It’s convention time in US politics — the week-long celebrations held by each major party to pump up the candidate they’ve chosen to put before American voters for November’s election.
As the opposition party in 2020, the Democrats will be the first to hold their event this week, from Tuesday until Friday AEST.
Because of coronavirus, this will be an all-online affair, which makes things easier than ever for US politics junkies in Australia to watch. Starting at 10:00am AEST every day, Democrats will run an hour of entertainment, followed by two hours of speeches from a bunch of the biggest progressive political stars in the US.
If you’ve never watched a convention before (or if you’re not super familiar with US politics), never fear. Think of this as your TV guide — the speeches and events worth setting an alarm for in the next week. All you need to bring is the popcorn.
Day One: Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders set the tone
There are two heavy hitters to open up the first day of the convention — Senator Bernie Sanders and Former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Sanders gets a prime time slot less than six months after being the final candidate vanquished by Joe Biden in the Democratic primary race (and hanging around longer than Biden’s team would have liked when it was clear the contest was over).
Sanders and Biden have reconciled in a far more public way than Sanders and Clinton did in 2016, so don’t expect sour grapes from the Senator from Vermont.
And Michelle Obama needs no introduction. She’s still one of the most beloved figures in American public life, who sold out stadiums for her book tour in 2018.
While the former first lady ruled out jumping into the political fray in the role of candidate at this election, that doesn’t mean she’ll be quiet on the campaign trail.
US media have reported that Obama will go after US President Donald Trump “hard” but in an “artful” way. This is one of the most anticipated speeches of the convention. Don’t miss it.
Both are scheduled to speak in the second half of the night, beginning at noon AEST.
Day Two: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets her (literal) minute, Bill Clinton steps up
Democrats will aim for a traditional feel to their convention with what they call a “Roll Call Across America”. They’ll be checking in on 57 states and territories Eurovision-style as Joe Biden is officially named the Democratic nominee for the 2020 election.
There are two early speeches you’ll want to tune in for. One from former Acting US Attorney General Sally Yates, who was dismissed by Trump just seven days into his presidency after she refused to enforce his travel ban executive order.
The other is from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has reportedly only been given one minute to speak. She referenced the short time limit with a poem on Twitter which includes the line “But I know I must use it”. Count on the congresswoman known as AOC to only need 60 seconds to make a headline.
After that, it’ll be the first of two speeches from a former US president at the convention when Bill Clinton gets his turn.
Biden’s wife Jill will close out day two.
Both of these speeches are scheduled to begin from noon AEST.
Day Three: A blockbuster with Billie Eilish and Trump’s favourite ‘Bad Guys’
This might be the biggest night of the convention and it doesn’t even feature Joe Biden.
For a start, there’s going to be a performance from Hottest 100 winner Billie Eilish.
Then there’s Senator Elizabeth Warren, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Catch all of that beginning from 11:00am AEST.
How do you top that for the second half of the night?
How about freshly minted vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris followed by former US president Barack Obama.
Early polls showed voters giving the Harris pick a thumbs up. In her first speech after being chosen, the Senator from California said she was ready to prosecute the case against Trump. Expect fireworks.
Obama has stayed largely quiet since he left office. But he’s slowly been involving himself in the 2020 campaign. Will he go after Trump? Or is his job here to deliver the kind of “hope and change” rallying cry that fired up Democrats the last time they won the White House?
Harris and Obama will hit the virtual stage from noon AEST.
Day Four: Rising stars in the spotlight before Joe Biden closes it out
This one starts early with Donald Trump. You read that right, the US President has scheduled a speech just a few minutes’ drive from Biden’s hometown on this final day (yes, it’s absolutely being viewed as an attempt to sabotage Biden’s big convention moment).