2020 DNC
August 20, 2020

Joe Biden is focusing on the devastating numbers that have come out of the Trump presidency over the past few months.

The former vice president officially accepted the Democratic party's nomination on Thursday at the final night of the Democratic National Convention. And in making his fullest case for his election yet, he asked everyone to judge President Trump purely "by the facts."

Biden started his speech with a slew of broad promises: that he would choose "hope over fear, fact over fiction, fairness over privilege," and "work hard for those who did not support me." But "no rhetoric is needed" to display just how different he is from the president is up against, Biden continued. "Just judge this president by the facts," namely the 5 million Americans infected with coronavirus, 170,000 who have died from it, and the more than 50 million people who have filed for unemployment over the past few months.

Biden went on to list ways he would combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including through a national mask mandate, "not as a burden but as a patriotic duty to protect one another." Kathryn Krawczyk

August 20, 2020

We now know how much the going rate is for a spot at the Democratic National Convention. Michael Bloomberg spoke for five minutes on Thursday night not long before the nominee itself, a role arguably more prominent than that of Bernie Sanders, the much-abused runner-up.

The former New York mayor's remarks were exactly what you would expect. He began by pointing out that he is not a Democrat. He gloated about the vast amounts of money he has given to buy politicians in all parties. He quoted a children's book. He talked about the importance of experts, like the ones he deferred to when he doubled down on the brutal policing tactics that have been the subject of protests across the country. He even said "hell" twice.

The best part is that he didn't even have to pay for it. Bloomberg reneged on his promise back in March to keep the thousands of paid staff members who carried him to his towering victory in the 2020 American Samoa Democratic primary onboard until the general election. He has given a whopping $18 million to the party itself and just over $4 million to other grassroots organizations this year. He also offered them some useless free office space during the lockdown.

At least President Trump was watching. Matthew Walther

August 20, 2020

On the fourth night of the Democratic National Convention, presidential nominee Joe Biden had a remote roundtable discussion with a number of union representatives. "Unions built America," said Biden. That is correct — but Biden was extremely vague about what should be done in future. Here are a few tips for how Biden and the Democratic Party could secure the union vote both now and in the future.

First, Biden could get behind repealing the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which set up multiple serious obstacles to union organizing and restricted the political liberty of workers in general. It banned sympathy strikes, secondary boycotts, and allowed for states to legalize the open shop. Reversing those coercive legal restrictions would help workers secure a fair share of the income they produce. If he wanted to go even further, Biden could endorse sectoral bargaining to extend union contracts over whole categories of industry, codetermination to put workers on corporate boards, and worker ownership funds to give labor some control over the wealth of the firms where they work.

There is some of this in Biden's campaign platform, to be fair. But I suspect that the most important thing to do for the Democratic Party's future fortunes is to actually deliver on some of these ideas. Donald Trump only lost union households by 8 points — the best margin for a Republican since 1984 — in part because he talked about slanted trade deals and other neoliberal disasters that were passed under Democratic presidents and did terrific damage to American manufacturing. The Democratic Party has a credibility gap on workers and unions, and should Biden win this year, he should demonstrate that he isn't just another fake friend. Ryan Cooper

August 20, 2020

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's presidential run probably couldn't have happened even 10 years ago.

Buttigieg ran probably the most successful presidential campaign of any openly gay man in history, and recognized the history he made in his Democratic National Convention speech on Thursday. "The day I was born ... the idea of an 'out' candidate seeking any federal office at all was laughable," Buttigieg said. "Yet earlier this year I campaigned for the presidency, often with my husband Chasten at my side, winning delegates to this very convention." And he went on to thank Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for helping make that happen.

From the spot where he and Chasten were married, Buttigieg talked about how when he joined the military, "firing me because of who I am wsan't just possible, it was policy." That's now illegal across the U.S., and "the ring on my finger ... reflects how this country can change," Buttigieg said. "Love makes my marriage real, but political courage made it possible, including the courage of Joe Biden, who stepped out ahead of even this party when he said that marriage equality should be the law of the land."

Buttigieg then went on to remind viewers that "if this much can change between 2010 and 2020, imagine what could change between now and 2030." Kathryn Krawczyk

August 20, 2020

The final night of the Democratic National Convention has arrived, and with it, former vice president turned presidential nominee Joe Biden's long awaited speech.

Several former 2020 presidential candidates will speak on Thursday, including Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.); former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), who were both reportedly in consideration to be Biden's vice president, will also speak. The Chicks, John Legend, and Common will perform, and Biden will then close out the night and the convention.

The official livestream can be viewed on the 2020 Democratic National Convention website, as well as the DNC's social media channels, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. On Amazon Prime video, search for "DNC," and on Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV, search "Democratic National Convention." The DNC has also set up a channel on Twitch to stream the event.

ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News will air the convention from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, with CNN, C-SPAN, PBS, and MSNBC broadcasting the full program beginning at 9 p.m. ET. All of the major networks will also have livestreams on their websites. The Week Staff

August 20, 2020

When Joe Biden accepts the Democratic Party's presidential nomination tonight, it will mark a major milestone in a journey he's been on for more than three decades.

Biden first sought his party's nomination for the 1988 race, but his candidacy didn't even survive into the election year: He withdrew in September 1987 after reports he had plagiarized portions of a speech by British politician Neil Kinnock. (He ended up having surgery for a brain aneurism in early 1988 and wouldn't have been able to run, anyway.) Biden returned to the Senate for two more decades before taking a second shot at the presidency in 2008 — but that was the year Barack Obama narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton for the nomination. Biden washed out early again, quitting after he received less than 1 percent of the vote in that year's Iowa caucuses.

That's where the story probably would have ended, if Obama hadn't selected Biden as his vice president.

It is difficult to think of another figure in American history who pursued the presidency for so long. William Jennings Bryan and Henry Clay both ran and lost three times apiece. Adlai Stevenson was the Democratic Party's nominee in 1952 and 1956 — both times falling short — and might've won the nomination in 1960, too, if not for the emergence of John F. Kennedy. Then-Vice President Richard Nixon lost to Kennedy that year only to run again and win eight years later. Ronald Reagan whiffed twice, in 1968 and 1976, before winning the GOP nomination and the presidency in 1980. Those extended efforts were all relatively short, though, in comparison to Biden's. (We'd be remiss if we didn't note that comedian Pat Paulsen ran satirically in six elections between 1968 and 1992, picking up a few votes along the way.)

It is expected that one-in-10 voters this year are between the ages of 18 and 23 — Biden's pursuit of the presidency is older than much of the electorate. His nomination tonight might be evidence that Baby Boomers have hung on to power for too long. Or it just might prove the power of persistence. Joel Mathis

August 20, 2020

Barack Obama gave a highly-anticipated speech at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday. In it he attacked Donald Trump for attempting to rig the election, committing tons of crimes, and using his power to line his own pockets. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris understand, he said, that "no one — including the president — is above the law, and that no public official — including the president — should use their office to enrich themselves or their supporters."

This bears a marked contrast with Obama's record as president. His administration refused to seriously prosecute thousands and thousands of financial criminals. People who did everything from money laundering for drug cartels to mortgage document fraud on an industrial scale got off with wrist-slap fines. Attorney General Eric Holder said that he was reluctant to file charges because it might create financial instability.

Obama also refused to prosecute Bush-era CIA officials who violated the laws against torture. Both he and Holder admitted in their own words that it was torture, yet filed no charges, because as Obama said, the culprits were "patriots" who had "tough jobs," and people shouldn't "feel too sanctimonious" about all the crimes. Instead, Obama ran interference for the agency when it was illegally spying on Senate investigators who were looking into the program. One of the people neck-deep in the illegal torture program is now in charge of the CIA.

All this was a great example of the elite impunity Obama excoriated in his speech. Hopefully Joe Biden will not follow the previous Democratic trend of fiercely condemning Republican criminality only to quickly look the other way after actually taking office. Ryan Cooper

August 19, 2020

I cannot be the only viewer who spent most of the first hour or so of the third night of the virtual Democratic National Convention wondering whether CNN was taking an extended commercial break to allow, say, BP to tell you about their commitment to green energy. The extended clip-show format was jarring the first night, tired on the second, and on the third almost indescribably boring.

Thank goodness we have had a succession of celebrity hosts to guide us like Virgil through perdition. Where would the American electorate be without Isabella from The Young and the Restless to remind them of the horrors of income inequality?

Seriously, though: the cameos from allegedly famous persons were even more bizarre than the brief spots on climate change and gun control they interrupted. In common with, one suspects, a sizeable number of ostensibly undecided voters in Midwestern swing states, I had never heard of Billie Eilish until Wednesday. Something tells me that the demographic interested in a YouTube star dressed like it is about to eat spider guts in a Tim Burton movie does not overlap a great deal with the Obama-to-Trump swing voters the DNC is desperate to reach.

Hollywood is not doing the Democratic Party any favors by turning what should be a straightforward election fought on unemployment, health care, education, and other kitchen-sink issues into a festival of groan-inducing wokeness. This is why the transition to Barack Obama’s sober remarks was so striking. Unlike the goofball the party hired to butcher Ben E. King’s immortal “Stand By Me” with a backing track that sounded like an old Sega game, the former president understands the American electorate.

It has been astonishing to watch the last few nights of this convention under the (admittedly ludicrous) assumption that is meant to speak to the feelings or aspirations of actual voters. For Joe Biden's sake, let's hope his campaign entertains no such illusions. Matthew Walther

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