CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One day after Democrats reconfirmed their commitment to civil rights and LGBT equality, speakers at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday turned their attention to the issues faced by the middle class and immigrants. Later in the evening, former President Bill Clinton nominated President Barack Obama as his party’s candidate for office this year and Obama himself made a short, surprise appearance alongside Clinton at the end of the nominating speech.
In the lead-up to Clinton, Democrats attempted to highlight the critical issues facing a majority of Americans today, including healthcare and the harms a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan administration might do to families still struggling in an economic recession.
Sister Simone Campbell, a Catholic nun and executive director of the social justice organization NETWORK, chastised Ryan for advocating a budget that she said violated their shared Catholic faith. Ryan’s proposed budget, endorsed by Romney, would make drastic cuts to public welfare programs like Medicaid and Medicare. In the past, Ryan has also proposed privatizing Social Security.
“Paul Ryan claims his budget reflects the principles of our shared Catholic faith,” Campbell said. “But the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Ryan budget failed a basic moral test because it would harm families living in poverty.”
The Republicans, Campbell said, have forgotten how to take care of their neighbors.
“…[T]heir budget goes astray in not acknowledging that we are responsible not only for ourselves and our immediate families,” she said. “Rather, our faith strongly affirms that we are responsible for one another.
“I am my sister’s keeper. I am my brother’s keeper,” she said to loud applause.
Democrats also highlighted their plans to offer assistance to young undocumented immigrants. Obama recently signed an executive order allowing young immigrants living in the nation illegally to attend college or perform military service to obtain legal residency status.
Benita Veliz, 27, spoke at the convention’s podium. Brought to the U.S. as a child, her options after a successful academic career were limited.
“I graduated as valedictorian of my high school class at the age of 16,” Veliz said to applause, “and earned a double major at the age of 20. I know I have something to contribute to my economy and my country.
“President Obama fought for the DREAM Act to help people like me,” Veliz continued. “And when Congress refused to pass it, he didn’t give up. Instead, he took action so that people like me can apply to stay in our country and contribute.”
Other speakers included Sandra Fluke, the young attorney and women’s rights activists prohibited attacked by right-wing talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, as well as Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, who preceded Clinton.
Clinton’s nomination of President Barack Obama and his speech following drew, by far, the longest and loudest applause. With a packed out Time Warner Cable Arena, Clinton spoke at length on the harms of Republican “trickle-down” economy policies and their plans to undo health care.
“President Obama’s plan cuts the debt, honors our values and brightens the future for our children, our families and our nation,” Clinton told the crowd. “Plus, it’s a heck of a lot better. It passes the arithmetic test and, more importantly, it passes the values test.”
Clinton added, “If you want a future of shared prosperity, where the middle class is growing and poverty is declining, where the American Dream is alive and well, and where the United States remains the leading force for peace and justice and prosperity in a highly competitive world, then you have to vote for Barack Obama.”