Joe Biden becomes the Democratic nominee

The party’s past and future united Tuesday to scorch Trump as unfit for office

Biden had long been the party’s presumptive nominee but Tuesday’s roll call vote formally put him into the position that he had sought twice previously. He is set to accept the nomination in a speech on Thursday.

The second night of the Democratic National Convention got underway with voices from the party’s past and its future delivering scorching condemnations of President Donald Trump.

While Joe Biden’s name was never far from the lips of the Democratic speakers, Trump’s time in office was fully under the microscope in the night’s opening stages. With the night’s programming centered on the theme “leadership matters,” the keynote speech took an unusual format featuring 17 rising stars in the Democratic Party.

“This year’s choice could not be more clear. America faces a triple threat — a public health catastrophe, an economic collapse and a reckoning with racial justice and inequality,” said Stacey Abrams, a former gubernatorial candidate in Georgia who is seen as one of the young stars of the party. “So our choice is clear, a steady experienced public servant who can lead us out of this crisis just like he’s done before. Or a man who only knows how to deny and distract. A leader who cares about our families or a president who only cares about himself.”

“In a democracy, we do not elect saviors, we cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” she added.

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who served in the Obama administration and stayed on in the Trump transition, accused the President of attacking every institution from the FBI to the free press and the judiciary to remove checks on his own power.

“Rather than standing up to Vladimir Putin, he fawns over a dictator who’s still trying to interfere in our elections,” Yates said.

“Put simply, he treats our country like it’s his family business—this time bankrupting our nation’s moral authority at home and abroad.”

Former President Bill Clinton’s centrism might be out of step with his party’s leftward march. But he showed the pithy, explanatory political skills that made him a two-term White House resident and helped reelect Barack Obama in lacerating Trump’s performance in the pandemic.

“At first he said the virus was under control and would soon disappear. When it didn’t, he was on TV every day bragging on what a great job he was doing, while our scientists waited to give us vital information. When he didn’t like the expert advice he was given, he ignored it,” Clinton said in a video recorded in his living room in Chappaqua, New York.

“Only when COVID exploded in even more states did he encourage people to wear masks. By then many more were dying. When asked about the surge in deaths, he shrugged and said, ‘It is what it is.’ But did it have to be this way? No.”

Clinton has been a star performer at Democratic conventions since the 1980s but only got around five minutes for his video speech boosting Biden this year. Targeting undecided voters, Clinton said, “If you want a president who defines the job as spending hours a day watching TV and zapping people on social media, (Trump’s) your man. Denying, distracting, and demeaning works great if you’re trying to entertain or inflame. But in a real crisis, it collapses like a house of cards.”

“You know what Donald Trump will do with four more years: blame, bully, and belittle. And you know what Joe Biden will do: build back better.”

The 42nd President’s policies on welfare and crime are now frowned upon by many progressives, represented at the convention on Tuesday night by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. And the #MeToo era has cast his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in an even more dubious light.

Yet he still remains one of the party’s most bankable names.

Another one of those bankable names, one who is still up and coming in the party, made her first appearance at a Democratic convention Tuesday.

Ocasio-Cortez, a longtime supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, was one of several Democrats who nominated Sanders before the virtual roll call at the convention on Tuesday night. Since Sanders dropped out, many Democrats have looked to her to serve as a bridge between the progressive wing of the party and the moderate wing after the long, protracted primary fight. Ocasio-Cortez served as a co-chair of a climate change task force — one of several unity commissions the two teams formed to try to unite the party.

During a 95-second address, she highlighted the issues that Sanders championed: “In a time when millions of people in the United States are looking for deep systemic solutions to our crises of mass evictions, unemployment, and lack of health care, and ​espíritu del pueblo and out of a love for all people,” she said, “I hereby second the nomination of Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont for president of the United States of America.”