Tonight, the first night of the Democratic National Convention is “We the People” and there’s a lot of We, African Americans, on tap to present including a keynote presentation of former first lady Michelle Obama.
America is facing a series of monumental challenges—as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its rampage, tens of millions of people are out of work, and our nation confronts a legacy of racial injustice that has marginalized too many. But as we have learned throughout our history, when we stand united, we can overcome anything.
Tonight the nation will hear from the many Americans who are rising up to take on these three crises, and who will join Joe Biden in building back better and moving this country forward. With Joe Biden as president, ‘we the people’ will mean all the people.
You can tune in every night this week from 8 tp 10 p.m. Highlights from tonight’s program (Mon., Aug. 17) are listed below, with additional special guests slated to join throughout the evening:
WE THE PEOPLE
“We the People” Gavel In
Everyday Americans will read the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, before Convention Chair and The Honorable Bennie Thompson officially gavels in the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Call to Order
The Honorable Bennie Thompson
Permanent Chair of the 2020 Democratic National Convention
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Mississippi
Pledge of Allegiance
A multicultural choir performing virtually with singers representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Cheyenne Nation and five territories, including Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Reverend Gabriel Salguero
President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition
Co-lead pastor of The Lamb’s Church in New York, New York
The Honorable Gwen Moore
Sergeant-at-Arms of the 2020 Democratic National Convention
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Wisconsin
WE THE PEOPLE DEMANDING RACIAL JUSTICE
The Honorable Muriel Bowser
Mayor of Washington, D.C.
“The Path Forward”: A Conversation with Vice President Biden on Racial Justice
Vice President Biden engages with, and listens to, social justice activist Jamira Burley, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, and author Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, about how America can move forward towards equality, fairness, and justice for all.
The Honorable James Clyburn
House Democratic Whip
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, South Carolina
WE THE PEOPLE HELPING EACH OTHER THROUGH COVID-19
The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York
A woman whose father lost his life to COVID-19.
A Conversation with Healthcare Workers on the Front Lines
A conversation with a doctor, paramedic, and two nurses on the front lines of this pandemic about what they’ve endured, and what’s at stake in this election for America’s essential medical workers.
Introduction of Performer
The Honorable Sara Gideon
Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives
The Honorable Gretchen Whitmer
Governor of the State of Michigan
WE THE PEOPLE PUTTING COUNTRY OVER PARTY
The Honorable Christine Whitman
Former Governor of New Jersey
Former CEO of Hewlett Packard
The Honorable Susan Molinari
Former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, New York
The Honorable John Kasich
Former Governor of the State of Ohio
The Honorable Doug Jones
United States Senator, Alabama
The Honorable Catherine Cortez Masto
United States Senator, Nevada
The Honorable Amy Klobuchar
United States Senator, Minnesota
“United We Stand”
Former 2020 Democratic candidates for president of the United States will come together once again to talk about why they ran, what they’re fighting for, and why they believe Joe Biden will bring the nation together, move the nation out of crisis and chaos, and move us forward —featuring Vice Presidential Nominee and Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Jay Inslee, Senator Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Representative Seth Moulton, Former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, Tom Steyer, and Andrew Yang.
WE THE PEOPLE RECOVERING
The Honorable Cedric Richmond
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Louisiana
The Honorable Bernie Sanders
United States Senator, Vermont
WE THE PEOPLE RISE
Former First Lady of the United States
Billy Porter and Steven Stills
Reverend Dr. Jerry Young
18th President of the National Baptist Convention, USA
PREVIEW – The Associated Press
The Democratic Party will convene, sort of, amid a pandemic that has upended the usual pomp-and-circumstance of presidential nominating conventions.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez will be in Milwaukee, which he’d chosen as the 2020 convention host city. But presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, won’t be. Nor will the 57 state, territorial and international delegations, party activists and media hordes that would have filled a downtown arena to see Biden and Harris nominated to take on President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in November.
