MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin -- Democrats opened their mostly virtual convention in Milwaukee Monday evening under the theme of unity, with speakers who represented both the party's progressive and traditional platforms.
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Usually, political conventions are painstakingly choreographed live productions that are planned years in advance. But the coronavirus pandemic has reduced the nominating celebration to a minimal footprint in Milwaukee.
Former first lady Michelle Obama was the keynote speaker of the first night, after remaining mostly on the sidelines throughout the 2020 political season. (You can watch her entire remarks in the video player at the top of this article.)
She warned that things could get worse under a second Donald Trump presidency, saying people should vote like their lives depend on it.
Mrs. Obama gave a passionate speech on the first night of the convention and addressed Trump directly.
She said, “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”
Mrs. Obama also added, “If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can, and they will if we don’t make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the former rival of presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden, also spoke on night one.
Sanders unleashed a scathing attack on Trump, suggesting that under him “authoritarianism has taken root in our country.”
The Vermont senator said Trump had proved incapable of controlling the coronavirus outbreak, coping with the economic fallout and addressing institutional racism in the United States and climate change threatening the globe.
“Nero fiddled while Rome burned,” Sanders said. “Trump golfs.”
Sanders, who finished second in the Democratic primary behind Biden, struck a more optimistic tone when he thanked supporters who voted for him in 2016 and 2020 for helping to move the country “in a bold, new direction.”
He called on his backers, as well as those who supported other 2020 Democratic primary contenders or Trump four years ago, to unite behind Biden.
Sanders says, “My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine.”