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With 61 days to the election, students share reactions to historic DNC and RNC conventions

| Wednesday, September 2, 2020

This year’s political party conventions made history. Largely pre-recorded and viewed remotely from across the country, the Democratic and Republican National conventions (DNC and RNC, respectively) concluded their consecutive weeks with former Vice President Joe Biden accepting the Democratic nomination for president and incumbent President Donald Trump accepting the Republican nomination.

Notre Dame students shared their impressions of the conventions as the election nears over a series of email correspondences.

Zachary Holland, junior co-president of the College Democrats Club, said he was impressed with the DNC given the circumstances. 

“I watched three of the four nights, and I thought that the Democratic Party’s uplifting message of progress and hope was one desperately needed in this terrible year,” Holland said. 

Holland found Biden’s speech to be his best ever and was also impressed with former President Barack Obama’s speech, among others. 

“My own favorite was the speech of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who made it quite clear what is at stake in this election, and how Joe Biden will move us forward rather than just maintaining the status quo,” Holland said.

He was disappointed, however, that the DNC didn’t embrace the progressive movement emerging from the largely younger members of the Democratic party. 

Holland watched parts of the RNC, of which he was critical.

“When they weren’t openly defying the law, like hosting the president’s acceptance speech at the White House, the Republican Party was sowing a message of division and fear at the RNC, often with claims not backed up by fact,” he said.

In regard to the final outcome of the election, Holland said he was skeptical.

“Democrats will have to fight every day for the next nine weeks to win this election,” he said.

Sophomore, president of the College Republicans Club Adam Morys said after watching parts of the RNC, he was left with an overall positive impression of the RNC.

“They gave a strong defense of the American way of life — patriotism, respect for the rule of law, freedom of speech and American exceptionalism,” Morys said. 

Morys was impressed with a number of speakers, most of all Ann Dorn, the widow of late retired St. Louis Police Captain David Dorn.

“[She] delivered an incredibly moving address that will wake up Americans all across this country. Her speech was my favorite,” Morys said. 

Additionally, Morys was in favor of Sen. Tom Cotton’s praise of President Trump’s foreign policy actions but said he was unsupportive of the criminal justice reform policies proposed by different RNC speakers.

President Trump’s speech also impressed Morys, especially “his attacks on Biden’s policy platform, strong condemnation of violence in American cities and unapologetic defense of America’s history and greatness.”

Overall, Morys said he thought the RNC improved the Republican Party’s chances in the election.

“If the Republican Party consistently defends the rule of law, they will perform well in November,” he said.

Former ND football coach Lou Holtz was a speaker at the RNC as well.

International economics and political science major junior Kyle Dorshorst watched both conventions and followed them on the news and Twitter.

“I thought it was really important to see both sides, although I am definitely planning on voting for Joe Biden,” he said.

A Milwaukee native, Dorshorst said he was disappointed the DNC could not convene fully.

“However, I think that the DNC took great advantage of the digital format by showing both the diversity of the country and the unity of so many different people behind Joe Biden,” he said. “They also did a much better job of addressing people’s concerns about the coronavirus than the RNC, in my opinion, and made a strong case for why Biden should be the next president.”

Gregory Miller, junior co-president of BridgeND, a club that fosters political dialogue between students of opposing views, followed both conventions and concluded the election has become “a referendum on Trump,” he said.

“Indeed, the RNC decided not to release a party platform this year; instead, they announced unconditional, ‘enthusiastic support’ of Donald Trump,” Miller said. “Meanwhile, the DNC was an attack on Trump and a propping up of Biden’s moral character but still failed to actively provide and center a policy platform that Democrats support. In this process of partisanship, policy was lost. And when policy loses, the American people lose.”

The Observer posed a poll to its Twitter followers Monday, asking whether they watched the DNC, the RNC, both or neither. Of the 190 votes by Tuesday evening, 24% said they followed the DNC, 17% the RNC, 20% both and 39% neither.

The general election is Nov. 3., 61 days away. Another on-campus group, ND Votes, seeks to increase voter registration and education at ND. The group has published a voter guide for students which can be accessed at their website.

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About Isabella Volmert

Isabella "Issy" Volmert is a senior majoring in English and minoring in theology and journalism, ethics and democracy at the University of Notre Dame. She currently serves The Observer as assistant managing editor. Follow her @ivolmertnews for niche JED Twitter content.

Contact Isabella