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upworthy

democratic national convention

via Joe Biden / YouTube

Kristin Urquiza isn't running for the House of Representatives or the Senate. She isn't a governor or up-and-coming mayor. But her speech on the first night of the Democratic National Convention was one of its most moving.

Kristin lost her father, Mark, in June to COVID-19. In her speech, she shared how it wouldn't have happened if President Trump and his "mouthpieces" spoke honestly about the seriousness of the pandemic.

"He had faith in Donald Trump," she said. "[He] listened to him, believed him and his mouthpieces when they said that coronavirus was under control and going to disappear; that it was OK to end social distancing rules before it was safe and that if you had no underlying health conditions."



Kristin Urquiza speech at the Democratic Convention | Joe Biden For President 2020www.youtube.com

Mark went out to a karaoke bar in May, right after the state of Arizona prematurely reopened businesses, and contracted COVID-19. He was placed on a ventilator and died June 30.

"After five agonizing days, he died alone in the ICU with a nurse holding his hand," she said.

Dealing with the death of a family member is devastating for anyone, but for the Urquiza family it was even worse because they couldn't comfort him while he was in the hospital.

Kristen said goodbye to him over Facetime.

"One of the last things that my father said to me was that he felt betrayed by the likes of Donald Trump," Urquiza said. "And so, when I cast my vote for Joe Biden, I will do it for my dad."

Urquiza belives that Trump didn't cause the virus, "but his dishonesty and his irresponsible actions made it so much worse."

"The coronavirus has made clear that there are two Americas: the America that Donald Trump lives in and the America that my father died in," she said.

Trump's False Statements on COVID-19 Testing, A Supercut | NowThiswww.youtube.com

Kristen's testimony was powerful because it proves that there are real-world consequences when people in power lie.

Trump has been one of the most dishonest politicians in recent history. As of July 2020, The Washington Post has counted Trump lying over 20,000 times. Even though it's blatantly obvious to most people in the country that he shouldn't be trusted on any issue — let alone a deadly pandemic — there are millions who still take his word as gospel.

A recent poll by NBC News found that "58 percent of Americans say they don't trust what Trump has said about the pandemic, while 31 percent say they do trust his comments."

Trump's reckless dishonesty makes him an accomplice to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, one of them being Mark Urquiza.

In early February, Trump claimed the virus would weaken "when we get to April, in the warmer weather." Later that month, he said it would "disappear" one day, "like a miracle."

In June, he claimed the virus was "fading away" and in July it was "under control."

Kristin Urquiza will long be remembered for putting a face to the COVID-19 pandemic. Let's hope that her tragic story will make those in power think a second time before lying about serious, life-or-death issues.



The conventions are over, and I'm still worried. I suspect I'm not alone.

Photo via iStock.


I'm a pretty simple guy. My needs are basic. I like walking in the park and taking naps. I like being able to say whatever I want and practice my religion without fear of harassment or prosecution. I appreciate when my black, brown, female, and LGBTQ friends and family members have basic civil rights. I want my country to be safe and respected in the world.

Unfortunately, that's all in jeopardy. Because this guy...

Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images.

...who has a well-documented history of bigotry against Mexicans and Muslims, who wants to transform NATO into a mafia protection racket, who plays footsie with white supremacists, who deploys anti-Semitic dog whistles, who publicly dehumanizes women, who voices hostility toward the First Amendment's protections of freedom of speech and religion, and who calls on a foreign government to hack his opponent's emails, could be our next president.

And the polls have gotten closer. Too close for comfort. Trump could actually win this thing.

But hope springs eternal! Hope never dies!

Hope, believe it or not, floats.

If you're as appalled as I am that Donald (freaking) Trump could be the leader of the free world come November, there are a few things that still make me optimistic that he never, ever will be:

I'm hanging on to these things for dear life. I hope they help.

1. The current polling — which shows Trump pulling into a tie — isn't necessarily how things are going to shake out in November.

Despite Trump's recent gains, as of July 29, FiveThirtyEight's "Polls Plus" forecast, which takes into account current polling and adjusts for historical trends, finds a 60% chance of the former "Apprentice" host going down in November.


