This week the Democratic Party held the 2020 convention and nominated Joe Biden And Kamala Harris as their candidates for President and Vice President. The event was radically impacted by SARS-CoV-2 which continues to roll across the United States. Most of the event was virtual and a number of the speeches were pre-recorded.
What I come away with after watching a number of high profile speakers is a Democratic Party that is more united than at any time in memory. The party is United by its candidates, Joe Biden, by their conviction that the United States can overcome the virus and its other challenges and their deep disdain for Donald Trump and what has become of the Republican Party.
Speaker after speaker made the point that the virus has had a much worse impact in the United States and it did not have to be this way. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke about how New Yorkers came together and managed to defeat the virus but that the learnings from that fight were not rolled out across the nation. Cuomo made the point that a virus attacks and an organism particularly when it is weak. For him, a competent government the immune system that protects the body politic and he, like many others, puts the blame for the scale of the US situation on Trump and his administration.
Expanding on this theme, Barak Obama and others spoke about the work of government and how Trump has not stepped up to do it. Referring to Joe Biden, Bill Clinton said that he would “Go to work and deal with the facts”.
At IESE Business School we stress the idea of leadership as service to others and this was another theme that the Democrats hit on over and over again. Kamala Harris spoke about her own personal story and what drew her to public service in the first place. She quoted her own mother who said that “service to others gives life meaning & purpose”.
Perhaps the most blasting condemnation of Donald Trump came from Barak Obama who said that Trump never understood the responsibility that came with the office he holds and was incapable of stepping up to it.
The other main theme that comes from watching the speeches is that this election is a battle for the soul of the United States and will resonate for years and even generations to come. For the Democrats, the country is at an inflection point and will either come together and deal with its challenges or continue on the current path set by Donald Trump and what is left of the Republican party.
In my view, Joe Biden said it best at the end of his remarks. Speaking with passion, conviction, and confidence Biden said that “Love is more powerful than hate, hope is more powerful than fear, and light is more powerful than darkness.
I write this post 74 days before the presidential election and am encouraged by the unity and strength of the message given by the Democrats. While a Biden-Harris administration will certainly be more progressive on a number of issues including dealing with climate change, the most important aspect is not the policies it will pursue but the values it will hold dear.
In his remarks, Bernie Sanders went through a list of specific proposals that Biden has endorsed but also spoke about Biden’s commitment to justice, love, and compassion. Kamala Harris spoke about his resilience, empathy, decency, and belief that everybody counts.
My hope is that these messages not only get the people who normally agree with the Democrats out to vote in November but also get through to people who voted Republican in 2016.