This is the first part of two-part essay on American Presidential election. In part I, we review the 2020 Democratic National Convention providing the readers a quick grasp of the convention proceeding in chronological order and topical interest. The author’s personal observation, general impression and post convention comments will be given at the end. Part II will be on 2020 RNC.
The U.S. Democratic Party held its 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in a unique way from August 17–20, 2020 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Republican National Convention would follow from August 24-27 in Charlotte, South Carolina. Both conventions would be very different from tradition, mostly in virtual form due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This 2020 DNC was essentially a condensed proceeding designed for evening TV show of two hours from Monday to Thursday. Most presentations were in pre-recorded video format or talking to a camera. Despite of this virtual format with no cheering crowds, applauses or prompt remarks between speakers and audience, there were a lot of good speeches. The usual party caucus and committee meetings were scheduled during the day and the convention program were condensed to about 10 hours which were streamed from the DNC website and television or cable broadcast by several media corporations. Of course, the usual real time discussion and comments offered by TV anchors and commentators in previous conventions would be absent this year.
In this column, we shall give a brief summary of the DNC program schedule so the readers can get a grasp of what is going on in the overall proceeding of this virtual convention. There were some interesting entertainment and promotional videos inclued in the convention program, however, they will not commented here. (It is not possible to cover all activities in a short paper) We shall begin with a snap view of the four-day DNC official schedule then proceed to some post convention analysis, discussion and comments at the end. First, the following caucuses and committee meetings were held from 12 noon to 7 PM every day: Labor, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), Black, Interfaith Council, Ethnic Council, Youth and Women (Day 1), Rural, Seniors, LBGTQ, Campaign Academy, Muslim, Small Business, Disability, Jewish, Youth, Native Americans, Environment and Climate and Veterans and Military Families (Day 2), Hispanic, Campaign Academy, Labor, AAPI, Black, Interfaith Council, Ethnic Council, Women, Bold Leadership (Women Governors) (Day 3) and Campaign Academy, Small Business, Native American, (Day 4)
The nature of the above named caucus and committee meetings are self explanatory by their names. They also represent the major part of the political concern of the Democratic Party members. The four-day DNC evening program consists of the following speakers: Senators Amy Klobachar (MINN), Catherine Cortez Mastodon (NV), Doug Jones (AL) and Bernie Sanders ( VT), Govenor Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Gretchen Whitmer (MI), and Representatives Jim Clyburn (SC, Whip) and Gwen Moore (WI), Convention Chatman, Bennie Thompson, and former First Lady, Michelle Obama. (Day 1) In contrast to 2016, Sanders was very generous with his support to Biden than he did to Clinton. (“Biden, very decent man, most progressive President since FDR) Michelle’s speech was well delivered stressing the importance of voting. Her speech was well received as praised by several commentators. There were plenty of attacks on President Trump, especially on Trump’s opposition to vote by mail by reducing funding to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). One must note that the former Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich’s endorsement of Biden on the first day was significant even though it is not considered as a keynote speech.
The Day 2 speakers include former Acting US Attorney General Sally Yates, Senators Chuck Schumer (NY) and Chris Coons (Del), former Secretary of State John Kerry(Mass), Representatives Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (NY-14) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del), former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jim Carter and Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Democratic Party Chairman, Tom Perez, and Dr. Jill Biden. Joe Biden was nominated on this day. The keynote was delivered by seventeen party leaders in a split screen, some speaking from home. The progressive star from New York Cortez, President Clinton and Jill Biden probably received the most attention. Jill made a passionate and personal speech for her husband saying that Joe knows how to make a broken country whole. Bill Clinton contrasted Trump’s spending a lot of time watching TV and zapping people to Biden’s help to bring us back from recession and he could do it again. Cortez was obviously a showing for the left or far left but the convention had to stay center. Again, it was significant that former Secretary of State Colin Powell gave Joe Biden his endorsement as a Republican on the second day.
The third day had the following speakers: Senator Elizabeth Warren (Mass), Congress woman Nancy Pelosi (CA, House Speaker), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Governors Tony Evers (MI) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM), former Representative Gabrielle Giffords (AZ), Senator Kamala Harris (CA) and Barack Obama This was almost a lady’s night except President Obama held the final spotlight with a good speech pleading that we need to save our endangered democracy from Trump. Harris made her acceptance speech in a very calm manner, telling her personal story, supporting Biden and slashing Trump. Harris made the statement, “I have been guided by the people.” The struggle of once-disabled Rep. Giffords in gaining back ability to speak was sure to touch the people for gun control. Warren was more focused, besides partisan attack, she wanted to treat caregiving like any other infrastructure.
