Live feeds for the remote Democratic National Convention are managed in a control room at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee on Monday. Pool Photo by Scott Olson/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A list of prominent Democrats called for new leadership Monday night to address a multitude of issues in the United States on the first night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
The convention, staged mostly remotely for the first time in its history, featured speakers during the prime-time portion that included former presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and a number of others.
The first night culminated with an address by former first lady Michelle Obama, who urged voters to make a change in leadership.
"Four years ago, too many people chose to believe that their votes didn't matter. Maybe they were fed up. Maybe they thought the outcome wouldn't be close. Maybe the barriers felt too steep," she said. "Whatever the reason, in the end, those choices sent someone to the Oval Office who lost the national popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.
"And we've all been living with the consequences."
Obama praised Joe Biden, who will officially clinch the Democratic nomination for president this week, for his work as vice president alongside her husband, former President Barack Obama. She called President Donald Trump "the wrong president for our country."
"A president's words have the power to move markets. They can start wars or broker peace. They can summon our better angels or awaken our worst instincts. You simply cannot fake your way through this job," she said.
"More than 150,000 people have died [of COVID-19], and our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long. It has left millions of people jobless. Too many have lost their healthcare. Too many are struggling to take care of basic necessities like food and rent. Too many communities have been left in the lurch to grapple with whether and how to open our schools safely.
"Internationally, we've turned our back, not just on agreements forged by my husband, but on alliances championed by presidents like [Ronald] Reagan and [Dwight D.] Eisenhower. And here at home, as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered, stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation's highest office."
Biden also received messages of support from former rivals in the race for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump in the Nov. 3 election.
"To everyone who supported other candidates in the primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake," Sanders said. "The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake.
"We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president. My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine."
Monday night's theme was "We the People" and promoted solutions for social and racial equality, the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, remembered his brother in a segment as a "selfless" man whose spirit was reflected in the protests that followed his death.
He said his brother, as well as Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson and Sandra Bland, should all still be alive today.
"It's up to us to carry on the fight for justice, our actions will be their legacies," he said.
"We must always find ourselves in what [late Georgia Rep.] John Lewis called 'good trouble,'" he added before leading a moment of silence for those who lost their lives to "hate and injustice."
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned Trump's decision to deploy federal law enforcement to disperse peaceful protesters near the city's St. John's Episcopal Church in June so the president could pose for a photo holding a Bible.
"I knew if he did this to D.C., he would do it to your city or your town and that's when I said 'enough,'" she said. "I said 'enough' for every Black and Brown American who has experienced injustice. 'Enough' for every American who believes in justice."
Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., delivered a message hailing Biden as a candidate capable of unifying the country amid ongoing injustices facing people of color.
"We will need a president who sees unifying people as a requirement of the job," he said. "A president who understands the true meaning of community -- and how to build it through trust and humility.
"And with so many families experiencing loss in this pandemic -- lost jobs, lost loved ones and lost confidence in the president to keep us safe -- we need a president who understands both profound loss and what it takes to bounce back."
Cuomo described how New York has been devastated by COVID-19 and how it has rebounded.
"For all the pain and all the tears, our way worked. And it was beautiful," he said.
"We showed that our better angels are strong and that Americans would rise to their call. We saw that even at the end of the day, even if it is a long day, that love wins."
Kristin Urquiza, an Arizona woman whose father was a Trump supporter, spoke about how he trusted the president and didn't take the pandemic seriously enough. He eventually was sickened by COVID-19 and died.
Urquiza, who pledged to vote for Biden, said her father's only pre-existing condition was "believing in Donald Trump."
Later in the evening, a group of Republicans, led by former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, pledged their support for Biden and criticized Trump's leadership.
Kasich, who appeared at a fork on a dirt road, said the United States is at a crossroads and described Biden as a "man for our time." He assured conservatives that the former vice president will not "turn sharp left and leave them behind" and warned of the dangers of keeping Trump in the White House for a second term.
"Many of us have been deeply concerned about the path we have been following for the past four years," he said. "Continuing to follow that path will have terrible consequences for America's soul, because we are being taken down the road by a president who has pitted one against the other."
The convention's second night on Tuesday will feature appearances and speeches from a prominent Democrats, including Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, former Secretary of State John Kerry and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The evening will conclude with addresses from former President Bill Clinton and Joe Biden's wife, Jill Biden.