Politics

The Five Biggest Moments from DNC Night 2

The surreal nature of the virtual proceedings this week did not fade on the second night of the Democratic National Convention.

But it became clear that, for all that’s lost in the absence of an in-person convention, some things are gained: The roll call vote, normally a raucous but somewhat tedious affair, was transformed into a montage of the vast geographical and cultural diversity of America.

Here is a look at some of the moments that stood out.

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Joe Biden ‘Does It for You,’ Jill Biden Says

Jill Biden told the Democratic National Convention about her husband’s strong faith and purpose and the means of healing in hardship.

I hear it from so many of you: the frustration of parents juggling work while they support their children’s learning, or are afraid that their kids might get sick from school. The concern of every person working without enough protection. The despair in the lines that stretch out before food banks. We found that love holds a family together. Love makes us flexible and resilient. It allows us to become more than ourselves, together. And though it can’t protect us from the sorrows of life, it gives us refuge, a home. How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole: with love and understanding and with small acts of kindness, with bravery, with unwavering faith. He does it for you: Joe’s purpose has always driven him forward. His strength of will is unstoppable and his faith is unshakable, because it’s not in politicians or political parties or even in himself. It’s in the providence of God. His faith is in you.

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Jill Biden told the Democratic National Convention about her husband’s strong faith and purpose and the means of healing in hardship.

Jill Biden, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s wife, delivered her speech from a classroom at Brandywine High School in Delaware, where she used to teach.

She began by describing the silences that Americans have come to know during the coronavirus pandemic. The silence of an empty classroom that should be filled with students. The silence of a hospital room after a ventilator has been turned off.

Then she turned to resilience, a theme of Mr. Biden’s life and of his campaign message. She spoke about meeting Mr. Biden after his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident, and about not knowing how to “make a broken family whole.” She spoke, too, in wrenching detail, about the couple’s grief after Mr. Biden’s son Beau died of brain cancer.

“Four days after Beau’s funeral, I watched Joe shave and put on his suit,” Dr. Biden said. “I saw him steel himself in the mirror, take a breath, put his shoulders back and walk out into a world empty of our son. He went back to work. That’s just who he is.”

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And she drew a parallel between making a broken family whole and making a nation whole after a devastating pandemic and an economic collapse: “You show up for each other, in big ways and small ones, again and again,” she said.

“There are those who want to tell us that our country is hopelessly divided, that our differences are irreconcilable,” she said, coming back neatly to the theme that dominated the night — a return to “normality” and to what the Biden campaign has long presented as a bygone era of bipartisanship. “But that’s not what I’ve seen over these months.”

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‘The Future of Our Democracy Is at Stake,’ Sally Yates Says

Sally Yates, a former acting attorney general, spoke to the Democratic National Convention about the flaws she sees in President Trump while endorsing Joe Biden.

Speaking at a political convention is something I never expected to be doing, but the future of our democracy is at stake. I’m here in my hometown of Atlanta, where as a young lawyer I joined our nation’s Justice Department. For nearly 30 years, through Democratic and Republican administrations, I worked alongside my D.O.J. colleagues to advance our nation’s promise of equal justice. But from the moment President Trump took office, he’s used his position to benefit himself rather than our country. He’s trampled the rule of law, trying to weaponize our Justice Department to attack his enemies and protect his friends. Rather than standing up to Vladimir Putin, he fawns over a dictator who is still trying to interfere in our elections. He’s even trying to sabotage our Postal Service, to keep people from being able to vote. His constant attacks on the F.B.I., the free press, inspectors general, federal judges, they all have one purpose: to remove any check on his abuse of power. Put simply, he treats our country like it’s his family business — this time, bankrupting our nation’s moral authority at home and abroad. But our country doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to all of us. Joe Biden embraces that. He has spent his entire life putting our country first.

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Sally Yates, a former acting attorney general, spoke to the Democratic National Convention about the flaws she sees in President Trump while endorsing Joe Biden.

A large portion of the night was dedicated to what one might describe as the “Remember When Things Were Normal?” segment.

Former President Jimmy Carter, who left office nearly 40 years ago, spoke briefly off camera, and former President Bill Clinton said Mr. Biden was “committed to building America back again.” A video described Mr. Biden’s across-the-aisle friendship with Senator John McCain, who died in 2018. John Kerry, the former secretary of state and 2004 Democratic nominee for president, painted a picture of stability under the Obama-Biden administration.

And Sally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general, called viewers’ attention implicitly to calmer times by listing the norms President Trump had broken before and after he fired her for refusing to defend his ban on travel from several Muslim countries.

“His constant attacks on the F.B.I., the free press, inspectors general, federal judges — they all have one purpose, to remove any check on his abuse of power,” she said. “Put simply, he treats our country like it’s his family business — this time bankrupting our nation’s moral authority at home and abroad. But our country doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to all of us.”

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Ady Barkan on Health Care System’s ‘Tragic Consequences’

Ady Barkan, a progressive activist who became a champion for single-payer health care after receiving a diagnosis of A.L.S. in 2016, spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

Hello, America. My name is Ady Barkan, and I am speaking to you through this computer voice because I have been paralyzed by a mysterious illness called A.L.S. Like so many of you, I have experienced the ways our health care system is fundamentally broken: enormous costs, denied claims, dehumanizing treatment when we are most in need. Since my shocking diagnosis, I have traveled the country meeting countless patients like me, demanding more of our representatives in our democracy. Today we are witnessing the tragic consequences of our failing health care system. In the midst of a pandemic, nearly 100 million Americans do not have sufficient health insurance, and even good insurance does not cover essential needs like long term care. Our loved ones are dying in unsafe nursing homes, our nurses are overwhelmed and unprotected, and our essential workers are treated as dispensable. We live in the richest country in history, and yet we do not guarantee this most basic human right. Everyone living in America should get the health care they need, regardless of their employment status or ability to pay. Even during this terrible crisis, Donald Trump and Republican politicians are trying to take away millions of people’s health insurance. With the existential threat of another four years of this president, we all have a profound obligation to act — not only to vote, but to make sure that our friends, family and neighbors vote as well. We must elect Joe Biden. Each of us must be a hero for our communities, for our country. And then, with a compassionate and intelligent president, we must act together and put on his desk a bill that guarantees us all the health care we deserve.

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Ady Barkan, a progressive activist who became a champion for single-payer health care after receiving a diagnosis of A.L.S. in 2016, spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

One of the most emotionally resonant moments of the night — one that would have been impossible in a packed arena in normal times — involved Mr. Biden speaking via video with several Americans who had dealt with or were dealing with health challenges.

It was accompanied by a segment on Ady Barkan, an activist who has campaigned fiercely for “Medicare for all” since learning he has A.L.S. The segment included footage that Mr. Barkan recorded for his young son when he was still able to speak without assistance, as well as a new message that he recorded using a computer.

These discussions were a chance for Mr. Biden to display one of his strongest qualities: empathy. It was also a chance to emphasize an issue that served Democrats well in the midterm elections: health care.

Through its focus on Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the segment implicitly highlighted the ideological differences between Mr. Biden and the progressive wing of the party — it was about preserving the Obama administration’s gains rather than exchanging the health law for Medicare for all.

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‘A Better, More Just Future,’ Ocasio-Cortez Says

On the second night of the Democratic National Convention, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez symbolically nominated Bernie Sanders for president.

