The third night of the Democratic National Convention, rightfully so, was about Joe Biden and his ability to lead. At issue are the people - the faces of democracy - he will be charged to lead and the mess - the current state of our democracy - he and Kamala Harris will have to clean up. Every speech, image and moment was dedicated to the work that will need to be done following a woefully derelict and incompetent administration.
The opening image of children in masks was poignant. The question of reopening schools in the midst of a pandemic joined the unaddressed issue of gun violence prevention. Notable speeches were given by Deandra Dycus, the mother of Dre, a teenaged nonverbal quadriplegic who was shot as he danced at a party, and former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The mother of a survivor and a survivor questioned the unresponsiveness of the current president.
The question of a democracy that no longer welcomes immigrants or treats them respectfully was addressed in a thoughtful package about Dreamers and the treatment of children (in cages, separated from mothers) at the borders. The most emotional stories were about the undocumented mother who brought her child here for medical treatment, and Estella’s story about her mother who was removed from the country though her children and husband were citizens.
Alfre Woodard’s narration over a montage of images of women’s fight to vote was the perfect introduction to speeches by former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Clinton said, “I wish Donald Trump knew how to be a president,” and politely offered fact after fact to demonstrate what she believes is his inability to effectively lead the country. To the question of a much-needed change, Madame Speaker asked, “Who’s standing in the way?”
Segments that followed were Joe-focused. We learned more about his fight to create domestic violence legislation and his support of domestic workers.
Former President Barack Obama standing against a patriotic backdrop in Philadelphia proceeded to tell us more about Joe’s decency and integrity as he took on what was at stake: Democracy. In what has to be the most direct and emotional speeches he’s given to-date, Obama - a constitutional law student - prevailed upon America to save the foundation and soul of this country.
“I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care,” said Obama.
In the shaking voice of a leader who is also a citizen, Obama implored everyone to take democracy seriously. “You can give our democracy new meaning. You can take it to a better place. You're the missing ingredient -- the ones who will decide whether or not America becomes the country that fully lives up to its creed,” he said.
Finally, Sen. Kamala Harris accepted her party’s nomination as candidate for Vice-President of the United States with an incredible speech that opened with endorsements from her sister, niece and bonus-daughter, and many others who know her well. Their love for her was palpable as was her love for them. Harris’ speech began as an introduction to her as a person, where she credited the example of her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, as important to any success she’s achieved. She thanked everyone who has helped her, including her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters and her HBCU family of friends. It was all very warm and personable, but then she took up where Barack Obama left off, giving us a glimpse of the leader she will be as vice-president.
“And at every step of the way, I've been guided by the words I spoke from the first time I stood in a courtroom: Kamala Harris, For the People.
"I've fought for children, and survivors of sexual assault. I've fought against transnational gangs. I took on the biggest banks, and helped take down one of the biggest for-profit colleges.
"I know a predator when I see one,” she said.
Mic dropped. Gloves off. Harris closed the evening with a speech about what democracy should look like, the mess it has become, and the work needed to reclaim it with our votes.
“It's not about Joe or me. It's about you. It's about us.”
You can view the third night of the convention by watching the video below.