5 major family moments from the DNC's opening night
Posted August 2, 2016
The first day of the Democratic National Convention proved to be a family affair.
As Clare Foran wrote for The Atlantic, a large amount of the Democratic delegates attending the DNC brought their families with them, mostly because family stories lie at the heart of what the Democratic Party is trying to focus on as it plans to announce presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton as its official candidate for president.
Foran mentioned specifically the Huerta family, who are delegates from Vermont who support Bernie Sanders. The Huertas often face bullying for their Hispanic heritage, making them worried about what a Donald Trump presidency would look like given that Trump has continually insulted Mexican immigrants and caused concern among Muslims, too.
“For all the media spectacle and sensationalism of the election, and all the picking apart of candidates, who sometimes seem more like caricatures than anything else, stories like the Huerta’s serve as a reminder that the presidential race has very real repercussions for people across the country,” Foran wrote. “The thousands of delegates attending this year’s national conventions are evidence that even in an era where plenty of Americans believe that Washington is broken, many still want to make their voices heard in the political process, and will quite literally travel extraordinary lengths to do so.”
And though Sanders won’t be elected as the nominee — he has even endorsed Clinton and spoke on her behalf at the DNC’s first night — families of delegates are still coming together to celebrate Clinton, hoping that her future will provide a better one for their families, Foran wrote.
That seems to be the message spread throughout the entirety of the DNC’s first day. You could also see the familial ties in the speeches offered by the Democratic Party’s blockbuster opening lineup of speakers, including Sanders, first lady Michelle Obama, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Indeed, this seemed to be a theme among the Republican Party’s convention last week, too, as I wrote about last Thursday. In fact, vice presidential pick Mike Pence highlighted the importance of raising good kids in his speech. This came after a week where Trump put his family in the spotlight, too.
But here’s a breakdown of how several of the DNC’s first night’s speakers used family members and stories to talk about how presumptive nominee Clinton can fix the issues threatening America.
You could say that Sanders’ main message during his speech was that he stands with Clinton, and that he wants all of his supporters to vote for her. As Time magazine reported, Sanders said that Clinton’s ideals have started to align with Sanders’ more progressive mindset.
But Sanders also spent some time talking about how this election matters for all kinds of families — especially those who are stuck in poverty and can’t move up the social ladder because of income inequality.
“This election is about a single mom I saw in Nevada who, with tears in her eyes, told me that she was scared to death about the future because she and her young daughter were not making it on the $10.45 an hour she was earning,” Sanders said, according to the prepared remarks. “This election is about that woman and the millions of other workers in this country who are struggling to survive on totally inadequate wages.”
He said he and Clinton came together to support measures that would help families, too, including a change to the affordability of higher education.
“It will guarantee that the children of any family this country with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less — 83 percent of our population — will be able to go to a public college or university tuition free. That proposal also substantially reduces student debt,” he said.
Most importantly, Sanders said this upcoming election is about the future of America, affecting the children and future children of the nation.
“This election is about — and must be about — the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren,” he said.
The first lady rocked the house.
Obama’s speech seems to have been the highlight of the DNC’s opening night. Vox called her one of the winners of the night, saying that her speech, which included lines about how she and her family live in a house originally built by slaves, helped people see how important this upcoming election may actually be.
Much of Obama’s message came through family stories. She opened with a story about her daughters’ first day of school after entering the White House almost eight years ago and what that meant to her.
“I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just 7 and 10 years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those big men with guns,” she said, according to prepared remarks reported by NPR. “And I saw their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, "What have we done?" See, because at that moment, I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation for who they would become, and how well we managed this experience could truly make or break them.”
Obama said that she and her husband often think about their children when they make policy and executive decisions — specifically how those decisions will impact their children and their grandchildren.
It’s that mindset, she said, that makes her feel comfortable about electing Clinton to the White House.
“See, I trust Hillary to lead this country because I've seen her lifelong devotion to our nation's children — not just her own daughter, who she has raised to perfection — but every child who needs a champion,” she said. “Kids who take the long way to school to avoid the gangs. Kids who wonder how they'll ever afford college. Kids whose parents don't speak a word of English but dream of a better life. Kids who look to us to determine who and what they can be.”
She also said in her speech that she wanted a president who can combat bullying, racism and prejudices that may come their way. Clinton, she said, could inspire children to act that way.
“I want a president who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters — a president who truly believes in the vision that our founders put forth all those years ago: That we are all created equal, each a beloved part of the great American story,” she said. “And when crisis hits, we don't turn against each other — no, we listen to each other. We lean on each other. Because we are always stronger together.”
We knew it was coming. Warren spent the bulk of her speech Monday night condemning Trump, who she’s had a back-and-forth social media and press conference war with for the better part of the last six months.
In her speech Monday night, she attacked Trump in almost every way — his speeches, his policy ideas (or, according to Warren, non-ideas) and even his campaign slogan about making America great again. Instead, she argued that America isn’t really broken, it’s just that families aren’t being helped in the right way.
“Here’s the thing: America isn’t going broke,” she said, according to Time magazine. “The stock market is breaking records. Corporate profits are at all-time highs. CEOs make tens of millions of dollars. There’s lots of wealth in America, but it isn’t trickling down to hard-working families like yours.”
She went on to explain that Trump, as well as the Republican Party, may not help families get out of debt the way Hillary can.
That’s why, she said, she stands with Clinton.
"We believe that no one, no one, who works full time should live in poverty,” she said. “Hillary will fight for raising the minimum wage, fair scheduling, paid family and medical leave! And we’re with her!”
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker may very well be the future of the Democratic Party, especially after Monday night’s speech. Sure, reviews are mixed, but many seem to believe that Booker, who received an early nod for VP from Clinton, shined during the DNC’s opening night by rallying the country around patriotic statements.
(As a side note, Booker’s speech also caught the eye of GOP nominee Donald Trump. And that’s not exactly an eye you want to come across, especially when Trump’s Twitter fingers are ready to strike.)
Still, like those who spoke after him, Booker said Hillary knows what families need more than any other candidate, especially when it comes to what families can afford.
“She knows that we need paid family leave, because when a parent doesn't have to choose between being there for a sick kid and paying rent, or when a single mom earns an equal wage for equal work, it empowers the most important building block this nation has for our success — the family,” he said, according to NJ.com.
He also talked about how Clinton, during the early days of her political career, went door-to-door working to help children with disabilities feel safer in the United States, and worked to combat bullying.
“I support Hillary Clinton because these are her values, and she has been paying it forward her entire life,” he said. “Long before she ever ran for office, in Massachusetts, she went door-to-door collecting stories of children with disabilities. In South Carolina, she fought to reform juvenile justice so children wouldn't be thrown into adult prisons. In Alabama, she helped expose remnants of segregation in schools.”
It’s not just politicians who promoted family values.
Karla Ortiz, an 11-year-old, took to the stage during the DNC’s first night to express her fears about her Mexican family being deported.
"My parents came here looking for a better life, for the American Dream," she said, according to AOL News. "I don't feel great every day; on most days, I'm scared. I'm scared that at any moment, my mom and dad will be forced to leave, and I wonder what if I come home and find it empty?"
But, she said, Clinton's’ campaign quelled her fears. Ortiz said she met Clinton and the presumptive nominee made her feel a little safer.
“Valiente, brave, that's what Hillary Clinton called me when I told her I was worried my parents would be deported," she said, according to AOL. "Hillary Clinton told me that she would do everything she could to help us. She told me that I didn't have to do the worrying because she will do the worrying for me and all of us. She wants me to have the worries of an 11-year-old, not the weight of the world on my shoulders."
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.