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The first night of the virtual Democratic National Convention aired last night with a primary focus on the COVID-19 crisis and how President Trump’s lack of leadership is claiming American lives. The night’s programming featured real people telling their stories of struggle and hardship, which gave the new format a unique feel with powerful personal anecdotes.
And while green groups had pushed the convention to make the climate crisis a central theme, the mentions of it were more understated by keynote speakers Senator Bernie Sanders and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Sanders’ primary message was to ensure the voters who voted for him in the primary election (who were largely drawn to his stance on climate action) that a vote for Joe Biden would also be a vote for progressive climate action. Sanders explained that,
Joe will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and fight the threat of climate change by transitioning us to 100 percent clean electricity over the next fifteen years. These initiatives will create millions of good paying jobs all across the country.
Meanwhile, Michelle Obama subtly enforced with her speech that Biden is someone progressives can entrust to deliver necessary commitments and work with all factions of the Democratic party to deliver climate action by stating,
He listens. He will tell the truth and trust science.
Joe Biden wants all of our kids to go to a good school, see a doctor when they’re sick, live on a healthy planet. And he’s got plans to make all of that happen.
Obama’s powerful speech reflected upon her husband’s presidency and a time when the United Stas was “respected around the world, rallying [its] allies to confront climate change” to illustrate how far off the course of normalcy we’ve veered with President Trump. On the same day that Trump announced he’d proceed to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge–one of the last remaining wilderness areas in the United States–the former First Lady’s speech enforced that the Trump path was not conducive to a liveable planet
Why This Matters: Climate change was nowhere near a primary focus of the convention on night 1 and it ultimately might be difficult for it to garner this type of attention at the event at a time when coronavirus has claimed 170,000 American lives. Young voters (who did not favor Joe Biden in the primary )have pushed for a climate focus at the convention, hopefully nights 2, 3, and 4 will find ways to highlight the Biden/Harris climate agenda (as it’s a good one!).
Sanders continues to make the case for a Biden presidency to his voters:
We need an unprecedented response to the crises we face—a movement, like never before, of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency—and against greed, oligarchy, and bigotry. And we need Joe Biden as our next president. #DemConvention
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