New York is suffering from the results of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the state’s deficit expected to skyrocket to $63 billion over the next four years. Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo is getting a $25,000 pay raise.
His salary will jump from $225,000 to $250,000. He will be the highest-paid governor in the country.
“More than one million residents are out of work, and the unemployment rate is nearly double the national average,” The New York Times reported about New York state at the end of October.
While Cuomo will be getting his raise, along with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli — all Democrats — New York legislators, judges, and commissioners are not entitled to any additional money. According to a Commission on Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Compensation (CLJEC) panel, they decided on Monday that there was not room in the state’s budget for that. This decision can be overturned by the state legislature, but it is highly unlikely.
“The commission is composed of appointees of the chief judge of New York, the state Senate, Assembly, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo,” Spectrum News noted.
CLJEC wrote, “Granting raises to public servants, no matter how much they might otherwise deserve them, is simply not possible at this time.”
“The base salary for New York’s 213 lawmakers is currently set at $110,000, plus a per diem for each day they spend at the Capitol in Albany,” The Daily Mail noted. “The salary for judges is varied based on their bench, with state Supreme Court judges making about $210,000.”
Cuomo’s raise was approved last year by the state Senate and Assembly.
On Tuesday, Cuomo asked the federal government for more money, stating, “We don’t have a shovel big enough to dig out of [the deficit]. It’s the biggest number in history. We need help from Washington … Biden ran, and I know him and I supported and he’s a good man – he will fund state and local governments and we need that to come even close to balancing the budget.”
The CLJEC panel echoed, “’We understand the potential for significant budget cuts may be necessary at the state executive level as well if the federal government does not enact additional funding to address the economic hardship caused by COVID-19. Substantial additional state monies will be needed to deal with the pandemic, including providing face masks, virus tracking, contact tracing, enforcement efforts, and distribution of the hoped for new pandemic vaccine. Simply put the commissioners’ worst fears as articulated in the 2019 Report — a downturn in the state’s finances coupled with an inability to cover increased salary obligations — has unfortunately come to stark reality in the worst possible way.”
MarketWatch reported at the end of July: “The city — an early epicenter of the outbreak that has now become one of the cities with the fewest cases in the U.S. — saw a roughly 90% decline in visitors during the last quarter of fiscal year 2020, which ended June 30, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a recent interview with MarketWatch. That amounted to an estimated loss of $270 million in hotel taxes, in addition to another $250 million in other tourism-related sales tax revenue during that period, Stringer said.”
Liberals are urging voters to move to Georgia to vote in the January Senate runoff elections. But they may want to think twice. Moving to Georgia for a short time just to vote is against state law.
How long a new arrival has to stay in the state without breaking the law is not clear, according to reports. This week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declined to support fellow Republicans’ push for a special session to make voting rules more strict ahead of the runoff elections, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“I hope everybody moves to Georgia, you know, in the next month or two, registers to vote and votes for these two Democratic senators,” New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman told CNN on Monday night.
“These run-offs will decide which party controls the Senate, and this, whether we’ll have any hope of a large stimulus/climate bill. If you have the means and fervor to make a temporary move to GA, believe anyone who registers by Dec 7 can vote in these elections,” Intelligencer’s Eric Levitz wrote in a now-deleted tweet that was captured by Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy.
Such suggestions come as the battle for power in the Senate hinges on two runoff elections in Georgia, where the Republican incumbents are fighting to stay in office.
“I’ve seen people saying they’ll move to Georgia, but it’s a lot more difficult than they think,” Eddie Zipperer, assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College, said. “It would be very dangerous and, ultimately, I presume, not worth it.”
“You would have to set up a residence with your name on it, receive utility bills with your name on it. … All just to get a Georgia license,” Zipperer said. “It would make more sense for people to donate to the campaign.”
Politicians and celebrities are expected to converge on Georgia to turn out the vote.
“My understanding, I learned last night, is they’re even inviting people to move here to come vote,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said at an event for Senator Kelly Loeffler in Georgia on Wednesday, His statement prompted boos from the crowd.
