‘Vote for Joe Biden Like Our Lives Depend on It’: Michelle Obama

The first night of the DNC included Republicans, relatives of George Floyd, and kin of those who died of COVID-19.

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The first night of the democratic national convention saw millions of Americans tune in on 17 August night (our 18 August morning) for a two-hour long programme, that included socialists, republicans, relatives of George Floyd to the family members of those killed by COVID-19.
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“So if you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.”

These are the words of former first lady, Michelle Obama, from a 18-minute address which was played on the first night of the four-day conclave of the Democratic National Convention on 17 August.

‘Vote for Joe Biden Like Our Lives Depend on It’: Michelle Obama
(Quote card: Erum Gour/The Quint)
The first night of the democratic national convention saw millions of Americans tune in on 17 August night (18 August in India) for the two-hour long programme that included Socialists and Republicans. Relatives of George Floyd, and family members of those who died of COVID-19 were also a part of the virtual meet.

Here’s a look at the key speeches from the event, and what was different about the convention this time.

An Unconventional Democratic National Convention

Democrats abandoned their plans to gather at Milwaukee and decided to hold the convention online, in a bid to demonstrate responsible leadership during a national health emergency.

What would normally be an all-day event, with political leaders on a podium addressing thousands of people, was packed into a two-hour long zoom call.

Among the main speakers was former first lady Michelle Obama who gave the keynote address. She urged voters to mobilise to turn US President Donald Trump out of office and elect Democratic nominee, Joseph R Biden Jr.

Also present was Biden’s former opponent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Ohio Governor and Republican, John Kasich. The one-of-a-kind virtual event was moderated by Hollywood actress Eva Longoria.

Donald Trump is The Wrong President: Michelle Obama

In an online convention – a departure from the usual that the US presidential race has so far seen – Michelle Obama said, “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. 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.”

‘Vote for Joe Biden Like Our Lives Depend on It’: Michelle Obama
(Quote card: Erum Gour/The Quint)
She warned America that children had seen the country leaders “emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists,” and added how “stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation’s highest office”.

Speaking about Barack Obama’s presidency when Biden served as vice president, she said, “We had a record-breaking stretch of job creation. We’d secured the right to healthcare for 20,000,000 people. We were respected around the world, rallying our allies to confront climate change. And our leaders had worked hand-in-hand with scientists to help prevent an Ebola outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.” Coming to the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, “Four years later, the state of this nation is very different. More than 150,000 people have died, and our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long.”

Michelle said every time the people looked to the White House for leadership or consolation “what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy”.

This Election is About Preserving Our Democracy: Bernie Sanders

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who dropped out of the presidential race said this election was about preserving America’s democracy.

‘Vote for Joe Biden Like Our Lives Depend on It’: Michelle Obama
(Quote card: Erum Gour/The Quint)

He spoke directly to his supporters along the two consecutive presidential campaigns that he has participated in and urged them to back Joe Biden. “Our campaign ended several months ago, but our movement continues and is getting stronger everyday. Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered radical, are now mainstream. But let us be clear, if Donald Trump is re-elected all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy. In its most basic, this election is about preserving our democracy.”

He also said, “This election is the most important in the modern history of the country. In response to the unprecedented crisis we face, we need an unprecedented response, a movement like never before of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency.”

John Kasich Made the Republicans’ Case for Biden

In a pre-recorded message to support Biden’s presidency, Kasich, who is a Republican, got creative with his 90-second message.

“Elections present a real choice to individuals and a nation, about which path we want to take when we have come to challenging times. America is at that crossroads today,” Kasich said.

Assuaging the fears of Republicans, who are worried Biden may turn sharp left, he said, “I’m sure there are Republicans and independents who couldn’t imagine crossing over to support a Democrat. They believe he may turn sharp left and leave them behind. I don’t believe that. I know the measure of the man. Reasonable, faithful, respectful and no one pushes Joe around.”

‘Vote for Joe Biden Like Our Lives Depend on It’: Michelle Obama
(Quote card: Erum Gour/The Quint)(Quote card: Erum Gour/The Quint)

George Should Be Alive Today: Philonise Floyd

Also speaking at the DNC for Joe Biden was George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd. Speaking about his brother’s death that led to large-scale protests, he said, “George was selfless. He always made sacrifices for his family, friends and even complete strangers. George had a giving spirit. A spirit that has shown up on streets around our nation and around our world. People of all races, all ages, all genders, all backgrounds have been peacefully protesting in the name of love and unity.”

‘Vote for Joe Biden Like Our Lives Depend on It’: Michelle Obama
(Quote card: Erum Gour/The Quint)

He led in observing a moment of silence to honour George and the many other souls who lost their lives to hate and injustice.

The Cost of Trusting Trump

‘Vote for Joe Biden Like Our Lives Depend on It’: Michelle Obama
(Quote card: Erum Gour/The Quint)

Kristin Urquiza, a woman who lost her 65-year-old father to COVID-19, gave one of the more powerful speeches of the day. She explained in a one-minute long speech how her father trusted Trump and paid for it.

“My father should be here today, but he is not. He had faith in Donald Trump. He voted for him, listened to him, believed him and his mouthpieces when they said that coronavirus was under control and going to disappear. That it was okay to end social distancing rules before it was safe and if you had no underlying health conditions you would probably be fine,” she said.

“So in late-May, after the stay-at-home order was lifted in Arizona my dad went to a karaoke bar with his friends. A few weeks later he was put on a ventilator and after five agonising days, he died alone, in the ICU with a nurse holding his hand.”

“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old and his only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump and for that he paid with his life,” Urquiza said.

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