Democratic National Convention begins with push for unity

Iowa Democrats joined the national Democratic Party Monday to kick off the first night of the party's national convention and unite voters across the political spectrum behind Joe Biden.

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Caleb McCullough, Summer Editor


Iowa Democrats, along with the national party, are trying to appeal to a wide base on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, tying the knot on a long road that began with the Iowa caucuses in February.

The convention, which will conclude on Thursday, aimed to highlight the wide tent of the party Monday night with an ideologically diverse slate of speakers urging moderates, progressives, and independents to unite behind presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. 

 

My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election — the future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-V.t., a featured speaker on Monday and former presidential hopeful in 2016 and 2020.

Sanders brought in the highest number of people in his corner on caucus night, but former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg came away with the highest delegate total.

Janine Ambrose, an Iowa delegate from Black Hawk County, said in an interview with The Daily Iowan that she expects the party convention to appeal to a wide base and build momentum for Biden.

Ambrose said some Republicans have been showing support for Biden at local committee meetings in Black Hawk County, reflecting a national voter bloc of Republicans who don’t approve of President Trump that the Democrats are trying to win over.

“I’m seeing people step up, even from the Republican Party, at the central committee meetings that are moving over and really stepping forward for the Democratic Party, so it’s real exciting,” she said.

Cory Booker, Democratic senator from New Jersey and former presidential hopeful, spoke with the Iowa delegation during a meeting before the main events Monday night. Booker spoke about the derecho that devastated communities across Iowa on Monday and compared it to his own experience with hurricane Sandy in 2012 while mayor of Newark, New Jersey. 

“We are in a storm right now,” he said. “…we are standing together for our fellow Americans. For the independents and the Republicans, for Black and white, for all Americans. Because our cause is not just for a party, it’s for a nation.”

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, also addressed the delegation, urging delegates to work to elect Biden, flip the Senate, and hold the Democratic majority in the U.S. House. 

Axne said Iowans need to win over Trump supporters and people who didn’t vote in the 2016 election, and convince them to vote for Democrats down the ticket.

“We’ve got to make sure that we get the vote, that we make sure that every single person who voted for Obama but sat this out for Hillary gets out there and votes for Joe Biden,” she said, referring to Democrats who did not vote in 2016.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the keynote address, imploring the country to unite around a spirit of empathy and denouncing Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Obama delivered an impassioned speech praising BIden’s record as vice president, and presenting a vote for Biden as a moral imperative for Democrats in November.

“If we want to be able to look our children in the eye after this election, we have got to reassert our place in American history and we have got to do everything we can to elect my friend, Joe Biden, as the next president of the United States,” she said.

The convention’s first night centered around the theme “We the People,” and Democratic leaders said in a press briefing Monday morning that the goal of the night was to unite the Democratic Party’s diverse demographic.

This theme comes during a time of racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement, which has brought thousands of Black and white Americans to protest against police brutality and institutional racism. 

“We are making sure that every segment of the country that supports the Biden-Harris ticket has a chance to express why they’re supporting him,” Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La. said during the press briefing. “That includes GOP members, and GOP people who are supporting the president, because there are a number of them around the country.”

Speakers on Monday included rank-and-file Democrats, Republicans — such as former Ohio governor John Kasich. 

“I’m a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country,” Kasich said during his speech. “That’s why I’ve chosen to appear at this convention. In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times.”

 

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