One-time presidential hopeful Andrew Yang said he would move to Georgia to push for Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
“Great news #yanggang – Evelyn and I are moving to Georgia to help Ossoff and Reverend Warnock win!” Yang wrote on Twitter. “This is our only chance to clear Mitch [McConnell] out of the way and help Joe [Biden] and Kamala [Harris] get things done in the next 4 years. More details to come but let’s go!!!”
Yang did not address whether he’ll register to vote in Georgia.
North Carolina’s Senate contest just made history as the most expensive Senate race ever, with more than $230 million spent on advertising alone. But the Georgia races could blow that out of the water, Zipperer said.
“What’s going to pose the biggest problem is going to be all manner of outside money coming in,” he said. “If I were a Republican, I’d be much more concerned about outside money coming in than outside people coming in.”
Both conservative and liberal groups are announcing big spending in Georgia.
Conservative Super PAC Club for Growth Action announced Wednesday that it will spend at least $10 million there.
Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ organization, Fair Fight, has raised a whopping $9.8 million since Friday amid the runoff elections. Fair Fight confirmed the haul to Fox News and said the cash will be split three ways: the organization and both Democratic Senate candidates.
Longtime Republican pollster Frank Luntz says his industry is “done” after major forecasts were way off in projecting outcomes in the 2020 election.
As numbers continue rolling in for the race between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Luntz told Axios, “The political polling profession is done.”
He added, “It is devastating for my industry.”
National polls leading up to Election Day showed Biden held an advantage over Trump, but the two candidates were neck and neck out of the gate and remained in a heated battle. It is so close that lawsuits were already filed.
The Hill pointed out that “beyond the presidential election…many pollsters were projecting that Democrats would gain House seats and the Senate majority,” adding, “instead, it appears that Republicans will gain House seats and that the party has a strong chance of keeping control of the Senate.”
On Twitter, Luntz pointed out the fact that GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) was behind challenger Sara Gideon (D) in 14 major polls as Nov. 3 approached, but ended up winning by several points. He called the widespread inaccuracy “a systemic failure.”
‘My profession is done’
Nearly two weeks ago, Luntz told Fox News that if President Trump wins and defies the polls as he did in 2016, his “profession is done.”
“I hate to acknowledge it, because that’s my industry — at least partially — but the public will have no faith, no confidence.” Luntz told Fox News anchor Bret Baier. “Right now, the biggest issue is the trust deficit.”
He added, “Pollsters did not do a good job in 2016. So, if Donald Trump surprises people, if Joe Biden had a 5- or 6-point lead, my profession is done.”
Luntz issued an apology to fellow pollster John McLaughlin on Wednesday, saying McLaughlin beat “mainstream pollsters” with his predictions that Trump would have a strong showing in “key Rust Best states.”
Luntz had earlier said of McLaughlin’s projections: “I don’t believe it. But if he’s right, he’s a genius. If he’s wrong, I wonder if he’ll ever work again.”
During an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Luntz was asked if he was surprised by the outcomes of the election thus far.
“My single biggest surprise is not something that you guys have been talking about, which is that it looks like the Republicans will keep control of the Senate,” he replied.
“My second biggest surprise,” he continued, “is that the pollsters at CNN and a few other places have not apologized for the numbers that are completely wrong.”
President Joe Biden will wreck the economy. Are we talking about another depression like Trump says on the stump? Probably not, but it’s not going to be pretty.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board looked at the Biden agenda, analyzed its costs, and the conclusion is that this plan is only good if you want Trump gone. That’s about it. There will be tax increases.
The thing about Democrats wanting to only tax the rich is that they have these big government programs that will require taxes on the middle class and the working poor. I credit Bernie Sanders for one thing: honesty. He admitted that his single-payer, Medicare-for-All program would lead to tax increases. He was unapologetic. Joe Biden thinks he can make all his economic plans a reality by just taxing those who make $400,000 or more. It won’t work.
The Journal had a lengthier op-ed this time because they know the liberal media will bury the details. They also said that the economy is on the rebound and it’ll shoot up like a rocket ship once we have acquired a COVID vaccine. For the past few weeks, Trump’s message has been hitting Joe on his socialist agenda items, his mental clarity, and the booming economy. It writes itself. We’ve seen over 10 million new jobs in four months, half of the jobs lost due to China’s incompetence in handling COVID. The president’s message is, “re-elect me and I’ll finish it.” That should be the unified GOP line.