Dear God, please be right, Nate Silver. Please be right. Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images.

According to Josh Katz and Kevin Quealy of the New York Times, the period surrounding the party conventions is one of "high polling volatility," and averages taken around this time tend to miss final result by nearly 8 percentage points. Trump, just off his vice presidential rollout and convention, is likely enjoying a similar bump to what both Mitt Romney and John McCain experienced four and eight years ago, respectively.

Still, even a 40% chance of Trump becoming president is way too high...

2. Which is why we should be grateful that Michelle Obama is such a boss that not even Trump will step to her.

You know that scene in a movie where the good guys are getting their asses kicked, and they're all huddled together in a room, and one of them says: "We're outnumbered. We don't have a chance." But then Samuel L. Jackson says, "Yes, we do." And he opens a closet door to reveal a huge, futuristic bazooka as warm, celestial light spills out from behind it?

That's basically what happened when Michelle Obama spoke at the first night of the 2016 DNC.

Image via CNN/YouTube.

You've already seen the highlights. You know how good she was.

She was so good that Trump, not one to shrink from a third-grade Twitter insult — who, indeed, tweeted attacks against nearly every other speaker on the stage that night — didn't dare deploy a comeback against the first lady.

For the next three and a half months, we have that bazooka in our arsenal.

I feel pretty good about that.

3. Karla Ortiz bravely took the stage at the DNC with her undocumented mother and challenged us all to do something about immigration reform.

What was the bravest thing you did recently? For me, it was yesterday when the deli I stopped at for lunch was out of regular Diet Coke, so I drank the caffeine-free kind instead.

For Karla Ortiz, an 11-year-old from Florida who likes doing science experiments and searching for rare rocks, it was risking her family's safety and security to call out Donald Trump's racist immigration policy in front of millions of people.

Karla Ortiz and her mother. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

"I don't feel brave every day. On most days, I'm scared," Ortiz said, proudly making everyone in the audience feel ashamed for complaining about the lack of detachable hangers in their hotel rooms just a few hours earlier.

"I'm scared that, at any moment, my mom and my dad will be forced to leave. And I wonder, 'What if I come home and find it empty?'" she said, ironically revealing that her guts are made of goddamn iron.

She said these things on TV, in full view of thousands of political foes of immigration reform, violent racists, and immigration authorities. The risk she took is scarily real, especially if Trump becomes president.

But she did it anyway. Because it's just that important.

If she can do that, the least we can do is tell our bosses we need to take a long lunch on Nov. 8 to go vote him the hell out of all our lives forever.

4. Non-Democrat Michael Bloomberg made the clarifying, simple, devastating case against Trump to independent voters.

Bloomberg is not a typical person. Like Trump, he's a billionaire. Unlike Trump, he definitely, actually is a billionaire.

He's also no one's idea of a left-wing fire-breather. He was a Republican mayor of New York City and is now a zealous independent.

In his speech at the 2016 DNC, he criticized both parties. But ultimately, he really stuck it to Trump, delivering, perhaps, the best one-liner of the week:

Ultimately, to defeat Trump, there just needs to be a constituency for sanity and competence. That's a low bar.

And I believe we can leap it with room to spare.

5. Ted Cruz pointedly refused to endorse Trump at his own convention, an inspiring move in its own right.

If there's one politician who I hope stays nearly as far away from the White House as Donald Trump, it's Ted Cruz. Pick 10 issues at random and Ted Cruz and I probably disagree on 11 of them. I think his program for America would make pretty much everything worse. Profoundly worse.

Thing is, Ted Cruz, for all his many faults, actually respects the Constitution. And in his speech at the RNC, Cruz refused, over a chorus of jeers, to endorse Trump.

"Vote your conscience," he said.

Yay? Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Whether it was revenge for Trump spending the last days of the GOP primary attacking Cruz's wife's mental health and suggesting with absolutely no evidence that Cruz's father might have helped assassinate John F. Kennedy, or simply an attempt to stand up for Cruz's (admittedly pretty messed-up) principles, it was invigorating and, yes, even inspiring.

