Democratic National Convention takes on a virtual format with theme of unity

Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders said although his campaign had ended, “Our movement continues” during the Democratic National Convention.

Katherine Kealey

The 2020 Democratic National Convention is not taking place in a packed arena with balloons and live music. Instead, for the first time in history, the convention is happening virtually due to the pandemic. 

Headlining the first night of the convention is former First Lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders, with the theme of the event being built around unity. Obama and Sanders spoke of the importance of voting for Joe Biden come the election this fall.

“The truth is, even before Trump’s negligent response to this pandemic, too many hard-working families have been caught on an economic treadmill with no hope of ever getting ahead,” Sanders said. “Together, we must build a nation that is more equitable, more compassionate and more inclusive. I know that Joe Biden will begin that fight on day one.”

Obama said she has seen the power of the presidency, and the job requires someone with a moral compass, the ability to listen and the ability to value every single American’s life.

“A president’s words have the power to move markets. They can start wars or broker peace; they can summon our better angels or awaken our worst instincts. You simply cannot fake your way through this job,” Obama said. “As I have said before, being president does not change who you are; it reveals who you are.”

 Obama said that come this election, voters need to show out on election day by voting early, requesting and sending in mail-in ballots and making sure family and friends vote as well.

“This is not the time to withhold our votes and protest or play games with candidates who have no chance of winning,” Obama said. “We have got to vote like we did in 2008 and 2012; we have got to show up with the same level of passion and the same level of hope for Joe Biden.” 

The convention also had former Ohio Gov. John Kasich along with other Republicans who have endorsed Biden over President Donald Trump. Kasich said even though he is a lifelong Republican, he chose to appear at the convention because he first has a responsibility to his country and that he was “proud” of his Republican heritage but Trump’s first term “belies those principles.”

“I’m sure there are Republicans and Independents who couldn’t imagine crossing over to support a Democrat,” Kasich said. “They fear [Biden] may turn sharp left and leave them behind. I don’t believe that because I know the measure of the man. It’s reasonable, faithful, respectful and, you know, no one pushes [Biden] around.”

Former Democratic presidential candidates such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Cory Booker and businessman Andrew Yang also made an appearance to support their candidate. Topics discussed throughout the night were the impacts of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, spoke about the movement the death of his brother ignited, and he also acknowledged the deaths of other Black men and women who lost their lives from police brutality.

“So it’s up to us to carry on the fight for justice,” Philonise Floyd said. “Our actions will be their legacies. We must always find ourselves in what John Lewis called ‘good trouble.’ For the names we do not know, the faces we will never see, those we can’t mourn because their murders didn’t go viral.”