With “Bidenomics,” we see a median household income drop by $6,500 by 2030. So, let’s say Biden wins, Trump may be gone, but you’ll be poorer and dealing with tax increases. Oh, and Biden will have to offer something big to the green Left. It’ll probably increase the cost of American families’ energy bills, for sure. That’s a double-whammy—and something that’s especially lethal to the home budgets of fixed-income seniors (via WSJ):
The issue is whether Mr. Biden’s policies will nurture this strong recovery, or slow it down as Barack Obama’s policies did after the 2009 recession. This is where the Hoover study comes in, as it examines the Democrat’s proposals on health insurance, taxes, energy and regulation. The authors are economists Timothy Fitzgerald, Kevin Hassett, Cody Kallen and Casey Mulligan. Messrs. Hassett and Mulligan were members of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Trump White House, but then the boosters of Bidenomics are veterans of the Clinton-Obama Administrations.
Mr. Hassett has done pioneering work on the impact of corporate taxation and Mr. Mulligan of the University of Chicago on the impact of government subsidies that raise the marginal tax-rate barriers as workers try to climb the economic ladder. The 50-page Hoover study is valuable because it examines policies for their incentive and supply-side effects, rather than merely macroeconomic demand-side spending.
Overall, the authors estimate that the Biden agenda, if fully implemented, would reduce full-time equivalent employment per person by about 3%, the capital stock per person by some 15%, and real GDP per capita by more than 8%. Compared to Congressional Budget Office estimates for these variables in 2030, this means there would be 4.9 million fewer working Americans, $2.6 trillion less in GDP, and $6,500 less in median household income.
…consider Mr. Biden’s expansion of the Affordable Care Act and Medicare for those above age 60 (versus 65 now). These subsidies affect the incentive to work, and the authors estimate the ACA changes would increase the average marginal tax rate on labor by 2.4 percentage points. That’s nearly half as much as the six percentage points from the original ACA, which is part of the explanation for the agonizingly slow labor recovery in the Obama era.
Mr. Biden is also proposing substantial increases in business tax rates that will raise the cost of capital. The former Vice President likes to say he’d only raise the top corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%. But so-called pass-through entities (often small businesses) employ more than 40 million Americans, and most pay taxes at the individual tax rate.
“Biden’s plan to raise personal income and payroll tax rates would push their federal rates from below 40 percent to, often, above 50 percent, and these are on top of state income taxes,” the authors write.
There is much more in the Hoover study, especially on the costs of returning to Obama-style regulation. Most of the media will ignore it, which is why we thought we’d provide readers with more than usual detail.
This Thursday is the last presidential debate. Trump should be aggressive, yes, but also allow the former VP to talk. Joe will ramble and hang himself. When Trump responds, he should be laser-focused on the policy, with digs that this is the reason, besides Hunter Biden’s emails, that Joe hides in the basement.
A contractor in Jefferson County, Kentucky found 112 absentee ballots in a dumpster. This led to an investigation by federal authorities.
The ballots never made it to their intended recipients. They had not been opened or filled out. Special agents from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General said they also found two political fliers as they investigated the matter.
“When the investigation is concluded, the case will be presented for federal prosecution to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Special Agent Scott Balfour said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
Balfour said that the ballots and fliers were turned over to the Postal Service so they could be delivered. He noted that incidents such as this have been “exceedingly rare.”
According to Nore Ghibaudy, spokesman for the Jefferson County clerk’s office, voters who have not received absentee ballots by October 28 can vote in person at any polling site, as long as they sign an affidavit stating that they never received their absentee ballot.
The news comes days after two postal workers in Pennsylvania were charged with federal offenses as federal prosecutors said heaps of undelivered mail were discovered in the trash. While no ballots were found among the mail, two mail-in ballot requests were recovered.
In three battleground states, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, there have been efforts to begin counting absentee ballots before the end of Election Day. Almost all states do not start counting absentee ballots until the polls close in their states. But with the expected increase of mail-in ballots, the odds of counting all of them in a single night are close to zero.
There have been efforts to speed up the process by allowing officials to begin counting before Election Day. In Michigan, the Republican legislature decided to give election officials a 10-hour head start. Most observers say that still isn’t nearly enough time.
In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, similar efforts were met with no success. Election officials are facing the daunting task of having to open absentee ballot envelopes, verify the signatures (a process that will be challenged in court), and verify the bar codes. In many states, there is another safeguard for the ballot: a secrecy envelope that must be opened before the ballot can officially be counted.
This is going to happen one to two million times in some states starting on Election Day.
How many people are opening the ballots? How many are verifying the information? How many people are actually tabulating the ballots? And is it crazy to be concerned about fraud?
Republicans have seen this nightmare coming. That, along with depending on the USPS to deliver the ballots on time, have been the biggest concerns. But at this point, it appears nothing can be done.
In the past, states could afford to hand-count absentee ballots because there just weren’t that many of them. But with Democrats frightening millions of people into voting by mail, and lawyers lining up to challenge every rejected ballot, we may not get a decision in the presidential election before the December 6 legal deadline to resolve all election disputes.
If Democrats control Congress and the White House in 2021, will they pack the Supreme Court with additional progressive justices?
Following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the efforts of the Senate GOP majority to fill the vacancy, it may be the most important question facing Democrats in 2020.
It’s a question only a few Senate Democrats are willing to answer
Massachusetts senator Ed Markey tweeted on September 21: “This Republican hypocrisy is shameful but not surprising. If they violate their own precedent, we must expand the Supreme Court.” West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, told CNN on Sunday that he “can’t support” court-packing.
But most Democratic senators have made it clear they don’t want to reveal their intentions on court-packing until after the election. “What we need to do before we talk about what happens in the next session of Congress is for Democrats to win the presidency and a majority in the Senate,” Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal said last week when asked about court-packing.
Before voters go to the polls, should they get to know whether court-packing is likely or even on the table? “There are so many reasons to vote for Democrats now — that we need to focus on the pandemic,” replied Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “You know, we just passed 200,000 deaths. The president’s failure to deal with the pandemic and the public health and economic crises and his cruel and reckless indifference [are] costing lives.”
“No thoughts at the moment,” New Mexico Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich replied when asked about adding justices to the Court. “We have a job to do before we have that conversation.”
What if Biden wins?
California senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, dodged the question during an appearance on MSNBC on Monday night. “If Judge Barrett is confirmed and the Democrats have control of the Senate next year and the White House and the House of Representatives, should the Supreme Court be expanded?” MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell asked Harris. “You know, let’s, I think that — first of all — Joe has been very clear that he is going to pay attention to the fact, and I’m with him on this 1,000 percent — pay attention to the fact that right now, Lawrence, people are voting,” Harris replied. She said that the winner of the November presidential election should fill the current vacancy, but she never said a word about what a Biden-Harris administration would do on court-packing.
It’s not clear how likely court-packing would be if Democrats have unified control of Congress and the White House in 2021. It’s obviously more likely in a Senate with 54 Democrats than a Senate with 51 Democrats. If they are unwilling to say before the election that they will pack the courts, they will not be able to say in 2021 they have a mandate to do so. And it’s worth remembering that Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried and failed to pack the Court when Democrats held 76 out of 96 Senate seats and 334 out of 435 House seats. (The pressure did famously result in one justice’s beginning to rule favorably on the New Deal — the “switch in time saves nine.”)
If Democrats do add justices to the Court, it guarantees that Republicans would do the same the next time they control Congress and the White House. In October 2019, Joe Biden said: “I would not get into court-packing. We add three justices; next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the Court has at all.”
Asked again about court-packing on Sunday, Biden said: “I know you’re going to be upset with my answer. But what I’m not going to do is play the Trump game — which is a good game he plays — take your eye off the issue before us. If I were to say yes or no to that, that becomes a big issue.”
Given how transformative court-packing would be to our system of government, it’s not clear that Biden and Senate Democrats will be able to get away with that non-answer over the next month.
The close friendship between Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on the left, and Justice Antonin Scalia, on the right, was because they were reasoned even in their differences. They would apply logic, law and constitutionality in a more objective manner than the politicians who see differences as a basis for conflict.
This ability to reason together was evident in their discussions of legal briefs and opinions where they arrived at different conclusions. They would actually share their written opinions before publishing them – enabling them to point out weaknesses or other facts. In an odd sort of way, they would make each other’s written opinions stronger. They would engage in a game of judicial chess – looking to best each other while admiring the other’s abilities.
Ginsburg’s objectivity was seen in the debates over abortion. There can be no doubt of Ginsburg’s commitment to abortion as a fundamental right of a woman. But she could also see the constitutional weakness and vulnerability of Roe v. Wade. She was concerned that it could be overturned – not on her belief in the rights of a woman, but on the nature of the 1973 Supreme Court decision. Her judicial integrity trumped her political affiliation when she stated that Roe v. Wade was “poorly reasoned” and “too sweeping.”
Ginsburg’s concern was that the weakness of the decision could – and would – form the basis for overturning the decision on technical deficiencies unrelated to the moral issue of abortion, itself. She believed that it would take congressional action to strengthen the legal and constitutional case for abortion on demand.
Much is being reported on Ginsburg’s dying wish that it be the President inaugurated on January 20 who would nominate her replacement. Her personal wish, however, runs contrary to her belief that the power to nominate and confirm rests with the incumbent President and Senate. She specifically underscored in the past that there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent such action in an election year. She most recently expressed that opinion in conjunction with President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.
In the outrage over the possibility of President Trump picking a third justice of the Supreme Court, Democrats have resurrected their back-burner threat to increase the number of justices on the high court by as many as 6 to 8 new seats. Ginsburg has been consistent and staunch in her opposition to any such plan.
While it is true that the number of justices varied before 1869, there is a reason why the number has remained at nine for more than 150 years. Prior to 1869 Supreme Court justices traveled circuits. As the population increased, there needed to be more circuits – hence more judges. When justices no longer traveled the circuits – remaining in Washington full time — there was no further need to impanel more justices – and it would be prudent for Congress to send a constitutional amendment to the states locking that number in the Constitution.
In May of 2020 – just four months before her death – Ginsburg authored an opinion that aligned with conservative criticism of the activist and uber liberal Ninth District federal courts. She harshly criticized the Ninth District Appellate Court for violating “party representation” – a principle that requires the parties to any case to present the arguments. Not the court, itself.
In her Opinion, Ginsburg wrote that “… we rely on the parties to frame the issues for decision and assign to courts the role of neutral arbiter of matters the parties present. That principle forecloses the controlling role the Ninth Circuit took on in this case.”
She further noted that “the Ninth Circuit’s radical transformation of this case goes well beyond the pale.”
In a number of public appearances, her good friend Justice Scalia often noted that he and Ginsburg agreed much more often then they disagreed – although the disagreements were generally the higher profile cases.
While it is true that Ginsburg – as a liberal Democrat – had a personal desire to have a Democrat President select her successor, her legal opinion of the right of a President to nominate – and the Senate confirm – is not restricted by arguments regarding election years. And she would strongly oppose increasing the number of justices for any reason – especially political retaliation.
It would seem that for political reasons, Democrats and Trump-haters are mourning a woman of their own making – and not the lady who sat on the Supreme Court for 27 years.
So, there ‘tis.
The number of Republicans speaking at the Democratic National Convention had progressives on edge.
They shouldn’t have fretted. Even if a handful of estranged Republicans are along for the ride, the Left is steadily moving the Democratic Party in its direction. Would progressives prefer winning the optics at a virtual convention, or the substance over the longer term?
The Democratic Convention was, for the most part, bereft of policy, focusing instead on President Donald Trump’s character failings — rehearsed at length — and Joe Biden’s personal decency. Together with all of the speakers with a Republican pedigree, this reinforced Biden’s image of being more moderate than he is, which is perhaps his greatest political strength.
There is obviously no percentage in him running as the most progressive presidential nominee in a couple of generations. It’s much better for him to portray himself simply as a good guy whose tent is so broad it stretches from AOC to the former secretary of state for a Republican president many progressives think was guilty of war crimes.
It’s not as though Biden pulled from the Republican A-Team, though. At this point, it’d be shocking if Colin Powell didn’t endorse the Democratic candidate for president. Christine Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey, found former President George W. Bush too divisive for her taste. John Kasich, a Republican presidential candidate in 2016 and the two-term governor of Ohio, was more of a get, but still, if all of these figures were collectively asked to go build an audience of Republican voters, they probably couldn’t fill out a moderately sized Zoom call.
