Four nights of virtual conventions build up into one moment, former Vice President Joe Biden’s acceptance of the Democratic presidential nomination.
By Solomon Smith, Political News Editor
After three nights of speeches about the humanity of the presidential hopeful (and the referendums on President Donald J. Trump), the last night of the DNC was reserved mostly as a moment of reflection.
A moving tribute to John Lewis, the famous civil rights leader and house member who passed away on July 17, 2020 included speakers who paid their respects to his activism. Keisha Lance-Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta, who had been an unapologetic supporter of Biden and was considered for the vice-presidential nominee, introduced the tribute.
“He walked gently amongst us — not as a distant icon, but as a God-fearing man, doing what he could do to fulfill the as-yet unfulfilled promise of America,” said Bottoms. “People often think they can’t make a difference like our civil rights icons, but every person in the movement mattered — those who made the sandwiches, swept the church floors, stuffed the envelopes.”
Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus was also a welcome relief after three nights of serious warnings about the current state of affairs. Her introduction of segments was laced with the humor and sarcasm “Seinfeld” fans would expect. Her target, most often, was Trump.
"Joe Biden goes to church so regularly that he doesn't even need tear gas and a bunch of federalized troops to help him get there,” said Dreyfus.
She also spoke about a phone call with Biden after receiving a diagnosis of cancer, a disease which had taken Biden’s son, Beau Biden.
“His real warmth and kindness … man, I gotta say, it made me cry,” said Dreyfus. “Our current president has made me cry too, but it’s never had anything to do with his warmth or kindness.”
Beau Biden was a large part of the night, shifting the convention’s mood from one of harsh criticism and comparison to one of introspection. The Biden family gave the usual personal stories about Joe Biden, ice-cream raids in the middle of the night, but also included the loss of Beau in the narrative. Some of his words from the 2008 campaign were used to introduce and describe his father and the type of leader he would be.
Previous primary rivals Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Yang and Amy Klobuchar, hosted by Corey Booker in a video round-table, talked about the qualities of Biden and competing for the Democratic ticket. All supported the nomination of Biden emphasizing his skill as a leader.
“I think the day I saw Joe the clearest was the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing … at some point in that speech he shifted to the parent who had lost a child,” said Warren. “He was someone who had experienced loss very personally and he spoke to each of the families from the heart.”
Brayden Harrington also had a story to attest to Biden’s personal touch. He shared the time that Biden helped him with a stutter. Biden grew up with this speech impediment and worked to overcome it, sharing a story about how his mother helped him against bullying from his own teacher. Harrington read a written statement about how Biden helped him.
“He told me about a book of poems by Yates he would read aloud to practice,” said Harrington. “I’m just a regular kid and in a short amount of time, Joe Biden made me more confident about something that's bothered me my whole life. Joe Biden cared. Imagine what he could do for all of us.”
The personal anecdotes about Biden’s humanity from people he met, family members and rivals emphasized the DNC’s hidden theme of compassion and service. Something the current president has been harshly criticized for. Biden accepted the nomination and emphasized this himself.
“We’ll choose hope over fear. Facts over fiction. Fairness over privilege. I’m a proud Democrat. And I’ll be proud to carry the banner of our party into the general election,” said Biden. “So it’s with great honor and humility I accept this nomination for President of the United States of America.”
He lambasted Trump as a president who “has failed in the most basic of duties.” He also promised to give the “unvarnished truth” and Thursday night, Americans got more of Biden than in the last few weeks. A promise to protect Social Security and Medicare and, for the first time, the idea of environmental and economic injustice being rooted in racism from a presidential candidate. He made it clear his intention to unify the country.
“But while I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn't support me as I will for those who did,” said Biden. “That's the job of a president. To represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment.”
The 2020 Republican National Convention is scheduled for Aug. 24 and can be viewed on major news networks.