In the run-up to the Convention, the Democratic party had two significant concerns. First, there were the fears of disunity between the various wings of the party, and then, worries over Biden’s potential for gaffs or looking like he was “mentally shot.” At least these were the concerns debated on the major television networks and Twitter.
The Convention was already a unique and historic event, given the circumstances dictated by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Empty arenas, social distancing, messages and speeches delivered over Zoom replaced the normal razzamatazz and the excitement of packed halls. Despite some hiccups, people on Zoom looking bored before delayed cheering for some addresses, by and large, it was an impressive success.
The unity of the party was evident from start to finish. Delegate after delegate outlined their plans to defeat Trump, control the virus, reform healthcare, create jobs, raise wages, make education affordable, improve infrastructure, and take action on climate change. The stars of the party shone as they made character and decency central to the Democratic platform. The message was positive and hopeful- a sense that the darkness will end soon, and then there will be light. However, there was also a constant warning of the threat Donald Trump poses to American democracy.
Character and decency were front and center of the Convention. It was clear that the democrats wanted to draw a complete contrast with the current President and their nominee, Joe Biden – they tried to show Joe-the family man, Joe-the man of compassion, and just that Joe was an all-round “nice” guy. Joe Biden was the anti-Trump, a decent man, a regular guy, and a man of character. They did this in spades, and it was a welcome break from the negativity and the never-ending list of scandals of the Trump Presidency. However, character and decency were also evident in the choice of speakers, the content of their speeches, and the content of their characters.
The high profile stars delivered for the party, each speaker competing to steal the show with impressive speech after impressive speech. Four stood out – Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama, and Barrack Obama.
Warren could be the smartest person in the United States- she is on top of so many different briefs. She can explain detailed and specific policy so succinctly that I look forward to her getting a senior role in Cabinet. Harris also did a fine job- displaying her toughness and intelligence to complement her obvious likeability. The Obama’s were both incredible and gave two excellent- yet very different speeches. Michelle reminded everyone of her class, once again explaining the importance of not lowering yourself to your opponent’s level.
Her husband, former President Barrack Obama, reminded us of his eloquence, intelligence, and just how nice it was to hear a leader who could put coherent sentences together. However, on this occasion, Obama left America in no doubt about the danger Trump posed to the very idea of America. He was angry about Trump’s attempts to divide America, the damage to the constitution, and the threat to American democracy and the American way of life.
Despite the upbeat nature of the Convention, the togetherness of the former rival candidates, and the beautiful scenes from all the States showcased by the roll call, there was a lingering worry that Biden’s speech wouldn’t deliver to seal the deal. Expectations were low, partly due to Trump’s attacks but mostly because Joe has always been prone to gaffs and had been a weak performer in some of the primary debates.
There was no need to worry- Biden knocked it out of the ballpark.
Speaking as a proud Democrat, he began with a call to unite the country to bring the best, not the worst, out of Americans. As a President for all Americans, he offered hope, life, and love. Invoking FDR and the “New Deal” he laid out his determination to win the heart and soul of the “generous” and the “workers.” Biden acknowledged that America was facing a difficult moment-facing four generational crises. He pointed to the pandemic, the economy, race relations, and climate change as the quadruple problems facing the country. Biden advised the people that they were facing a choice of two paths- “life-changing paths”- a path of darkness, if Trump is re-elected, versus the path of light that he was offering.
Biden, whose delivery was flawless- at times, angry at times compassionate and emotional- but always relatable, hammered Trump’s policies and personality. Yet he returned to his positive message of hope and his policies – his plan for the virus, his plan to raise wages and build infrastructure, and his healthcare and climate change plan. Biden distinguished himself from Trump through his generous and genuine messages of thanks to Barrack Obama and his VP pick Kamala Harris. Nobody can doubt Joe Biden’s love for his wife, Jill, or that he is a family man.
Biden ended the speech with Heany’s quote when “hope and history rhyme.” This line perfectly fitted the moment. The Convention had returned hope to the audience. A better future is possible. It’s up to the American people to make the history rhyme with the hope by getting the vote out and making sure Trump is a one-term President, and America can return to its place as a beacon of freedom for the whole world.