Democrats made sure their convention looked like America
The 2020 Democratic National Convention reflected a diverse nation.
This week’s Democratic National Convention was notable for its diversity, showcasing Americans of all types, in myriad ways.
The party made history, nominating Joe Biden, who would be only America’s second Catholic president if elected, and Kamala Harris, who would be the nation’s first female vice president, first Black vice president, and first Asian American vice president.
But it also included speakers that reflected America’s many races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, ages, national origins, and life experiences.
America’s first Black president and first lady, Barack and Michelle Obama; America’s first Latina senator, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada; its first Democratic Latina governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico; one of America’s first two Native American women to serve in Congress, Deb Haaland of New Mexico; the first Asian American to be a major Democratic presidential candidate, Andrew Yang; and two white former presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, all played important roles in the proceedings.
In addition to the convention chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who is Black, the programs featured many Democrats of color, including Black Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), House Majority Whip James Clyburn, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Asian American Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL); and Latina Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
The convention included people from many religious faiths. Delaware Rabbi Michael Beals told a story about Biden quietly participating in a Jewish Shiva prayer service for a longtime supporter.
Sister Simone Campbell, a Roman Catholic who has advocated for social justice with “Nuns on the Bus” trips, prayed for an America where “hungry people are fed, children are nourished, immigrants are welcomed.”
And Muslim-American Gold Star father Khzir Khan reminded Donald Trump that his 2016 offer to lend him a copy of the U.S. constitution “still stands.”
Two of the most powerful speakers on Thursday night were among the youngest and oldest participants.
First, 95-year-old Edward Good — a veteran of World War II and Korea, a lifelong Republican, an NRA member, and a 2016 Trump voter — explained why he will vote for Biden this time around.
Then, a self-described 13-year-old “regular kid” from New Hampshire named Brayden Harrington recounted how Biden had helped him learn to speak in public, despite having a stutter.
The party also spotlighted its many powerful and accomplished women. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates; Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; and 1996 Republican National Convention keynote speaker Susan Molinari all took part.
The speakers ran the ideological gamut, and even included several Republicans. Progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and conservatives like former Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) agreed on their support for Biden and the urgent need to replace Trump.
Beyond just reaffirming the party’s support for LGBTQ rights, several historic LGBTQ trailblazers were involved.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first openly lesbian U.S. senator, spoke about her experiences with childhood illness and the need for affordable health care.
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the first major openly gay presidential candidate, talked about serving in the military before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed and Biden’s leadership on marriage equality.
Virginia state Del. Danica Roem, the nation’s first openly transgender state legislator, helped recite the preamble to the U.S. Constitution.
Rep. Deb Haaland, a 35th generation New Mexican and enrolled member of the Pueblo Laguna, talked on Thursday about how “tribal nations have fought for and helped build this country” and understand that “voting is sacred.”
On Wednesday, the Sanchezes of Charlotte, North Carolina, spoke of their experiences as undocumented immigrants and the importance of the DACA program for Dreamers. And 11-year-old Estela Juarez read a letter to Donald Trump about seeing her mother deported back to Mexico after two years in the United States.
The speakers also shared their diverse experiences as Americans.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who lost both legs during her Army service in Iraq, spoke about the sacrifices of military families.
Kristin Urquiza, who lost her father to COVID-19, spoke of the Trump administration’s botched handling of the pandemic.
Ady Barkan, a 36-year-old dad who was diagnosed with ALS in 2016, highlighted the need to fix the “fundamentally broken” health care system.
And DeAndra Dycus, an Indianapolis mom whose 13-year-old son lost his ability to speak and walk when he was shot in the head at a birthday party, called out Trump’s apathy toward gun violence.
Next week’s Republican National Convention will reportedly highlight the small number of GOP leaders who are not straight, white, cisgender men. But given the lack of diversity in the party’s elected officials, it is not likely to come close to what was on display this week.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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