The messages in the Zoom chat were snide at first, but not despondent. One person observed that the Democrats would rather listen to young people singing the national anthem than to their political opinions. Another noted that the event felt like a highly produced infomercial. Just 30 minutes in, a mustachioed man with a palm-tree Zoom background gave up on the whole production. “I’ve got to get some sleep,” he wrote to the group. “I’ve got Bernie taped.”
For two hours last night, about 20 members of the Ohio chapter of Our Revolution, the political organization spun out of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, watched the Democratic National Convention’s kickoff with, it seemed, varying amounts of bitterness. Some watched with their camera turned off, as speaker after speaker extolled the virtues of Joe Biden, while others could be seen hunkered over their computer in some dark corner of their home.
But when John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio, appeared on-screen, the chat descended briefly into despair. “Oh lord,” someone wrote. “Drinking now,” said another. A third person could muster only a digital sound: “UUUGGGHHHHHHH .”
The parade of GOP defectors who spoke last night was meant to demonstrate the bipartisan solidarity behind Biden, and to show anti-Trump Republicans and swing voters nationwide that the Democratic tent is a place where they will be not merely tolerated, but celebrated. The former vice president’s team wants “silent Biden voters” to know that they are not alone in crossing party lines to support the presumptive Democratic nominee, Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, a chair of Biden’s campaign, explained on a press call yesterday. Michelle Obama made national unity the theme of her well-received speech too.