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Explained: What you need to know about the 2020 Democratic National Convention

Democratic National Convention 2020: What is the significance of DNC 2020? What is expected to happen? Can you watch the proceedings online? All your questions answered.

Written by Neha Banka , Edited by Explained Desk | Kolkata |
Updated: August 18, 2020 9:26:17 am
Democratic National Convention, Democratic National Convention schedule, DNC schedule, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, US Democratic National Convention, Democratic National Convention US, Democratic National Convention US elections, US elections, US presidential elections, US presidential elections 2020, 2020 US presidential elections, World news, Indian ExpressUnlike the predominantly white and male Trump administration of the last four years, several of Biden’s picks for top White House posts are women and people of colour.

The four-day 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) starts on Monday (August 17), during which the Democratic party in the United States will officially choose its nominees for the posts of President and Vice President of the United States in the presidential election of November 3.

The coronavirus pandemic and especially high rates of infections in the US has forced the Democratic party to postpone the convention by a month to August. The outbreak has also forced the convention to go largely online, instead of it being physically hosted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as had been originally planned.

Which means that the stars of the DNC, presumptive nominee Joseph R Biden Jr, the 47th Vice President of the United States, and his running mate, Senator Kamala Devi Harris of California, will not be in Milwaukee, but will address the convention online from Wilmington, Delaware.

What is the significance of the Democratic National Convention?

These party conventions before the elections are a platform for the presidential candidates to directly speak to, and connect with voters. They involve significant pageantry and theatrics, and are large media events; concerns have, therefore, been expressed over the effectiveness of a virtual convention, and whether it can generate the same interest and enthusiasm among supporters, voters, and the media.

When these conventions are traditionally held with the physical presence of people, they allow for photo and networking opportunities not just for local politicians and public figures, but also voters, for whom this becomes a big draw. A virtual convention would mean that many attendees wouldn’t be able to engage in this way.

Apart from the absence of this opportunity to physically engage and network though, the important business of the convention will proceed as normal — even if via video link. There will be speeches from a line-up of Democratic leaders, the party’s official policy platform will be adopted, and the voting that will formally make Biden the official nominee will take place.

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What is the schedule of the Democratic National Convention?

The convention will meet from 9 pm to 11 pm Eastern Time, from Monday (August 17) to Thursday (August 20) — that is, 6.30 am to 8.30 am from August 18-21 in India.

The first day’s line-up includes Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York; Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who made a bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination alongside Biden and Harris before dropping out and endorsing Biden early in March this year; former First Lady Michelle Obama, who delivered the memorable ‘When they go low, we go high’ speech at the 2016 DNC; and the independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, who finished in second place behind Biden and Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination in 2020 and 2016 respectively.

On August 18, Jill Biden, the spouse of the presumptive nominee, will speak, along with former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry. A pre-recorded speech by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York will be broadcast.

The speakers’ list for August 19 includes former Secretary of State and the 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton; and former President Barack Obama. Also speaking will be Kamala Harris herself; Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was briefly considered a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination at the beginning of the primaries; and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

On August 20, the final day of the convention, several other candidates who dropped out of the 2020 presidential race — former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang — will speak.

Joe Biden too will speak on the last day, formally accepting the nomination and officially becoming the party’s Presidential nominee.

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Can you watch the proceedings of DNC 2020?

The proceedings will be streamed live on the Democratic National Convention website (, as also by major American news organisations, including The New York Times, which has also announced “chat-based live analysis” from its reporters and “real-time highlights from the speeches”.

The Convention will also be on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

All the major US cable TV networks will broadcast the convention live, and you can watch the proceedings on any network that is available in India.

What else will happen other than the speeches?

There are always performances by American artistes; only this time, they will be virtual.

On August 17, singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers and soul-singer, songwriter and record producer Leon Bridges, will perform.

On August 18, there won’t be any performances by artistes, but the schedule features ‘Roll Across America’, in which ordinary citizens across the United States will speak about the presidential elections and their support for Joe Biden as a presidential candidate.

On August 19, singer-songwriter Billie Eilish will perform.

On the last day, the all-female country pop band, The Chicks (previously the Dixie Chicks) will perform.

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