The Democratic National Convention kicked off this evening as an experiment in pandemic-times virtual pomp and circumstance, showcasing some of the most notable leaders in the Democratic Party alongside some well-known never-Trump Republicans, like former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
The built-for-cable-news programming also included some wrenching appeals from real voters — such as the emotional tribute from Kristin Urquiza, who lost her father to COVID-19 and tore into President Trump’s handling of the pandemic, as well as an impassioned speech from 15-year-old activist Marley Dias.
Toward the end of the evening Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) appeared, placed strategically alongside Kasich’s performance to, in theory, show a cohesive Democratic movement uniting the center-right and left wing of the party in a comfy middle ground. Sanders decried some of President Trump’s most dangerous policies and said this election was about nothing less than preserving democracy.
“Many of the ideas we fought for a few years ago were considered radical and are now mainstream. But let us be clear. If Donald Trump is reelected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy,” Sanders said. “And at it’s most basic, this election is about preserving our democracy.”
“Nero fiddled while Rome burned,” Sanders added. “Trump golfs.”
Obama’s stirring speech at the end of the evening delved into the urgency of the current political moment and bluntly stated what’s at stake if the party doesn’t unite in 2020.
“If you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this,” she said. “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.”
Read our live coverage of the first night of the DNC below: