If former First Lady Michelle Obama was the centerpiece of last Monday night’s session of the Democratic National Convention, then progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former conservative Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) were the ideological bookends.
There was some sniping from the left for giving a prime time speaking gig to Kasich, a conservative who ran for president on the Republican ticket only four years ago. Sanders and Kasich may have been an odd-couple, but their pairing Monday night was a thing of beauty.
Progressive Democrats argue that the Democratic nominee needs to galvanize the party base to win. Centrists in the party believe that the route to victory is to reach out to blue collar workers who supported Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Both wings of the party are wrong.
To reach the White House Biden must do both and that’s what he did at the convention last week. It’s not one or the other for the former vice president; he needs to mobilize the base and reach out to independents to win in November. No one ever said winning a presidential race would be simple.
There was no better way to appeal to the aggressive progressives in the Democratic Party than the strong endorsement speech from Sanders. The best way to appeal to the independents is to present a bipartisan sheen to the proceedings and the former Republican governor of Ohio certainly fit the bill. Other prominent Republicans such as former Bush National Security Advisor Colin Powell and Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Sen. John McCain, also spoke at the Democratic in support of Joe Biden.
A national survey conducted just before the Democratic convention by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal indicated that there are plenty of independents still up for grabs. Half of the independents were supporting Biden and only a quarter were with the president. Another quarter of the swing voters were still in play, and the appearance of so many Republicans on the Democratic stage must have warmed their hearts and secured their ballots.
A post-convention national poll by ABC News documented the benefits of the Democratic convention message. Not only did Biden’s personal popularity rise by five points, but the president’s negative numbers increased all the way to 60 percent.
The Democratic meeting was noteworthy for its diversity as well as its bipartisanship. People of color spoke for more than half the time during the four-day event. Demography is destiny and the Democratic Party is the party of diversity. There won’t be any prominent Democrats speaking at the Republic convention and there won’t be much diversity. Instead it will be all Trump, the whole time.
The theme of the Republican National Convention is “All in the Family,” but the real message will be “A House Divided.”
Donald Trump will appear on each of the four nights and there will be presentations by his wife, two of his sons and two of his daughters.
The main course at the Republican National Convention this week will be red meat for right wingers. Appearing on Trump TV will be a litany of right-wing extremists who will play to the Trump base with fear and loathing — likely loathing of immigrants and fear of creeping communism. Don’t expect to hear much about the elephant in the room, which is the president’s feeble and failed fight against the COVID-19 pandemic which has killed almost 180,000 Americans.
The GOP has already lost the House of Representatives during Trump’s presidency and they are in danger of losing the Senate in November. The Trump heavy convention schedule proves the Republican Party is just a shell corporation and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trump Organization. The GOP is in danger of becoming another of the president’s pet projects like Trump University, Trump Casino and Trump Airlines, which all crashed and burned before the president turned his reverse Midas Touch against his own country.
Joe Biden’s convention acceptance speech was heartwarming, empathetic and soothing. As the United States spirals out of control into chaos, Americans want the calm and reassuring presence that the Democratic nominee offers. Don’t expect Donald Trump’s acceptance to offer any of those subtle qualities. The president only has anger and inventiveness to offer a nation looking for hope.
Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Dateline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.
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