Democratic National Convention Day One: Michele Obama, Whitmer, among those who stress importance of healing the nation

The Democratic National Convention’s first day focused on three major issues -- the pandemic, the resulting economic crisis and the racial justice crisis.  A diverse lineup of speakers and guests including former First Lady Michele Obama, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, among others -- including many Republicans, front line workers and members of George Floyd’s family -- urged voters of all political persuasions to elect the ticket that will stand up for UAW members and their families while rebuilding America.

Whitmer, one of the women Biden considered for the No. 2 spot on the ticket before settling on Sen. Kamala Harris, spoke from UAW Local 652 in Lansing, Michigan, and said Americans learned the type of leadership that is essential when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. She cited the thousands of UAW members who quickly transitioned to manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilators.

“President Obama and Vice President Biden saved these autoworkers’ livelihoods,” Whitmer said, referencing the auto loans given to General Motors and Chrysler to keep them afloat during the Great Recession. “Then these workers did their part to save American lives. That’s the story of this great country. Action begets action. Progress begets progress. And when we work together – we can accomplish anything.”

Whitmer, popular in Michigan for her response to Covid-19, is expected to help the Biden ticket win Michigan, which President Trump won by 10,704 votes, his smallest margin of victory in the 2016 presidential contest.

Whitmer said the Biden-Harris ticket will bring the country back from the Covid-19 pandemic. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will lead by example,” she said. “It will be science – not politics or ego – that drives their decisions.”

Senator Sanders, Biden’s rival in the Democratic primaries, minced no words on the importance of the Nov. 3 election: “This election is the most important in the modern history of this country,” the Vermont lawmaker said. “This election is about preserving our democracy.”

In addition to 30 million Americans losing their jobs, “Millions of working families are worrying about how they will feed their kids and face eviction from their homes.”

A Biden-Harris administration will push for a $15 minimum wage, giving 40 million workers a pay raise. Biden will also push to make joining a union easier, Sanders added. He appealed to Biden’s national priorities including better health care, childcare access and rebuilding infrastructure. Sanders added that climate change will also be a priority.

“These initiatives will create good-paying jobs all across this country,” Sanders emphasized.

Michele Obama spoke at length about the kind of man Joe Biden is – one whose life is a testament to getting back up after difficulties and tragedies.

“He will govern as someone who has lived a life most of us can recognize,” she said.

The former first lady said Biden is someone who has empathy for ordinary Americans because he has “ ‘the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes.’

“It’s not a hard concept. It is what we teach our children,” she said.

Echoing one of her familiar themes, the former First Lady said, “When they go low, we go high. When we participate in some of the heated rhetoric and degrading others, we become part of the noise, not the solution.”

Michele Obama also noted the various methods being used to suppress the vote, stressing that the same passion and turnout for her husband’s election and re-election must be present in this election, despite the obstacles to voting that may appear.

“We have to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it,” she said.

Former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, spoke, saying Republicans should put America first and vote for Joe Biden, “a good man and a unifier.”

The one-time GOP Presidential Candidate said that continuing to follow the same path the country is on now will have terrible consequences for America’s soul. “What we do know is we can do better than what we are seeing today, for sure,” Kasich said in reaching out to fellow conservatives.