The 4th day had the following speakers: Andrew Yang, Introduced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, American actress, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Jon Meacham, American author, Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), State Secretary of State Alex Padilla (CA) and Jocelyn Benson (MI), Sen. Cory Booker (NJ), former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (WI), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL), A video tribute to Biden’s late son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Biden’s daughter and son, Ashley Biden and Hunter Biden, and Joe Biden. Biden’s acceptance speech may be his best speech ever delivered, smooth and calm. The video (United We Stand) presented and endorsed Biden’s candidacy from his seven Democratic primary opponents showed that the Democrats are truly United behind Biden against Trump.
There was a lot of information from four nights of speeches. The above list could help the readers to search any individual speech on line, typically on the speakers’ own websites. Here, the author would like to discuss his personal observations and overall impressions of the DNC and make some post convention comments, which may be different from those bi-partisan views you likely hear on CNN or FOX News. Hopefully, this review will help the readers to navigate through the final two months before making a decision how you will cast your vote. The author shall follow the Republican National Convention (RNC) next week and make a comparable report. The following is my comments on DNC:
- It is obvious that the Democratic Party is more united for 2020 Presidential Election, but it is more for ‘Dump Trump’ than for a unified and prioritized plan to “save the democracy” and to “make the country whole”. The Republicans endorsement of Biden (Kasich, Powell, Christine Todd Whitman and Megan Whitney) only endorsed ‘united by Dump Trump’. There was no concrete ‘first 100 day plan’ if Biden moved into the White House, but there was plenty of bipartisan attacks which would not make the independents know how to swing their votes.
- There was too much personal attack on Trump without linking clearly to specific issues and policies using concrete evidence and candid analysis, especially for clearing fake news and rhetoric which confuses the public. For example, on the management of COVID-19 and Trump Administration’s ‘blame China’ practice without presenting convincing evidence should have been rebutted with a honest analysis at the DNC to establish a clear position and strategy such as collaboration with China and the world rather than just to apply universal test and wear masks.
- Biden made no mention of China in his speech has caught FOX News attention. China policy is one of the most important foreign policy of this decade, perhaps this century. The Democrats cannot be silent on China which would mean endorsement of Trump’s China policy. Standing up firm and competing with China are fine but irrational and unethical diplomatic conduct is not fine. Arresting Shirley Meng of Huawei (brutally sanctioning Huawei, ZTE, etc. and unfairly banning TikTok, Wechat etc. are actually hurting our own economy) and stopping Chinese students to come to the U.S. to study (not only discriminatory but also hurting our educational institutions) were obviously undemocratic and un-American. Why wasn’t any student or educator or businessman speaking at the convention for justice?
- Kamal Harris added significant weight to the B-H ticket which should be celebrated. There was a little overplay of ‘emotional card’ in the DNC, from telling several personal and family stories (some were sad) to highlighting victims in police brutality, gun violence and discrimination. The purpose was obvious for emphasizing empathy and compassion. However, the voters need to hear policy pledges and concrete steps to make corrections in a serious manner.
- I caught an exchange between Julia Dreyfus and Andrew Yang on how to pronounce Vice President Pence’s name in which “a sort of not American name” was uttered. This did not pass unnoticed by the media. This kind of remark could be interpreted in many negative connotations including discrimination. It sure tainted true Americanism.
- Emphasizing ‘voting’ and supporting ‘mail vote’ during pandemic were correct positions to take, but criticizing the current Administration is not enough to solve the problem. Why isn’t any one speaking about how mail fraud can be prevented and what monitoring measures can be implemented? Without facing the problems, the Democrats only play into the Republican accusation: the Democrats just want the votes no matter how and no mater what!
There are many moments that the DNC is uplifting our spirit. However, the most important thing from voters’ perspective is that they need to get assurance from a political convention. They need to have superb candidates who have integrity and capability proven by their career evidence so they feel comfortable to vote for them. The party convention, both DNC and RNC should always bear that in mind.