A tale of two conventions: the RNC and DNC

Donald Trump, President of the US, who spoke at the RNC this week.
The Controversial leader of the United States is hoping for re-election this November. Source: The White House (via Flickr)
Both the RNC and DNC have been held in America this month. These events were aimed to motivate supporters and bring in undecided voters.

By Hallum Cowell | Deputy Editor

This month in US politics saw the DNC (Democrat National Convention) and RNC (Republican National Convention) take place. The RNC and DNC saw Trump and Biden secure the presidential nomination for their respective parties, paving the way for the election in November 2020.  

During their conventions, both parties made appeals to their voters and those undecided to back them in November with an array of guest speakers and the candidates making speeches.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s conventions took on a distinctly different character; replacing colossal halls filled to bursting with people, all cheering slogans, and buzzwords, with the speakers standing on an empty stage, with no audience, speaking into a camera.

The RNC: American exceptionalism, vilifying the opposition and a return to the basics

The Republicans kicked off their first night with an appeal to “the land of promise”.

The focus of the convention seemed to be threefold; to brand President Trump as a caring and empathetic leader, to vilify the opposition and to return to the basics.

The President’s son Donald Trump Jr. said that Americans who are  “looking for hope” should look to his father.

Trump Jr. argued that prior to COVID-19, which he blamed on the Chinese Communist Party, the economy was doing very well. Continuing to play to the idea of American exceptionalism he said, “America is the greatest country on Earth. But my father’s entire worldview revolves around the idea that we can always do even better”.

By the end of the convention every one of the President’s adult children had spoken.

Vilifying the Democrats was also front and centre, with speakers referring to them as  dangerous leftists, playing into the US’ anti-communist mentality which persists from the Cold War. 

Nikki Haley, former US ambassador to the United Nations, said the Democrat’s “vision for America is socialism” and Kimberly Guilfoyle, girlfriend of Trump Jr., argued that “they [Democrats] want to destroy this country”.

The Republicans also returned to basics. 

Dana Bash, a commentator for CNN, said the convention aimed to convince Americans that “Republicans are the ones who are going to keep low, Joe Biden is going to raise your taxes”.

Mike Pence, the current Vice-President and Trump’s running mate, gave a speech warning of, what he argued was, the danger of Biden as President. 

Mr Pence said “the hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America”, and likened the vote to a choice between the lawlessness of the Democrats and the law-and-order of the Republicans.

“Joe Biden would double down on the very policies that are leading to unsafe streets and violence in American cities”, Pence said.

Other speakers at the convention included White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Sister Dede Byrne and Burgess Owens, who is a congressional candidate for Utah.

The DNC: Uniting and improving the nation, previous Presidents and attacks on Trump

The Democratic National Convention focused on the theme of “unifying America”. 

Quite expectedly, the Democrats were more focused on pointing to the problems with the country as opposed to the Republicans.

The Convention began with Michelle Obama calling Trump the “wrong” President and urging voters to vote for the Democrats like their “lives depended on it”. She also called attention to the recent controversy over alleged voter suppression. She added that “we have to vote like we did in 2008 and 2012”.

Previous Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders also gave a speech on the first day of the convention. He called for his supporters to back Joe Biden: “let us be clear, if Donald Trump is re-elected all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy”. Sanders described President Trump’s term in office as “not normal, and we should never treat it like it is”.

Joe Biden was also keen to present his wife, and possible future first lady, Dr Jill Biden. “She never gives herself much credit, but the truth is she’s the strongest person I know”, he said, proudly. 

Earlier, Mrs Biden had given her own speech: “I know that if we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he has done for ours – bring us together and make us whole”, which further played into themes of uniting the nation.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry attacked Donald Trump’s record on international relations: “Donald Trump pretends Russia didn’t attack our election. And now, he does nothing about Russia putting a bounty on our troops. So, he won’t defend our country. He doesn’t know how to defend our troops. The only person he’s interested in defending is himself”.

On the final night many of the conventions, some of the Democrats’ heaviest hitters found their way on stage, including former president Barack Obama,  Hilary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and Senate speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Former President Obama gave a speech aimed at attacking the current President: “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences have been severe. 170,000 Americans dead”. He also attempted to galvanise voters into action: “what we do echoes through the generations, whatever our backgrounds, we’re all children of Americans who fought the good fight”. 

Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, spoke on the last night of the convention, where she attacked Trump’s “failure of leadership”, adding that “right now, we have a President who turns our tragedies into political weapons”. She also commented on the recent protets against police brutality saying “there is no vaccine for Racism”. 

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