Updated: Aug 21, 2020
By Solomon Smith, Political News Editor
Located on the phones, tablets, laptops and televisions of Americans across the country, the virtual Democratic Nomination Convention gathered Democrats across a broad spectrum to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden as the nominee of the Democratic party for president of the United States.
The second night’s formalities, like roll call and nominations, was a small part of day two of the DNC, as speakers continued to set new precedents in their support of the Biden-Harris ticket by attacking the sitting president. The theme for the night was “Leadership Matters.”
“Tonight’s focus is on the leaders and the experts, the veterans, the activists, and all those who seek to unite and not divide, and who step up — and don’t back down — from a fight over what’s right,” read a statement from the DNC.
Speeches from Democratic party leaders like New York Senator Chuck Schumer, or Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez, were to be expected. It was the overwhelming support for Biden from those who traditionally remain silent during this process, that spoke volumes. Almost all of them criticized President Donald J. Trump. Sally Yates, former acting Attorney General of the United States, was one of the first to give opening remarks and a scathing review of Trump.
“Then, 10 days in, I was fired for refusing to defend President Trump’s shameful and unlawful Muslim travel ban,” said Yates. “That was the start of his relentless attacks on our democratic institutions and countless dedicated public servants.”
First Lady Jill Biden spoke about the hardships Americans are experiencing under the Trump administration, but focused on experience as a mother in relating to how Americans may be feeling.
“As a mother and a grandmother, as an American, I am heartbroken by the magnitude of this loss — by the failure to protect our communities — by every precious and irreplaceable life gone,” she said. “Like so many of you, I’m left asking: how do I keep my family safe?”
Other unusual speakers included former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalyn Carter, who described Biden as having the “heart and talent” to lead. Carter, however, ended his speech with one of the more subtle digs at Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.
“During these uncertain times,” said Carter, “Joe Biden realizes that many American lives can be saved each day with the use of masks and testing, as recommended by our medical experts.”
Former President Bill Clinton took a more direct criticism of the current president recalling Trump's tepid response to the pandemic.
“At first he said the virus was under control and would soon disappear,” said Clinton. “When it didn’t, he was on TV everyday bragging on what a great job he was doing, while scientists waited to give us vital information. When he didn’t like the expert advice he was given, he ignored it.”
The night continued as caucuses counted their votes from various places across the country with a concerted effort to show diversity and inclusiveness. Farmers, business owners and Black members from the LGBTQ community announced the results of their states’ caucus, moving the overwhelming weight of the Democratic party behind Biden.
Coming through on his promise to elect a woman of color, his vice-presidential pick, California junior senator Kamala Harris, has added momentum Biden needed to unite voters and the party.
The first night was a referendum on Trump the man. His character flaws were the topic, but even more importantly, how those flaws make Trump a dangerous reckless leader culminating in a speech from former First Lady Michelle Obama, who pushed the message hard. It was delivered directly to viewers as Americans were moved by her earnest and dire warnings.
“Because whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness,” said the former first lady, “what we get instead is chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy.”
The singular characteristic of the night, and perhaps the rest of the convention, was boiled down to one “cold hard truth” by Mrs. Obama, using some of Trump's own words.
“So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she said. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”