The Corner

Elections

The Half-Success of the Democratic Convention

Brayden Harrington speaks by video feed during the final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (DNC/Reuters)

The biggest takeaway from the Democratic convention is that Joe Biden is a decent guy who has suffered grievous personal losses and has empathy for the suffering of others. This was a theme throughout, but the last 45 minutes or so of the final night, beginning with the moving appearance of Brayden Harrington, really brought it home. One reason Democrats were so successful at making this case is that it is true. If the 2020 election is a referendum on empathy, Joe Biden should win on a walk.

But as my colleagues have noted here, there was very little about the Democratic program, leaving an opening for Republicans to define that program for voters next week. Maybe the fact that Biden has avoided endorsing lightning-rod proposals such as Medicare for All will be enough to cushion him from these coming attacks, but that’s not guaranteed. This week’s “safe” convention strategy — all soft focus and abstractions, except when it came to hitting Trump — has its risks.

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