, as well. In a scathing speech, Kristin Urquiza blamed Trump for the death of her father who contracted the virus.

“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old,” she said. “His only pre-existing condition was trusting Trump, and for that he paid with his life.”

Urquiza put a face to the party’s contention that Trump mismanaged the crisis. Politicians also remembered other Americans who died as a result of the coronavirus, including a 5-year-old girl named Skyler.

“Our nation is in crisis, and in many ways, COVID is just a metaphor,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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Mayor Muriel Bowser

4. Racial Justice and Trump

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, millions protested for racial equality and demanded police reform. But to the Democrats, Trump’s response was sorely lacking. For a half an hour, the convention gave airtime to George Floyd’s brother who remembered his brother and named several other Black Americans killed at the hands of police officers.

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. specifically called out Trump for clearing Lafayette Square with tearing agents so that he could walk to a nearby church and be photographed with a Bible.

“While we were peacefully protesting, Donald Trump was plotting,” Bowser said. “I knew if he did this to DC, he would do it to your city or your town, and that’s when I said enough.”

Gwen Carr, mother to Eric Garner who was also murdered by a police officer this year, called on Biden and Democrats to keep the conversation going.

“When my son was murdered, there was a big uprising, but then it settled down,” she said. “We can’t let things settle down. We have to go to the politicians. We have to hold their feet to the fire. Otherwise, the big uprising is not going to mean a lot.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders also emphasized the gravity of Trump’s leadership: “Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Trump golfs.”

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Michelle Obama

5. Michelle Obama’s New Approach

Former First Lady Michelle Obama was given the largest speaking slot of the night—19 minutes—to set the tone for the convention.

Four years ago, she used the phrase, “When they go low, we go high,” to rally her base at the convention. But this year, she took a more direct and political route.

“Let’s be clear,” she said, “Going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted with viciousness and cruelty.”

She continued: “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove he can do the job but he is simply in over his head.”

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6. Donald Trump Remained Quiet through the Night

6. Donald Trump Remained Quiet through the Night

Uncharacteristically, Trump tweeted little during the convention. His Twitter feed exploded this morning, however, with character accusations against many of the speakers.

“Somebody please explain to @MichelleObama that Donald J. Trump would not be here, in the beautiful White House, if it weren’t for the job done by your husband, Barack Obama. Biden was merely an afterthought, a good reason for that very late & unenthusiastic endorsement. My administration and I built the greatest economy in history, of any country, turned it off, saved millions of lives, and now am building an even greater economy than it was before. Jobs are flowing, NASDAQ is already at a record high, the rest to follow. Sit back & watch!” he tweeted.

He additionally called out the Obama administration for poor handling of the H1N1 virus and Kasich for his job as governor of Ohio.

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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.

6 Takeaways from the First Night of the Democratic National Convention