Then, Kasich was followed on the program by Bernie Sanders, who boasted to his supporters, and not unreasonably, “Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered ‘radical,’ are now mainstream.”
While Sanders excoriated Trump, he also focused, more than others, on Biden’s agenda and implicitly took credit for his embracing more far-reaching measures on issues ranging from the minimum wage to universal pre-K.
It is true that Biden has avoided the most extreme and easily attacked versions of progressive proposals, whether the “Green New Deal,” “Medicare for All,” or defunding the police. But Biden is to former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s left on most domestic questions. Bernie Sanders and others shifted the Overton window of Democratic politics, and Biden moved to stay smack in the middle of it.
The Biden campaign is, in this respect, trying to do what Hillary Clinton did four years ago, except even more so. As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat pointed out at the time, the Clinton campaign wanted to reach out to Republicans who couldn’t abide Trump, but gave them nothing of substance, and in fact ran to the left of where she’d been most of her career.
This approach probably has a better chance of working this time, since Biden isn’t as radioactive as Hillary, and Trump can’t run again as a take-a-flyer-on-me outsider.
If Biden can actually pull off tacking Bernie’s way on issues while running as a boring moderate, maybe he doesn’t get the credit for political canniness that he deserves.
Yet, this is an evasion that represents a major vulnerability. The question is whether the Trump campaign can exploit it. If Biden is allowed to coast through the fall with his current image not being seriously contested, well then, campaign malpractice will have to be added to the long litany of charges against Donald Trump.
Democrats opened the most extraordinary presidential nominating convention in recent history on Monday night with a program that spanned the gamut from socialists to Republicans, from the relatives of George Floyd to family members of those killed by the coronavirus, in a two-hour event that was a striking departure from the traditional summer pageant of American democracy.
Truncated and conducted virtually because of the coronavirus crisis, the presentation at times resembled an online awards show, and it offered a vivid illustration of how both the pandemic and widespread opposition to President Trump have upended the country’s politics.
Capping the evening was an urgent plea from Michelle Obama, the former first lady, for voters to mobilize in overpowering force to turn Mr. Trump out of office and elect the Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Breaking through the stilted online format, Mrs. Obama provided the emotional high point of the night as she confronted the president directly. “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she said. “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.”
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, speaking before Mrs. Obama, gave voice to what he described as the historic stakes this November, arguing that “this election is about preserving our democracy” and alluding to his own family’s experience with Nazi Germany.
“This is not normal,” he said, “and we must never treat it like it is.”
Kicking off a four-day conclave during which they hope to both win over moderates who are uneasy with Mr. Trump’s divisive leadership and energize liberals who are unenthusiastic about their own nominee, Democrats reached for the recent past.They showcased Mr. Sanders, the leader of the left and their reigning presidential runner-up; a handful of Republican defectors, including former Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio; and the most popular figure from the previous administration, Mrs. Obama.
They hailed Mr. Biden, the former vice president, who will formally accept his party’s nomination on Thursday, and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, and made clear their deep apprehension about the country’s future if Mr. Trump were to win a second term.
Mrs. Obama portrayed the Trump era as a gallery of social and political degradation: a government defined by “chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy” and guided by the ethos that “greed is good and winning is everything.”
With no arena, and no loudspeaker to introduce the presenters, Democrats turned to the actress Eva Longoria to serve as M.C. and keep the evening moving between prerecorded and live video presentations. A lineup of political luminaries delivered remarks in rapid-fire format, and only a few of them — Mrs. Obama, for one, and Mr. Sanders — possessed the sheer star power to linger in the perception of the audience.
“The past four years have left us, as a nation, diminished and divided,” Ms. Longoria said at the opening of the program, alluding to the pandemic, its economic devastation and much else.
Embracing rather than seeking to conceal the oddity of the event, Democrats began their program with a lighthearted montage of speakers making “Is this thing on?”-style remarks as they prepared to tape videos. That was followed by a rousing rendition of the national anthem sung by young people across the country who appeared in multiplying boxes on the screen like so many members of the Brady Bunch.