Self-serving or not, if someone I disagree so intensely and so completely with can refuse to get behind Trump, it gives me hope that thousands (millions?) more like him are out there.

6. The stage at the DNC looked like the real America, not the "real America."

For years, politicians have sold us a story of a "real America." There are good things about this America — small businesses have a steady stream of customers there, the bunting is festive, and the desserts are really, ridiculously sweet. But ultimately, it seems to be an America that's pretty exclusively white, pretty exclusively Christian, and pretty exclusively rural — and occasionally suburban.

At the DNC, we saw a different — but just as real — America. That America includes:

Dozens of black, Latino, LGBTQ, and female officeholders from big cities and small towns across the country.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

A Muslim-American father, who spoke eloquently and emotionally about the death of his U.S. soldier son — and defended the Constitution against Trump's call to place an immigration ban on an entire religion.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The first out trans woman to speak at a party convention.

Photo by Saul Loeb/Getty Images.

And, of course, the first woman ever nominated to run on a major party ticket for president, which — whether or not you agree with her politics or like her as a person — is still a pretty huge deal.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

That America isn't a story. It's real.

If it can hang together, then this thing should be in the bag.

7. Even though democracy can be scary — OK, terrifying — at times, it's still pretty great.

As bad as things seem, as horrifyingly close Donald Trump might be to the White House, the fact that we get to watch passionate people spend two weeks in July arguing via speeches, original songs, and funny hats about who would be a better president — and then actually getting to choose which one we like best — is pretty inspiring.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Just ask this guy:

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

...who on the third night of the DNC showed up to deliver a rousing defense of democracy.

He shouldn't even have to say it, but he's right.

You can disagree with this person's thoughts on the Second Amendment:

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Or with these people's feelings about Citizens United:

Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images.

But that doesn't matter even a little bit if you don't vote.

We don't have to sit around biting our nails. We don't have to worry about others making decisions about who's going to lead us without our consent. We don't have a king or a generalissimo or whatever. This is America, dammit.

And in America, we still have the right to choose.

Photo by Michael Owen Baker/Getty Images.

This November, let's make sure we use it to fire Donald Trump.

Click here to register to vote.

More

For the first time ever, a transgender woman addressed the DNC.

Sarah McBride's tireless work earned her a spot on a national stage to share an important message.

Just four short years ago, American University's then-student government president Sarah McBride came out as transgender in an editorial for the school's newspaper.

"With every birthday candle extinguished, with every penny thrown, my wish was always the same," she wrote. "I am now blessed with the opportunity to live my dream and fulfill a truth I have known since childhood. My gratitude is great to my family, friends and this university for accepting me as the person who they now know me to be, and for letting me show them the possibilities of a life well lived."

From that day forward, she committed herself to making the world a better, fairer place for LGBTQ people.


LGBT rights activist Sarah McBride and co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, at the Democratic National Convention on July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

McBride was set on pursuing a career pushing to create a more just society through public policy — if she still could. She was scared.

"When I came out, I think like most folks, I was really scared," she told me earlier this week by phone. "I was worried that my professional career would be over and that my hopes and my dreams wouldn't be able to coexist with who I am."

Before coming out, she had worked for Delaware Governor Jack Markell and former state Attorney General Beau Biden. Still, she worried that being trans would stand in the way of a successful career. All she could do was work hard and hope for the best.

Senator Al Franken and Sarah McBride attend the Human Rights Campaign Los Angeles Gala on March 14, 2015. Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign.

After college — and after coming out — McBride got a job at the Center for American Progress and became the first openly trans woman to intern at the White House. She's currently the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBTQ rights organization.

Pretty impressive resume, right? And she's just getting started.

On Thursday, July 28, 2016, Sarah again made history, becoming the first transgender person to speak at a major political party's nominating convention.

Working together with the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's team, the Congressional LGBT caucus set aside a speaking spot for someone to advocate on behalf of trans rights. A powerful, media-savvy public speaker, McBride was a clear choice.


GIFs from PBS Newshour/YouTube.

During her speech, Sarah spoke about her own background and also the impact her husband Andy had on her activism.

