FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers her State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers her State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reminded America that “Democracy is a team sport” during Monday’s Democratic National Convention speeches.

LANSING, MI — Monday night the Democratic Party responded to the global pandemic with a historic virtual national convention. And Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer broadcast to the convention from the United Auto Workers hall in Lansing. 

Gov. Whitmer, who was one of the finalists in the running mate selection process, has hailed the selection of California Sen. Kamala Harris as former Vice President Joe Biden running mate. She has been an impassioned supporter of Biden’s candidacy.

During her convention speech, Whitmer hit on three key points about how important Michigan has been to the nation and what a Biden-Harris victory would mean to Michigan.

How Michigan Responded to the Coronavirus

Michigan set an example to the nation of a swift, effective coronavirus response. In spite of being one of the hardest-hit states, Gov. Whitmer’s response to the pandemic almost immediately showed results in slowing the pandemic’s spread. And despite high-profile protests, her actions during the pandemic have remained popular among Michiganders. 

“From the jump, we took this pandemic seriously in Michigan,” she said. “We listened to medical experts. We planned. And with a lot of work from the auto workers and too little help from the White House, we executed our plan. We saved thousands of lives.”

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That wasn’t true nationwide. Each state has been left to chart its own course through the pandemic, and some states have fared better than others. For instance, while Michigan’s largely vote-by-mail elections have been a record-shattering success, the in-person elections in other states have been disastrous

“Just imagine if we had a national plan,” Gov. Whitmer said. “With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House, we will.”

How Biden Helped Save the Auto Industry

Gov. Whitmer connected Michigan’s coronavirus response to the support that Biden and former President Barack Obama gave the automotive industry in the wake of the disastrous 2008 recession. 

She argued that this rescue of a cornerstone of American manufacturing made it possible, a decade later, for the auto industry to shift focus to producing ventilators and personal protective equipment in response to the global crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Let me break it down,” Gov. Whitmer said. “President Obama and Vice President Biden saved these workers’ livelihoods, then these workers did their part to save American lives.”

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That, she said, is core to what a democracy is. Saving the auto industry led to the auto industry producing lifesaving equipment in a future crisis because, as she put it, “Democracy is a team sport.”

And that is part of the greater narrative of Americans coming together and moving forward through crises, she explained. 

“That’s the story of this great nation. Action begets action. Progress begets brogress. And when we work together, we can accomplish anything.”

The Essentialness of Workers

That triumphant cooperation she finds core to democracy hinged on everyday Michiganders. Both those in the auto industry and those providing other sorts of services now thought of as essential. 

“Over the past few months, we’ve learned what is essential: Rising to the challenge, not denying it,” she said. “We’ve learned who is essential too: Not just the wealthiest among us, not a president who fights his fellow Americans rather than fight a virus that’s killing us and our economy. It’s the people who put their own health at risk to care for the rest of us.”

More than just healthcare workers, though, she argued that it was everyday Michiganders doing what they could during the pandemic that was truly essential. 

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The convention wasn’t the first time Gov. Whitmer and Biden have talked about workers and how everyday Michiganders are essential. In a virtual roundtable with governors early this summer, the two discussed the dignity of workers that the word ‘essential’ finally recognized. 

“The nurses and the doctors, the utility workers, truck drivers and grocery clerks, the childcare workers, the parents, the teachers, the mail carriers and the auto workers,” she said at the convention. “They are the MVPs.”

She also mourned the thousands of those essential workers who have lost their lives during the pandemic. With a national death toll approaching 200,000, Gov. Whitmer expressed both sorrow and optimism that America will rise to the occasion, as Michigan has.