It was the first of several such interludes, breaking up sober discussions of racial injustice and other subjects with brief recordings of voters talking about their political support for Mr. Biden or Americana-infused video clips with musical accompaniment.
ImageDemocrats abandoned their plans to gather in Milwaukee for a convention in an effort to demonstrate more responsible leadership amid a pandemic.
Democrats abandoned their plans to gather in Milwaukee for a convention in an effort to demonstrate more responsible leadership amid a pandemic. Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times
While in a traditional convention the presidential nominee does not speak until Thursday night, Mr. Biden made a recorded appearance on Monday. He conducted a question-and-answer session — spanning just a few minutes — to discuss systemic racism with figures including Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and Derrick Johnson, the president of the N.A.A.C.P.
Mr. Sanders and Mr. Kasich, in notably different tones and styles, delivered an overlapping message about setting aside political differences to defeat Mr. Trump.
Mr. Kasich, appearing outdoors in what appeared to be a prerecorded segment, spoke the longest of any of the Republicans and sought to assuage his fellow party members’ concerns about voting for a Democrat. “In normal times something like this probably would never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said before directly addressing the fears of some conservative voters. “They fear Joe may turn sharp left and leave them behind. I don’t believe that; no one pushes Joe around.”
Striking a valedictory note, and pointing the way forward for future battles over control of the Democratic Party, Mr. Sanders directly addressed supporters of his two presidential campaigns, urging them to back Mr. Biden.
‘This Election Is About Preserving Our Democracy,’ Sanders Says
On the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, Senator Bernie Sanders encouraged his supporters to back Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president.
This election is the most important in the modern history of this country. In response to the unprecedented crises we face, we need an unprecedented response, 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. Our campaign ended several months ago. But our movement continues and is getting stronger every day. Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered “radical,” are now mainstream. But let us be clear: If Donald Trump is re-elected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy. At its most basic, this election is about preserving our democracy.
‘This Election Is About Preserving Our Democracy,’ Sanders Says
On the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, Senator Bernie Sanders encouraged his supporters to back Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president.CreditCredit…Democratic National Convention, via Associated Press
At the same time, he continued to claim the upper hand in a long ideological struggle. “We have moved this country in a bold new direction,” Mr. Sanders said, “showing that all of us — Black and white, Latino, Native American, Asian-American, gay and straight, native born and immigrant — yearn for a nation based on the principles of justice, love and compassion.”
Yet before Mr. Sanders appeared, in a reflection of Mr. Biden’s ungainly coalition, some speakers sought to nudge the former vice president in a different direction. Mr. Kasich argued that Mr. Biden would not be tugged to the left, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said he was the candidate for voters who recoiled at the country’s political extremes.
The program devoted a lengthy segment to the protests against racial injustice. Appearing above the Black Lives Matter logo painted on the street across from the White House, the mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel E. Bowser, recounted her anger over Mr. Trump’s deployment of federal troops against protesters this summer.
“I said ‘Enough’ for every Black and brown American who has experienced injustice,” Ms. Bowser said.
Ms. Bowser introduced an appearance by family members of George Floyd, the Black man whose death in the custody of the Minneapolis police this spring set off a national protest movement. Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, said it was “up to us to carry on the fight for justice,” naming a number of other Black men and women slain by the police in recent years, including Eric Garner and Sandra Bland.
‘George Should Be Alive Today,’ Floyd Family Says
George Floyd’s family held a moment of silence for the victims of police violence during the opening hour of the Democratic National Convention on Monday night.
George had a giving spirit, a spirit that has shown up on streets around our nation and around the world. People of all races, all ages, all genders, all backgrounds peacefully protesting in the name of love and unity. It’s a fitting legacy for our brother. But George should be alive today. Breonna Taylor should be alive today. Ahmaud Arbery should be alive today. Eric Garner should be alive today. Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland. They should all be alive today. We do not know the faces — we’ll never see those who can’t mourn because their murders didn’t go viral. Please join me in a moment of silence to honor George and the many other souls we lost to hate and injustice. And when this moment ends, let’s make sure we never stop saying their names.
‘George Should Be Alive Today,’ Floyd Family Says
George Floyd’s family held a moment of silence for the victims of police violence during the opening hour of the Democratic National Convention on Monday night.CreditCredit…Democratic National Convention, via Associated Press
Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the senior Black Democrat in Congress, struck the same theme of national reconciliation, promising Mr. Biden would be “a president who sees unifying people as a requirement of the job.”