Instead, Democrats will put on essentially an all-virtual convention, broadcasting two hours of prime-time programming starting at 9 p.m. EST, much of it pre-taped, Monday through Thursday. No crowds. No hullabaloo. And no balloons.
What to watch on opening night Monday:
THE MESSAGE: The theme is deliberately vague, “We the People,” and the lineup doesn’t fit neatly into any box. Viewers will hear from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who finished second to Biden in the nominating contest, and Republican John Kasich, the former Ohio governor and 2016 primary rival to Trump. To underscore the gap: That’s a self-identified democratic socialist who wants a “political revolution” and a conservative Republican who was once a budget hawk in Congress and fought labor unions in the Ohio statehouse. And both will pitch for Biden.
That reflects a key reality of Biden’s candidacy: It’s always been more of a moral and competency case against Trump than about the particulars of Democrats’ policy fights. Hence his campaign pledges to “unify the country” and “restore the soul of the nation.” Yet Biden has spent the last several months trying to shore up relationships with the party’s left flank, which remains skeptical about him. He has a lengthy policy slate he touts as the most progressive of any modern Democratic nominee.
The convention’s opening night will test how seamlessly the Biden campaign can spend the next 78 days casting such a wide net across a splintered American electorate.
SANDERS’ TONE: The Vermont senator is a two-time runner-up for the nomination but by Biden’s own admission has done as much as any losing presidential candidate to shape a major political party. Four years ago, Sanders was at the microphone to nominate Hillary Clinton on the floor in Philadelphia, but the bitterness between their camps was apparent, and it wounded her against Trump.
There’s no convention floor to have a fight on this year. No way for viewers at home to hear delegates jeering at anyone on stage they dislike or disagree with. There are other key differences: Sanders and Biden are personally more friendly to each other than Clinton and Sanders were; Biden sewed up the nomination earlier, giving Sanders less leverage this year; and, of course, Trump isn’t a hypothetical president as he was in 2016. He is the president, and Sanders has made clear that he sees 2020 as an existential election for the country.
Given all that, the question becomes how Sanders balances his own ideological fervor — which highlights distinctions between himself and Biden — with his personal affinity for the nominee and their shared mission to defeat Trump.
OBAMA. NOT HIM. HER: Perhaps any intrigue about Sanders and Kasich will fall away once the evening’s headliner, Michelle Obama, makes her case. Polls suggest the former first lady is even more popular than her broadly popular husband, who will speak Wednesday night. She managed that, in part, by steering clear of the most obvious fault lines in politics. Remember her speech in Philadelphia four years ago. “When they go low, we go high,” she said, without even mentioning the caustic Republican nominee who years before had helped drive the lie that Barack Obama wasn’t constitutionally eligible to serve as president.
Days before the convention’s opening gavel, Trump recycled the same tactic against Harris, a daughter of immigrants who is the first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket and is also of Asian descent. In her case, Trump said he didn’t know if she was eligible but wasn’t pursuing the matter.
Michelle Obama is uniquely positioned to talk about Democratic ticket. She knows Biden and his wife, Jill, as genuine friends from Biden’s eight years as vice president. The Obamas also know Harris well, and Michelle Obama almost certainly will speak in personal terms about what it means to see a woman of color nominated for national office.
“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” she said at the 2016 convention, “and I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent Black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”
HOW TO WATCH: The convention will air from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time. The DNC will provide the official livestream online and on its social media channels. CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC and PBS will air the full two hours. ABC, CBS, Fox News Channel and NBC will air the final hour, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. The event also will be available via Twitch, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
RATINGS: Perez, the DNC chair, has promised an “inspiring” convention. But people must watch to be inspired, and no one knows what kind of audience will tune in. Conventions have declined in relevance for years. So, in one sense, the pandemic has given Democrats a license to experiment with what amounts to a slickly produced party infomercial. But lost are the rare big, even viral moments when a nominee, a party luminary or an up-and-comer, perhaps even veering off the teleprompter, makes a searing connection with both the party faithful in the arena and the millions watching at home.