"For me, this struggle for equality became all the more urgent when I learned that my future husband, Andrew, was battling cancer," she told the crowd. "I met Andy, who was a transgender man, fighting for equality, and we fell in love. And even in the face of his terminal illness, this 28-year-old, he never wavered in his commitment to our cause and his belief that this country can change. We married in 2014, and just four days after our wedding, he passed away."


"Knowing Andy left me profoundly changed," she continued. "More than anything, his passing taught me that every day matters when it comes to building a world where every person can live their life to the fullest."

McBride's message couldn't come at a better time. With trans rights coming to the forefront of politics this election cycle, voices like hers are more important than ever.

While LGBTQ rights have taken leaps forward over the past few years, gaining rights for transgender people has been a slower process.

Certain states, like North Carolina, have instituted outright anti-trans laws that have harmed and dehumanized trans people. Others have joined in lawsuits against the federal government's trans-inclusive interpretation of Title IX. All the while, the rate of violence against trans people — especially trans women of color — remains much too high, while this community is simultaneously at an economic disadvantage.

In other words, it's rough out there, and this election is going to be really important, especially for the trans community.

While the Republican party has committed to what's been called the most anti-LGBTQ platform in the party's history, the Democratic party has pledged to stand firm on rights for this group. Many issues — such as that North Carolina law — are likely to be determined in the federal and Supreme courts. Others — such as employment, housing, and public accommodations protections — exist in the form of legislation that will need to make it through Congress.

As a country, we've reached a crossroads. Do we want to be a nation that simply accepts discrimination as a reality? Or do we want to stand for the rights of all citizens, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or country of origin?

On July 28, 2016, Sarah McBride made history. Hopefully soon it will no longer be considered notable for a trans person to address crowds at conventions like this.

Being 1 out of 133 speakers at the DNC means that trans people were represented at the convention (0.75%) at roughly the same rate they exist in the world (an estimated 0.6% of the population).

By focusing on inclusion and representation, we can be assured that all Americans, no matter how small their group, have a voice in our society.

Watch Sarah McBride's powerful DNC speech below.


That President Barack Obama, he sure knows how to give a speech.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.


So it's no surprise that on July 27, 2016, the house was packed as the 44th U.S. president addressed the nation at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

He was there to stump for his former rival and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, of course.

Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images.

But his speech was about so much more than that.

While Obama certainly had a few digs for candidate Donald Trump up his sleeve and made sure to tout the high points of his own time in the White House, he also had some inspiring stuff to say about the power of creating our own America through the ballot box — regardless if we vote red or blue.

1. Obama pointed out that we have to care about democracy 365 days a year — not just one Tuesday in November.

"If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote — not just for a president, but for mayors and sheriffs and state’s attorneys and state legislators," the president explained.

2. He made sure to note it's totally fine if you don't always agree with everything a candidate is saying. In fact, that's actually sort of the point.

What you shouldn't do, the president implored, is abstain from the voting process because you don't see your views fully represented. The only way to make change is to get involved yourself.

3. The president reminded listeners that tomorrow isn't something to be afraid of — it's something we create with our actions.

That's kind of what makes America so great.

4. Obama also acknowledged change can't happen without a lot of hard work from the ground up from people like you and me.

One of the great things about the internet is that it's made getting involved with politics easier than ever. While Obama was talking specifically about the DNC's own organizing arm, it's never been more clear that the future of politics and political organizing lies with the younger generations of people who are just getting involved for the first time.

5. He ensured us that, even when times get tough, real change is within reach if we work hard enough.

6. He even gave a shout-out to a political revolution that will likely shape election landscapes for years to come.

7. And with three simple words, Obama reminded us disparaging your opponent may be easy, but it doesn't produce results.

When the crowd erupted in "boos" at the mention of Trump's name, Obama was quick to reiterate that booing is not democracy in action — organizing, canvassing, making phone calls, and voting is.

The president knows that a great speech or inspiring quote means nothing if it doesn't spark real action.

Take a hint from the president — even if he didn't win your vote — and cast a ballot this November for your candidate. Register to vote today.