Democrats try to Create a “Big Tent Party” but Might Still be Preaching to the Anti-Trump Choir
by Omkar Ratnaparkhi
The Democratic National Convention (DNC) and the Republican National Convention (RNC) made their cases to America’s electorate. The DNC took place virtually from Monday, August 17th to Thursday, August 20th.
Controversy Before the Convention
The days leading up to the start of the convention were not free of controversy after the DNC announced its list of speakers. Many prominent Republicans were included on the lineup, including former Ohio Governor and Presidential Candidate John Kasich and former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell. However, many progressive Democrats were angered that prominent progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was given less than a minute of speaking time while prominent anti-Trump Republicans were given much more time. Many young progressive voters have various reasons to not vote for Joe Biden, such as his ties to corporate America, his repeated rebukes of Medicare-For-All, and his support of policies that have stifled criminal justice reform and promoted broken windows policing. Despite the need to ensure that young voters have a high turnout, the DNC continued to push home unity as the focal point of the convention. The justification for having many prominent Republicans speak was to reach out to people of other ideologies and form a big tent coalition by unifying liberals and conservatives who dislike President Trump.
The Case for a Biden-Harris Ticket
The other central notion of the convention was a return to normalcy. When Joe Biden was vice president, America did not have widespread social unrest in the streets, race relations were better according to polls, and a pandemic had not killed about 190,000 Americans. Due to the virtual nature of the DNC, speeches by political figures were interspersed with appeals by everyday Americans. They tried to make the case for Joe Biden by describing the struggles of living through the pandemic and not having the adequate healthcare or job opportunities in President Trump’s America. Each night had a keynote address to end the day and drive home a specific theme. The first night’s theme was “We the People,” and the evening ended with Michelle Obama calling for a return to normalcy in American politics. The second night was “Leadership Matters,” and Former President Bill Clinton and Former Second Lady Jill Biden emphasized Joe Biden’s leadership qualities. Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick Sen. Kamala Harris spoke on the third night, as did former President Barack Obama. Both Harris and Obama tried to explain how an America under the Biden administration will be better than even the Obama administration’s, and Harris pointed to her personal story of being raised by Indian and Jamaican American parents as a symbol of American unity. Former Vice President Biden’s acceptance speech occured on the last day with the theme of “America’s Promise.” The speakers on the final day attempted to contrast the moral character of Biden with that of Trump.
In general, the DNC was a standard political convention interspersed with a few everyday folks and special virtual features. Center-left Democrats and the mainstream media praised the convention as a return to normalcy and a call for unity. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria went as far as calling it a resurgence of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “big tent party.” Progressive Democrats such as Secular Talk radio host Kyle Kulinski thought this characterization was totally disingenuous. FDR’s big tent party was able to attract both social liberals and social conservatives because they all mostly agreed on leftist economic policies like social security. This was not true of the DNC because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and John Kasich probably don’t agree on a single economic political issue. The only truly unifying factor of the speakers at the convention was their disdain for Donald Trump. Polling from The Pew Research Center shows that most Americans voting for Joe Biden are voting because they want to remove President Trump from office. Turnout and retention of disillusioned voters is crucial to a Biden-Harris victory. The reason Secretary Clinton lost many typically Democratic states of the rust-belt region is because of lower Democratic turnout in strongholds such as Detroit and disillusionment among the Democratic base. In predominantly White areas that are labor union strongholds, President Obama consistently won over White blue-collar workers, but Clinton was unable to achieve the same result. The DNC’s ability to actually attract more voters will be measured by Biden’s success or failure on November 3rd by political pundits, but many would argue that the DNC has little to no effect on the sway of the electorate. America isn’t voting for Joe Biden or Kamala Harris because they are the most representative of the people. America is voting for the Biden-Harris ticket because it’s sick and tired of the past four years of the Trump administration.