Good evening, bienvenidos and thank you to everyone here today endeavoring towards a better, more just future for our country and our world. In fidelity and gratitude to a mass people’s movement working to establish 21st century social, economic and human rights, including guaranteed health care, higher education, living wages and labor rights for all people in the United States; a movement striving to recognize and repair the wounds of racial injustice, colonization, misogyny and homophobia, and to propose and build reimagined systems of immigration and foreign policy that turn away from the violence and xenophobia of our past; a movement that realizes the unsustainable brutality of an economy that rewards explosive inequalities of wealth for the few at the expense of long-term stability for the many; and who organized a historic, grass-roots campaign to reclaim our democracy. In a time when millions of people in the United States are looking for deep, systemic solutions to our crises of mass evictions, unemployment and lack of health care; en el espíritu del pueblo, and out of a love for all people, I hereby second the nomination of Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont for president of the United States of America.

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On the second night of the Democratic National Convention, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez symbolically nominated Bernie Sanders for president.CreditCredit…Democratic National Convention

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent progressives, gave a symbolic speech nominating Senator Bernie Sanders, the runner-up in the Democratic primary race.

She said she was doing so in “fidelity to a mass people’s movement working to establish 21st-century social, economic and human rights, including guaranteed health care, higher education, living wages and labor rights for all people in the United States.”

And a security guard at The New York Times, whose brief exchange last year with the former vice president went viral — she told him that she loved him in a Times elevator — nominated Mr. Biden. No, the elevator she was shown standing in front of on Tuesday night was not in the Times building.

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Democrats Nominate Biden in Coast-to-Coast Virtual Roll Call

On the second night of the Democratic National Convention, states called the roll to nominate Joseph R. Biden Jr. for the presidency.

“Alaska casts seven votes for Bernie Sanders and 12 votes for the next president, Joe Biden.” “California, home to our next vice president, Kamala Harris, casts 231 votes for Bernie Sanders and 263 votes for our next president, Joe Biden.” “Indiana casts two votes for my friend Bernie Sanders and 86 votes for the next president, Joe Biden.” “Kansas, the Sunflower State, proudly casts 10 votes for Bernie Sanders and 35 votes for our next president, Joe Biden.” “Montana casts one vote for Bernie Sanders and 18 votes for our next president, Joe Biden.” “New Mexico proudly casts four votes for Bernie Sanders and 42 votes for the next president of the United States of America, Joe Biden.” “North Carolina casts 39 votes for Bernie Sanders and 83 votes for the next president of the United States, Joe Biden.” “The Northern Mariana Islands is proud to cast two votes for Senator Bernie Sanders and nine votes for our next president, Joseph Biden.” “The calamari comeback state of Rhode Island casts one vote for Bernie Sanders and 34 votes for the next president, Joe Biden.” “Tennessee casts 23 votes for Bernie Sanders and 50 votes for our next president of the United States, Mr. Joseph R. Biden!” “Fifteen votes for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and nine votes for the next president of the United States, Joe Biden.” “Delaware is proud to cast its 32 votes for our favorite son and our next president —” “— our friend, Delaware’s Joe Biden.” [music, “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang] [laughing] “All right!”

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On the second night of the Democratic National Convention, states called the roll to nominate Joseph R. Biden Jr. for the presidency.CreditCredit…Democratic National Convention, via Associated Press

Normally, the roll call at a party convention — the series of votes, state by state, that finalize the nomination — is a raucous affair on the floor of the hall, full of state-specific regalia and frequently interrupted by long rounds of cheering.

This one was just a little different.

Through a series of video clips, viewers saw the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.; the giant saguaros of Arizona; Mr. Biden’s childhood home in Scranton, Pa.; and the Amtrak station named after him in Wilmington, Del.

Against the backdrop of a cornfield, they saw Tom Vilsack, the former agriculture secretary, and his wife, Christie Vilsack, call attention to the storm that devastated Iowa last week. They saw the parents of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man who was murdered in Wyoming in 1998. They also saw Rhode Island being, well, very Rhode Island, with a prominently displayed plate of fried calamari.

And at the end of it all, Mr. Biden got to drop “presumptive” from his title. It’s official: He is now the Democratic nominee for president.

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