Tonight, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) brought some Nevada energy to the already jam-packed lineup for the first night of the Democratic National Convention. And closer to home, her own predecessor, former U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D), cheered her on and chatted with local party activists during a virtual watch party.
“In a few short years, [Donald Trump] will go down in history as the worst president we’ve ever had. That says a lot.”
– Harry Reid
Earlier tonight Harry Reid, Rep. Dina Titus, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford (D), and Assembly Member William McCurdy II (D-Las Vegas) hosted a virtual watch party for the first night of the Democratic National Convention. When Reid kicked off the “Nevada pre-game show” on Zoom, he didn’t hold back in his assessment of President Donald Trump: “In a few short years, he will go down in history as the worst president we’ve ever had. That says a lot.”
Reid continued, “We don’t have a pandemic plan because Trump is not a leader.” Staying on the critical matter of health care, Reid noted, “What [Trump] has done is do everything to get rid of [Obamacare], then lie about it. […] He doesn’t have a health care plan. He just belittles the work of the courageous people who’ve done something about it.”
However, Reid wasn’t all negative. On Joe Biden, Reid said, “We are so fortunate to have Joe Biden. […] He is a man who went through the trials of life and held up very well.” He continued, “Joe Biden is someone we can depend on. He’s tried and true. […] What a team: Biden and [Kamala] Harris.”
“Protest is part of the process, and the process leads to progress.”
– Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford
After Reid hit Trump on health care, McCurdy and Ford hit Trump on civil rights. Ford specifically cited Trump’s history of housing discrimination in the 1970’s, his call in 1989 to execute the “Central Park Five” who were ultimately exonerated of their wrongful conviction, his embrace of the former Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R), and his “fine people on both sides” assessment of the violence in Charlottesville (Virginia) in 2017 as examples of Trump’s racism.
After he endorsed the calls to “eradicate all forms of systemic racism”, Ford contrasted Trump’s and the Republican Party’s attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement with these words of encouragement: “Protest is part of the process, and the process leads to progress.” He then declared that with Biden, “He knows we must put the justice in criminal justice. […] As president, he will act on meaningful criminal justice reform and take action on the systemic racism that still affects the country.”
Once Ford turned the virtual podium to Titus, she gave the Nevada Democratic audience a little pep talk: “We shouldn’t just agonize. We should organize to get through this.” She encouraged them to continue volunteering with the campaign to ensure that Democrats “win big” and make it harder for Trump to dispute the results should he lose. She then reminded the audience, “We’re in this together. We’ll pull through this together.”
“Mr. President: Nevada is not intimidated by you. America is not intimidated by you. We are united by shared values, shared history, and shared rights—including our fundamental right to vote.”
– U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
During the opening hour of the Democratic National Convention, the party focused on the dual crises of a pandemic that Trump allowed to spin out of control and racial injustice that Trump has decided to exacerbate. Biden himself led a discussion on the future of policing. George Floyd’s family led a moment to honor him and other victims of police brutality. And soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe led a conversation with health care workers on the state of America suffering under COVID-19.
A little later, Cortez Masto used her time in the national spotlight to highlight another critical matter: that of voting rights and election protection. More specifically, she put to rest Donald Trump’s recent fear-mongering over AB 4 and voting by mail: “Despite what the president says, voting by mail has been a secure, proven option for decades: in 2016, 33 million Americans voted by mail. Even Donald Trump has requested an absentee ballot twice this year.”
She continued, “He has challenged us with a meritless lawsuit that even our Republican Secretary of State has asked the court to dismiss, and now he is putting Nevada seniors’ lives at risk by defunding the post office.” And then, Cortez Masto added, “Mr. President: Nevada is not intimidated by you. America is not intimidated by you. We are united by shared values, shared history, and shared rights—including our fundamental right to vote.”
And finally, some notes on how I’ve been viewing DNC Night #1
Kristin Urquiza speaks about her father who died from COVID-19: "My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life." #DemConvention pic.twitter.com/NpyHCvSnpM
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 18, 2020
— Andrea Chalupa (@AndreaChalupa) August 18, 2020
There’s no way to beat around this bush: The convention so far has been unlike any others I’ve watched before. Not only is it different for the lack of a live audience and a central gathering point, but it’s also different for placing former Ohio Governor John Kasich (R), current U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman (R), current U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), and former First Lady Michelle Obama along with many more Americans from various walks of life on the same night of programming.
But then again, there’s something strangely refreshing about witnessing all the pomp and circumstance stripped out, and in assessing what national party conventions have largely become in the 21st century: A really long campaign infomercial.
Sure, the speech deliveries were a bit awkward at times. But overall, the logistics and the messaging were close to the best Biden and his campaign could realistically expect for a “convention done with social distancing”. And if Night #1 is a preview of what’s to come in the next three days, then at least this will make for easier TV viewing than so much of what we had to watch earlier this campaign cycle.