The lack of a live band, confetti floating, and loud, raucous conveners was a bit jarring. Viewers knew it would be different. The DNC had more than adequately prepared us for this hybrid (virtual/live) convention. COVID-19 had also prepared most of us for meeting virtual without lots of fanfare in front of our computer screens. Ultimately, our new normal helped us overlook a few production glitches, the absence of Earth, Wind & Fire or Journey playing between speeches, the interruption of reporter commentary, and we adapted.
Though the hype was missing, the emotionalism was very present in the form of streamed interviews, video packages, and some of the speeches. The first night was all about Joe and “decency,” the mail and voter suppression, COVID-19, and the need to use might to fight four years of what was described as incompetent, tyrannic leadership.
The Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota were mere mentions in Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s speech. Klobuchar addressed those things that meant the most to her: supporting Joe Biden, the death of George Floyd, senior Americans, and the United States Postal Service. She was among the first to use the word “decency” to describe and define the leadership of Joe Biden. She might have mentioned that Minneapolis is leading in a push for police reform, but she did not.
Instead, Floyd’s brothers - Rodney and Philonise - reminded America about the urgent need to address racial injustice, police reform, and that their brother’s death changed the hearts and minds of many Americans. They also led viewers in a moment of silence to remember Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others who were victims of hate-fueled violence.
“George should be alive today. Breonna Taylor should be alive today. Ahmaud Arbery should be alive today. Eric Garner should be alive today. Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland — they should all be alive today,” said Philonise.
One of the most poignant moments involved the story of COVID-19 victim Mark Antonio Urquiza as told by his daughter Kristin. She said, “My dad was a healthy 65 year old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life.”
Bernie Sanders, looking rested and ready, implored his supporters and others to prioritize ousting the current president with their votes.
“During the president’s term, the unthinkable has become normal. He has tried to prevent people from voting, undermined the US Postal Service, deployed the military and federal agents against peaceful protesters, threatened to delay the election and suggested that he will not leave office if he loses. This is not normal, and we must never treat it like it is,” said Sanders.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama closed out the evening with a cool-headed yet impassioned endorsement for Joe Biden and his “decency” but more so for the elimination of the indecency of this current administration.
"He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is," said Obama.
Her appeal to voters was less ask and more how-to. She said, "We have got to grab our comfortable shoes, put on our masks, pack a brown bag dinner and maybe breakfast, too. Because we've got to be willing to stand in line all night if we have to."
You can watch the first night’s highlights by following the DNC’s website and social networks.
For a schedule of the week’s events, read our primer.