Four years ago, the Democratic National Convention was Hillary Clinton’s victory party.
After her unexpectedly grueling primary fight against Senator Bernie Sanders and some painful preconvention maneuvering, the event became a four-day celebration of the nominee who many Democrats assumed would soon become the United States’ first female president.
But the time since has felt like dog years, politically speaking, and when Mrs. Clinton appears via livestream tonight at the Democratic convention, she’ll be addressing a party that has drifted leftward since her defeat in 2016.
Mrs. Clinton’s remarks — coming 100 years and one day after women won the right to vote in this country — will be part of a block of convention speeches labeled “A More Perfect Society.” She will be followed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Hilda Solis, the former labor secretary; and Senator Elizabeth Warren, among others, according to D.N.C. materials distributed to reporters today. Those materials appeared to suggest that Mrs. Clinton’s speech would fall within the first half of the event, meaning that she won’t make it onto the broadcast TV networks, which are carrying only the second hour.
2016 vs. 2020
As my colleagues Lisa Lerer and Glenn Thrush reported in an article today, Mrs. Clinton has been a strong behind-the-scenes supporter of Joe Biden’s candidacy since last year, when she decided against mounting another run for president. And she has remained broadly popular among Democrats: Mrs. Clinton continues to hold cachet within the party for having been the first female presidential nominee in the country’s history, and for proudly embracing her role in the fight for gender equity.
But the differences between Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign this year and her own four years ago show how much the party has shifted since 2016.
That year, Mr. Sanders and his allies exerted significant influence on the party platform written in the run-up to the convention, and Mrs. Clinton adopted a few of his policy ideas — though often in tempered form. Yet her general-election campaign ended up feeling a lot like her primary run: Under the truistic mantra “Stronger Together,” she took no great pains to separate herself from the Obama administration, or to associate her candidacy with a trademark policy pledge. On foreign affairs, she sometimes lined up to the right of the president under whom she had served as secretary of state.
Mr. Biden won the nomination largely by consolidating his support among centrist and suburban voters, but in many ways he has tacked to the left since becoming the presumptive nominee. In a campaign straitjacketed by the coronavirus pandemic, his newsiest moments have come when he has announced policy plans — most of which have left liberals surprised and, sometimes, nearly satisfied. Those include a $2 trillion plan to fight climate change while creating millions of union jobs (some have called it the “Green New Deal” in all but name) and a $775 billion proposal to support caregivers.
The fact that “Build Back Better” has emerged as Mr. Biden’s campaign catchphrase — not to be confused, of course, with “No Malarkey,” his official campaign-bus slogan, or “God love ya,” his unofficial Scrantonian signifier — suggests that he sees a tailored version of bold progressivism as part of the path to defeating President Trump, even as he emphasizes that a Biden administration would also be a return to normal after four years of the president’s tradition-busting and treaty-breaking.
As Lisa and Glenn wrote in their article today, Mrs. Clinton plans to focus equally tonight on criticizing Mr. Trump and uplifting Mr. Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris. (Ms. Harris will close the night with an acceptance speech of her own.) It’s a not-uncomplicated task, given that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Biden — though longtime friends — were backstage rivals leading into the 2016 election as both considered presidential runs, and that, for Democrats, any mention of Mr. Trump by her inevitably brings back sore memories of her defeat.
Then again, former President Bill Clinton, her husband, managed exactly that balance, between bashing Mr. Trump and extolling the Democratic ticket, in a short and pithy speech last night that earned broad praise. And when it comes to Democrats whose politics have come to feel passé, there’s nobody who fits that description better than he does. So what’s to say Mrs. Clinton won’t be able to pull off something similar?
Who else will speak tonight
This evening’s proceedings will begin with short remarks from Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin, whose struggle to expand mail-in voting in his state’s primary this spring presaged the bitter battles that are still playing out between Democrats and Republicans over how to carry out the November election.
In addition to a number of other major speeches, there will be a series of video presentations featuring immigrants talking about the difficulties they have faced during Mr. Trump’s term.
The evening will culminate with major speeches from former President Barack Obama, followed by the official nomination of Ms. Harris as the vice-presidential nominee. Ms. Harris will deliver an acceptance speech, and then the singer and actress Jennifer Hudson will end the evening with a musical performance.
The logistics are roughly the same as yesterday: The telecast starts at 9 p.m.; you can watch and read our reporters’ live analysis at nytimes.com. CNN, MSNBC and PBS will show the full two-hour broadcast, while Fox News and the major broadcast TV networks will air only the second half of the event.
In other news …
Facebook has generally been more reluctant than some other social media companies to ban content deemed politically divisive and potentially harmful. But today Facebook announced a sweeping action to rein in followers of QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory contending that Mr. Trump’s foes are Satan worshipers who run a global child sex-trafficking ring.
Facebook said today that it had removed 790 QAnon-affiliated groups from its site and was restricting another 1,950 groups, 440 pages and more than 10,000 Instagram accounts. The conspiracy theory’s online influence has spiked during the pandemic, with activity on some of its largest Facebook groups rising by 200 to 300 percent over the past six months, according to data gathered by The New York Times.
“We have seen growing movements that, while not directly organizing violence, have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them, or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior,” Facebook said in a statement.
The move comes almost one month after Twitter announced the removal of thousands of QAnon-aligned accounts.
House Democrats today asked the Government Accountability Office to open an investigation into how the Trump administration is handling coronavirus information, saying it is generating flawed data that “undermine the nation’s Covid-19 response.”
Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services ordered hospitals to stop sending data on caseloads, deaths, bed capacity and other metrics to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, that information is now being routed to TeleTracking Technologies, a private vendor based in Pittsburgh.
In their letter today, the top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote: “Not only have H.H.S.’s actions seemingly sidelined the nation’s top public health officials, but they have also reportedly led to unnecessary confusion, additional burden on critical Covid-19 response professionals, and the loss of timely and reliable data, all in the midst of the pandemic when people’s lives are at stake.”
Drop us a line!
We want to hear from our readers. Have a question? We’ll try to answer it. Have a comment? We’re all ears. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading. On Politics is your guide to the political news cycle, delivering clarity from the chaos.
On Politics is also available as a newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox.
Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at email@example.com.