There are many takeaways from this week’s Democratic National Convention. First, the experiment worked. Producing such a complex virtual gathering is an immense undertaking as anyone who has organized a simple zoom meeting can attest. This week’s virtual conference included scores of “scenes,” some performed live and some pre-recorded. So plaudits to the organizers, stage managers and video technicians who labored behind the scenes. The format actually allowed for a more intimate and inclusive experience and—hopefully—will recast the way we view such events post-pandemic.
Second, powerful voices were heard—from the brilliant eloquence of both Barack and Michelle Obama, to the inspirational moment when Gabby Giffords spoke, reminding us all of what true American resilience looks like: “I put one foot in front of the other. I’ve found one word and then I found another. My recovery is a daily fight, but fighting makes me stronger. Words once came easily. Today, I struggle to speak, but I have not lost my voice.”
And, on the 100th anniversary of passing the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, Kamala Harris became the first Black woman to be a major party candidate for Vice President. Especially on Wednesday, we witnessed the strength and commitment of so many women who are poised to shape the future of this country.
And there were others who do not hold office but whose lives were given voice at the convention: Kristin Urquiza told the moving story of her previously healthy father losing his fight to Covid-19 and 11-year old Estela Juarez told the heartbreaking saga of her Mom’s deportation. And then there was the courageous remarks by 13-year-old Brayden Harrington who had connected with Joe Biden over their shared struggles with stuttering.
The biggest takeaway for me, though, happened on the convention’s final evening as symbolized in Joe Biden’s acceptance speech. From his very first words, Biden used a symbol that is universally positive and deeply resonant with people of faith. He began by quoting civil rights legend, Ella Baker, “Give people light and they will find a way.” Drawing on his faith throughout the campaign, Biden infused images of light and darkness throughout his remarks, as both a challenge and a promise to the American people.
“The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division.” Biden’s counter message (the promise): “I will be an ally of the light not of the darkness…It’s a moment that calls for hope and light and love. Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another.”
In expressing the empathy for which he has become well know, Biden allowed, “Look, I understand how hard it is to have hope right now” and continued with the theme of light (the challenge) “We can choose the path of becoming angrier, less hopeful and more divided…Or we can choose a different path…A path of hope and light…(and, again, the promise)
“America’s history tells us that it has been in our darkest moments that we’ve made our greatest progress. That we’ve found the light. And in this dark moment, I believe we are poised to make great progress again. That we can find the light once more…For love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear. Light is more powerful than dark. May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight as love and hope and light joined in the battle for the soul of the nation.”