From August 17-20th, 2020, the Democrats held their Democratic National Convention, where they officially nominated Joe Biden for President and Kamala Harris for Vice President. They also used the convention as a platform to appeal Republicans, Progressives, religious, and family voters.
Throughout the entire event, they talked about healthcare, gun control, abortion, religion, family, voting, civil rights, and more. The convention tried to appeal to specific groups like religious people and family voters. However, some may say the Democrats failed to appeal to voters outside their loyal base.
First off, the convention tried to appeal to religious people because President Trump’s base is composed of mainly Evangelical Christians. Therefore, the Democrats attempted to chip away at that base by giving air time to pastors, priests, and nuns. These various religious figures expressed their support for Biden because Biden is a strong Roman Catholic. Some may argue that when Kennedy ran in the 1960s, his Catholic background was seen as a negative aspect of his campaign. However, since then, the country has generally accepted Catholics in politics. For example, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and the majority of the current nine Supreme Court Judges are all Catholic.
Yet, to appeal to religious people, abortion needs to be addressed. Since the national legalization of abortion in the 1973 Roe V. Wade Supreme Court decision, religious people have been staunch pro-life activists and have remained unconvinced that Biden has the correct position on abortion. According to a recent Gallup poll, 72% of people who attend weekly religious services are pro-life. Furthermore, 56% of Christians and 55% of Catholics are pro-life.
Biden has openly stated he believes abortion is morally wrong but legally justified. He has flipped his position on Roe V. Wade and the Hyde Amendment, which bars giving federal tax dollars to abortion clinics. Unless Biden becomes pro-life again, he will most likely not gain the religious vote.
The other appeal the Democrats tried to make was to the Republicans, which was a little bit more successful than their religious appeal. They feature a few Republicans such as Former Governor of Ohio John Kasich who voted for Trump in 2016 but is now voting for Biden in 2020. I still thought that was an ineffective strategy to get the conservative vote because the people they brought on were obvious political minorities. However, the DNC highlighted the relationship between John McCain and Biden through videos and pictures of the two creating legislation and debating, which may have appealed to some conservatives because McCain was arguably a staunch conservative.
The truth most modern-day Republicans do not want to admit is that the Republican party has been becoming less conservative since they nominated Trump. Even so, Trump has arguably been the most conservative President since H.W. or Reagan, but he has constantly advocated for government overreach, isolationist foreign policy, and overt nationalism in the opinion of his critics. Trotting out McCain as an ally of Biden may have appealed to some right of center Republicans because he represented a Republican party that was truly conservative.
Conservatives will also remember John McCain and Trump are two sides of the Republican party coin. McCain represented a traditional conservative viewpoint on economics and foreign policy, with the exception of healthcare, and Trump represents his own growing ideology that is a mix of liberalism, republicanism, and libertarianism.
While it is obvious that Biden is significantly more liberal than Trump on basically every major policy, highlighting Biden’s ability to work with the late conservative giant may have suggested Biden will bring conservatives to the table and at least listen to opinions that contradict his own. While it is somewhat optimistic of a conservative to think that, it could be just enough to push Republicans who long for a return to cooperation between the major parties over the edge.
The last major appeal the DNC tried to make was to Progressives, which was mediocre in its attempt. The problem with Democrats appealing to Progressives is that there has been some dicey history between the two factions within the party. First off, some Progressives felt the Democratic nomination was stolen from Bernie Sanders by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Since Clinton lost the general election, there was major criticism from the Progressives, which led them to ask, “What if Sanders was the nominee?”
Then in 2020, Sanders supporters once again thought the nomination was stolen from him. In the beginning, it was believed that Sanders would win the nomination easily because he won major democratic caucuses like New Hampshire while Biden did horribly. However, when Biden won the South Caroline primary, every single major candidate dropped out and endorsed Biden. Through this consolidation behind Biden, Sanders was decimated on Super Tuesday and the following primaries.
If Biden were to lose this election, there would be a reignited division between moderate Democrats and the Progressive wing of the party, represented by people like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
In reality, the only people the Democrats may have successfully appealed to were voters with family values. One of the few things the DNC succeeded in doing was painting Biden as a charismatic family man who cares deeply about his children and grandchildren. Furthermore, one of the best speeches in the entire convention was from Jill Biden who was effective in being seen as a loving and accomplished mother. This role and visage will attract the suburban housewife vote.
To add on, Trump is the literal opposite of Biden when it comes to family. Granted, Trump can say he also cares about his children and grandchildren, but his history shows he has neglected the importance of marriage due to his repeated infidelity. In 2016, Clinton’s marriage may have turned off suburban housewives, but this time, it may be Trump’s past that will convince white suburban housewives to vote for Biden.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of this convention was the fact that it barely covered issues that many voters deeply care about, such as gun control and climate change. Even when they talked about gun control and climate change, they did not showcase climate scientists or political analysts to discuss a gun buyback. Rather, they brought up climate activists such as the 15-year-old climate activist named Alexandria Villaseñor, or stories of how they were affected by issues .
This continuous trend of bringing in various people to tell their accounts might get the vote of a few, but it will not be appealing to the many who are worried about the threat of climate change. While there was a mention of green energy, they did not talk about cost, implementation, or even general policy description. This is a problem because these national conventions are a platform for respected parties to show why they should be voted over the other party.
Overall, the main objective of the convention should have been convincing voters that Biden is better than Trump. However, many speakers did not make the case for Biden and instead used their sixty seconds to bash Trump. This paints Democrats in a concerning light because their campaign slogan seems to be “At least we are not Trump,” which is not a particularly strong message to run on and may not be enough for moderates to vote for Biden.