by Nicole Silverio ’22
The Democratic and Republican National Conventions were held during the past two weeks, officially nominating former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump as the presidential nominees. The Democratic Convention, held virtually from Aug. 17-20, included speakers such as John Kasich and Michelle Obama. The Republican Convention, Aug. 24-27, featured speeches from key figures including Donald Trump, Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle.
It was evident during both the DNC and RNC that the two parties continue to clash on major issues, including race relations and law enforcement. The death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers on May 25 and subsequent nationwide protests demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutality were raised at both conventions. State Rep. Vernon Jones stated at the RNC, “Our police need more funding, not less—for frequent psychological examination, for nonlethal restraint technology, and for more de-escalation and use of force training. These are the common sense solutions that President Trump supports. True, sincere police reform.”
Meanwhile at the DNC, Philonese Floyd spoke of the tragic loss of his brother, George, as well as other victims of deadly encounters with police before observing a moment of silence. “George should be alive today. Breonna taylor should be alive today.Ahmaud Arbery should be alive today. Eric Garner should be alive today. Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland-they should all be alive today.” Joe Biden also had the opportunity to speak with Eric Garner’s mother during the DNC’s segment on racial justice.
In representing young conservatives, Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, stood at the podium in honor of President Trump. “Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization,” Kirk claimed. “[He] was elected to defend the American way of life. The American way of life means you follow the law, you work hard, you honor God, you raise your kids with strong values, and you work to create a civil society.” Kirk’s message emphasized putting traditional American values first.
Both conventions included memorable speeches. At the DNC, former First Lady Michelle Obama’s keynote speech “won the night,” according to the Washington Post. Meanwhile, Maximo Alvarez’s speech at the RNC was equally moving. A Cuban immigrant who escaped Fidel Castro’s communist regime, he explained, “I heard the promises of Fidel Castro, and I can never forget all those who grew up around me, who looked like me, who suffered, starved, and died because they believed those empty promises. They swallowed the communist poison pill.”
As expected, the messages from the conventions were like night and day. Many Democrats and even a handful of Republicans, the most well-known being Governor John Kasich (R-OH), spoke on the failures and incompetence of President Trump, urging Americans to elect Biden for president instead.
By the end of the conventions, both Biden and Trump accepted their nominations. Biden proclaimed, “United we can, and will, overcome this season of darkness in America. We’ll choose hope over fear, fact over fiction, fairness over privilege… This campaign isn’t just about votes, it’s about winning the heart and the soul of America.” President Trump gave his speech on the White House Lawn, declaring this election the most important election in American history. Alongside mentioning record prosperity in the economy, calling for unity amongst the American people, and describing his fight against COVID-19, Trump optimistically spoke of the future of the U.S. saying “We will rekindle faith in our values, new pride in our history, and a new spirit of unity that can only be realized through love for our great country.”