Night one of the Democratic National Convention on Monday was about the issue on top of every Democrats mind: unity.

It’s no secret that Democrats struggled to come together in 2016. Bernie Sanders was late to endorse Hillary Clinton and hundreds of thousands of progressives voted third party – most for Green Party candidate Jill Stein – or sat 2016 out.

The primary in 2016 had been so full of vitriol with prominent lefties, including Sanders himself, arguing that Clinton and Trump were two sides of the same coin. His supporters listened.

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Not this time around, though. Democrats aren’t taking any chances.

Headlining the first evening of the convention with Sanders, the leader of the progressive movement and former first lady Michelle Obama, the second most popular Democrat behind her husband, signaled that we are heading into November as a party fused together by our shared values and goals for the future of America.

Both Sanders and Obama were clear: we must unify behind Biden and we must vote.

What unites us is greater than what divides us was the critical thread throughout the evening – and the remarks by everyone from Sander to Michelle Obama.

Sanders took the opportunity on Monday night to address his supporters directly, thanking them for their trust, support and love that they showed him and his family in 2016 and again in 2020. And then he got right to it.

For this unprecedented moment in history, we need an unprecedented response, he declared. Progressives created a movement built by people who will stand up and fight for democracy and decency. That movement is at risk if Biden isn’t elected on November 3rd.

“Let me say a word to the millions who supported me and 2016. Together we have moved this country in a bold direction. We all yearn for a nation on the principles based on justice, love and compassion. Our campaign ended, but our movement continues. Many of the ideas we fought for are now mainstream. Let us be clear, if Donald Trump is reelected all the progress we have been made is in jeopardy,” he said.

And in his most direct bid for unity to support a better direction for the country, Sanders added, “as long as I am here, I will work with progressives, moderates and, yes, conservatives to preserve this nation.”

It isn’t every day that Bernie Sanders talks about working with moderates, let alone with those across the aisle. But the price of failure to get Trump out of office is too large.

The price of failure in not electing Joe Biden being too great to imagine on November 3 also seamlessly connected Sanders’s speech and Michelle Obama’s, who closed out the first the evening.

This was the most overtly political Obama has been since leaving the White House. And she made it crystal clear in her speech that Trump is not up to the job. She reminded her audience that she is one of the few people who really knows what it takes to be president.

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The former first lady told Americans, “I am one of the handful people who have seen firsthand the immense weight and awesome power of the presidency. Let me tell you this, the job is hard…It requires clear-headed judgment, mastery of complex and competing issues, devotion to facts and history, moral compass and an abiding belief that each of the 330 million lives in the country has meaning and worth.”

And she also made it crystal clear that Trump is the wrong president for the time. Obama listed the ways in which we’re struggling to cope with a rise in white supremacy, immigrant kids in cages, economically and in terms of our health with the COVID-19 pandemic running rampant.

She reminded Americans, too, that Trump’s lack of character makes him unable to unify America. That instead, he is the picture of division and lack of empathy and compassion.

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What is the answer to re-unifying America? A man of character like Biden. “If we have any hope of ending this chaos we have to vote for Joe Biden,” she said. “Joe is a profoundly decent man guided by faith. He will tell the truth and trust science. He will govern as someone who has lived a life we can recognize.”

That life that we all recognize is what Americans are desperate to get back to. And by touting our ability to work through differences on our path back to normalcy, Obama gave Americans a path to change the course of history.

Critically, she called out voters who sat out 2016 saying that the stakes are too high to do it again.

Both Sanders and Obama were clear: we must unify behind Biden and we must vote.

Moreover, unity was on the mind of several other speakers this evening. Sen. Catherine Cortez Mastro, D-Nev. talked about how Americans know how to stand together and turn America around.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, was explicit. “Unity is about shared values, shared dreams. Unity isn’t about settling – it’s about striving something more. It’s about reaching out to a higher purpose.”

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke told us “there is no cavalry, we are the cavalry.”

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There’s a saying that’s often used in politics that always makes me wince. It is this: “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line” and the recent past it has been the case far too often.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., gave Democrats a roadmap for how to succeed with the 2018 midterm election and judging by night one of the DNC, it looks like we’re learning our lesson.

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