Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a solid address on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, forcefully re-endorsing Joe Biden while honestly acknowledging their differences.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama followed with an impressive speech of her own, highlighting her frustration with the Trump administration, as well as the gravity and desperation of our current moment.
The most powerful speech of the DNC’s first night, however, came from someone most people watching had probably never heard of before Monday.
Kristin Urquiza, who lost her father to Covid-19, tells the DNC: “His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump. … When I cast my vote for Joe Biden, I will do it for my dad” https://t.co/x5wyquZ7sa pic.twitter.com/R3HnFctFzs
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 18, 2020
Kristin Urquiza, who lost her father to COVID-19, gave an emotional speech denouncing Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Urquiza described her dad as a Trump supporter who both voted for and listened to him for information about the virus. “My father was a healthy 64-year-old,” Urquiza said. “His only preexisting condition was believing Donald Trump.” You could hear the emotion in her voice as she read the prepared remarks—sadness, anger, palpable frustration. It was the kind of genuine moment that made the rest of the pomp around the virtual convention seem as meaningless as it truly was.
There were plenty of cringeworthy moments, from Eva Longoria’s (yes, the Desperate Housewives’ actress) faux-seriousness to Biden’s weird face panel forum. There were slightly awkward interviews with “regular” people, canned speeches from familiar politicians, and musical interludes that didn’t really make sense. There was a smattering of Republican voices that, when thrown together, wasn’t as terrible as the lead up made it seem—even despite John Kasich’s bizarre crossroads speech and his assurance to Republican voters that Biden wouldn’t veer too far left because he’s a reasonable man. (Side note: how many Republicans are watching this crap?)
Think I found the spot on Google Maps where John Kasich did his "crossroads" shot.
— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) August 18, 2020
Joe Biden is a moderate republican and moderate republicans know this https://t.co/8KJet6nkGu
— Secular Talk (@KyleKulinski) August 18, 2020
Combined, the whole ordeal played together like an overextended infomercial—which, at its core, is what a political convention truly is. Despite the weirdness, it worked for television because it’s always been made for television. Without the in-person audience, though, it becomes harder to feign authenticity. That’s what makes moments like Urquiza’s video stand out. Her emotions and sentiment couldn’t be faked or played down, regardless of whether it was pre-recorded, played in an arena with thousands of people watching, or broadcasted straight into viewers’ homes.
Sanders and Obama were memorable as the keynote speakers of the evening. Their speeches were immediately clipped and shared extensively on social media, from Sanders’ Nero comment to Obama’s “it is what it is.” Even despite their gravitas, no one captured the political moment better than Urquiza. Liberals and leftists alike love referring to Trump supporters as cultists. To many Democrats, Trumpists are indoctrinated sheep who care about the president’s insecurities and beefs more than actual facts. Urquiza lost a loved one to that cult mentality and the virus it politicized and helped spread. There’s no better person to call out Trump and his bullshit for exactly what it is.