Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention: The choice before Americans

During her speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, former first lady Michelle Obama argued that Joe Biden's character, compassion and competency makes him a better choice than President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Watch more convention videos here.

Posted: Aug 18, 2020 6:51 PM
Updated: Aug 18, 2020 6:51 PM

Americans have a choice on November 3: Trumpism or Obamaism.

That's why Michelle Obama, one of the most popular political figures in the United States, was the keynote speaker at the first night of the virtual Democratic National Convention on Monday. The former first lady has immense sway among female voters and African American women especially, whom Democrats need to beat President Donald Trump. But more importantly, Obama pleaded with Americans to believe that pursuing justice, equality, decency and change through a reason-based political process can still work -- even against an opponent who might destroy that system to retain power.

Four years ago, at the 2016 convention, she told Americans, "When they go low, we go high." That sounds like the idealism of a vanished era -- but Obama is doubling down on the creed today. "Going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that's drowning out everything else," she said.

The Democratic campaign for president this year sounds like an Obama-era restoration, though the party has moved leftward since the 44th President left office. Presumptive nominee Joe Biden is always talking about his buddy "Barack," and his pick of Kamala Harris as running mate was a bid to reassemble the "Obama coalition" of young, minority and middle class moderates. The politics of the last 12 years have unfolded as a struggle between that group and a rival bloc powered by a white, populist, and rural backlash.

Trump on Monday had reminded Democrats of what they face, retweeting Russian intelligence propaganda, spreading racial demagoguery and warning any election resulting in his defeat will be "rigged." That evening, Michelle Obama responded: "If we want to keep the possibility of progress alive in our time, if we want to be able to look our children in the eye after this election, we have got to reassert our place in American history."

We'll see in 11 weeks if "going high" works better this time.

Run DNC

It was a cross between a charity telethon and a TV awards show.

The strangeness of a convention in the age of Covid-19 was always going to be the biggest takeaway of the first night of the Democratic Party nominating fest. And Trump supporters were always going to blast it as socialism on steroids. But what would an undecided voter think?

They might first of all have struggled to recognize that odd feeling — optimism — after months of socially distanced tragedy. Democratic spin chiefs sought to fuse the unity, idealism and activism fostered during the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement to suggest a path is possible out of the darkness — with Biden leading, of course.

The convention, a mix of live and pre-recorded video, left no doubt about who was to blame for the pandemic that has killed more than 170,000 Americans, either. Trump was lashed for ignoring the threat and botching the response to the virus -- and for dividing the nation along the way. The most scathing line of the night came from Kristin Urquiza, whose father, Mark Anthony, believed Trump's assurance that the pandemic was under control and went to a karaoke bar weeks before the coronavirus killed him. "His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump," Urquiza said.

Democrats need a unified party and a young, diverse surge of voters to overwhelm Trump. So Monday was a festival of brown, Black and White faces, with women taking dominant roles. Even the hero of the left, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, lined up with the party establishment for once, telling supporters to unite behind Biden in a way he never did for his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton. All of Biden's primary rivals endorsed him in another video. Some Republicans popped up to slam Trump — including onetime conservative firebrand John Kasich, cornily standing at a literal crossroads.

In highly challenging circumstances, Democrats produced a watchable package that may well have helped anyone undecided on Trump to make up their mind — presuming those people actually exist.

Three more nights to go.

'We may have the worst response of any major country'

"I think it's pretty fair to say we may have the worst response of any major country," said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Institute of Health, during a Center for American Progress webinar earlier on Monday. While Brazil's response has been poor, he said, the US should not be competing with Brazil for that title. "We didn't get here overnight. This has really been one mishap after another," Jha said. "The single factor that really differentiates us from everybody else is denialism that has pervaded our entire approach."

Postcard from Minsk

As the US frets over the legitimacy and logistics of its November vote, a growing protest movement in Belarus is proving the consequences for leaders when citizens don't trust the electoral process. Clashes between Belarusian protesters and state security officers have prompted global concern -- but activists say this moment also holds enormous hope, CNN's Fred Pleitgen and Mary Ilyushina report from Minsk:

"Only a week ago, if three people stood on the street together in Minsk and simply clapped their hands, they would probably have been arrested within minutes. Now, Belarus has been transformed by outrage, and hundreds of thousands are gathering for protests. They have already countered a brutal police crackdown with non-violence and it seems they are persevering.

"Immediately after the disputed election, just a few people stood at the side of streets holding their hands up and flowers in the air. Motorists honked in support. That support kept growing: After a few days, demonstrators were able to march to parliament and protest there -- security forces did not intervene. On Sunday, around 100,000 people protested in the capital, and now, a general strike is heaping more pressure on the government.

"The protesters want an end to President Alexander Lukashenko's 26-year-rule. Most want freedom and real elections, and they feel their moment in history is now. They must speak up now, they say, or the moment might fade away."

"'We want honest elections, we want an honest count of votes. Nothing else. I don't even want to say that I am against something. I just want it all to be honest,' one protester told us."

'A moral, environmental and economic disaster'

US Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Monday approved a plan that could clear the way for oil and gas drilling in the 1.5 million acre Coastal Plain area of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, responded on Twitter that the plan would set into motion "a moral, environmental and economic disaster." "Hard to say what's worse — destroying the nation's largest wildlife refuge, or further inflaming the climate crisis with new oil & gas drilling so a few fossil fuel companies can profit at our expense," Inslee tweeted.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295295

Reported Deaths: 6724
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19672230
Hinds18799386
Harrison16710278
Rankin12685264
Jackson12592226
Lee9687160
Madison9457199
Jones7962146
Forrest7208136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6022137
Lamar588080
Lafayette5733113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4609123
Oktibbeha441393
Panola430394
Pearl River4167130
Warren4129114
Pontotoc408869
Marshall403192
Monroe3989126
Union395374
Neshoba3807168
Lincoln3541102
Hancock347374
Leflore3375118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300195
Scott293870
Alcorn291861
Itawamba289975
Yazoo289262
Tippah278765
Copiah277857
Coahoma277568
Simpson274878
Prentiss269758
Wayne253841
Marion252678
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234377
George231745
Newton229652
Winston221675
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes182270
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122438
Perry121634
Lawrence120321
Carroll118225
Amite111533
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77114
Franklin76119
Choctaw69516
Jefferson62527
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493769

Reported Deaths: 9931
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson710731374
Mobile36139727
Madison32425455
Tuscaloosa24184410
Montgomery22586500
Shelby21968215
Baldwin19758283
Lee14967153
Morgan13667251
Calhoun13300286
Etowah13184319
Marshall11262209
Houston10104261
Elmore9385185
Limestone9363134
Cullman8897181
St. Clair8827223
Lauderdale8607211
DeKalb8459175
Talladega7523163
Walker6524255
Jackson6495102
Autauga627091
Blount6102127
Colbert6004118
Coffee5249102
Dale4642107
Russell404930
Franklin399177
Covington3960106
Chilton3876100
Escambia377672
Tallapoosa3588142
Clarke343650
Chambers3413110
Dallas3403141
Pike293472
Lawrence283484
Marion281995
Winston246867
Bibb245060
Geneva239970
Marengo236455
Pickens224654
Barbour211651
Hale210568
Fayette200756
Butler196866
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163740
Washington156535
Crenshaw144854
Clay144454
Macon142043
Cleburne137839
Lamar132833
Lowndes131151
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105627
Sumter98531
Coosa88923
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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