Since the dawn of the television age, the presidential conventions have been aimed at the millions of Americans watching the festivities from their homes, with each party using its gathering to offer an uplifting case for its nominee and to savage the opposition. Those who spoke on Mr. Biden’s behalf on Monday made those same appeals — but almost everything else about the nature of this event was unique.
While the presentation had the unmistakable aura of life in a pandemic, the roster of speakers had a more vintage feel — less a vision of the Democratic Party’s future than a bridge to the 20th century. There were those nearing or in their 80s: Mr. Sanders and Mr. Clyburn; three Republicans who made their names in the 1990s, Mr. Kasich, former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey and former Representative Susan Molinari of New York; and a current governor whose name evokes conventions past, Andrew M. Cuomo of New York.
Mr. Cuomo’s remarks, however, were far less lofty than those delivered in 1984 by his father, Mario M. Cuomo, who gave a rousing speech that earned him national recognition. On Monday night, Governor Cuomo focused on New York’s response to the coronavirus crisis. “Only a strong body can fight off the virus, and America’s divisions weakened it,” said Mr. Cuomo, calling Mr. Trump’s response to the pandemic “dysfunctional and incompetent.”
Perhaps the most searing critique of Mr. Trump came not from an elected official but from Kristin Urquiza, a young woman whose father, a Trump supporter, died after contracting the coronavirus. Speaking briefly and in raw terms about her loss, Ms. Urquiza said of her father, “His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his life.”
‘He Paid With His Life,’ Daughter of Trump Supporter Says
Kristin Urquiza, whose father died of the coronavirus, spoke before the Democratic National Convention about his misplaced faith in President Trump.
My dad, Mark Anthony Urquiza, should be here today. But he isn’t. He had faith in Donald Trump. He voted for him, listened to him, believed him and his mouthpieces when they said that coronavirus was under control and going to disappear. 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. I am not alone. Once I told my story, a lot of people reached out to me to share theirs. They asked me to help them keep their communities safe, especially communities of color, which have been disproportionately affected.
‘He Paid With His Life,’ Daughter of Trump Supporter Says
Kristin Urquiza, whose father died of the coronavirus, spoke before the Democratic National Convention about his misplaced faith in President Trump.
Beyond the pandemic, Democrats sought to use the first night of the convention to highlight the breadth of support Mr. Biden enjoys, hoping to send a signal to voters across a broad range of the ideological spectrum.
In this way, the program was reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s convention four years ago, when the party also tried to bring along its left flank but spent even more time seeking to portray Mr. Trump as an outlier far removed from the political mainstream.
The specter of a Trump presidency back then, however, was a theoretical proposition. This year, Democrats were able to lay out a more powerful indictment based on Mr. Trump’s tenure in the White House. And had Democrats nominated a more liberal candidate than the consensus-oriented Mr. Biden, they might not have been able lure former Republican office holders.
Not that every Democrat was happy that Mr. Kasich, an anti-union Republican, was allowed to speak in prime time at the convention: Some influential labor leaders complained bitterly to Mr. Biden’s senior aides about Mr. Kasich’s appearance, according to Democrats familiar with the conversations.
For his part, the president largely ignored the Republicans who spurned him, turning instead to racial demagogy. On a swing through the Midwest on Monday, Mr. Trump accused Democrats of representing left-wing extremism and, returning to the xenophobic themes of his first presidential campaign, argued baselessly that Mr. Biden would “overwhelm Minnesota with refugees from terror hot spots.”
Appearing at an airplane hangar in front of Air Force One, the president continued his bald campaign to sow doubts about the integrity of the electoral process — rhetoric that no modern president has dared use.
Mrs. Obama, alluding to Mr. Trump’s false claims about voter fraud, cited the challenges to voting access that some Democrats fear will prove inevitable this fall, and pleaded with Americans to do whatever it would take to cast their ballots. “We’ve got to be willing to spend all night in line if we have to,” she said.
Recognizing that her remarks would not be as powerful without applause, the organizers displayed a Zoom-style panoramic of Democrats applauding the former first lady.