Here Are The Most Intriguing Statements From Democrats And 2020 Contenders At Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Convention

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Democrats made eyebrow-raising statements about identity politics and hot-button policy issues before a largely black audience in New York this week at the National Action Network Convention.

Democratic A-listers, including every leading presidential candidate, are speakers this year at the annual conference for the civil rights group Rev. Al Sharpton founded. It kicked off Wednesday and runs through Saturday.

Rising party leaders such as former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and businessman Andrew Yang are also on the list.

The convention will “provide an opportunity to revisit the current state of the national civil rights movement in America,” according to the organization’s website.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who spoke Wednesday, used his podium time to take potshots at President Donald Trump and stressed the theme of division and fear-mongering.

“We’ve got to make sure that we confront those who will use fear to hold onto that power as our president uses fear to hold on to that power, to make us angry, to keep us apart, to make us fearful of one another and even of ourselves,” the 2020 Democratic contender said.

Speakers also sought to temper the results of a booming American economy, which has seen record lows in black unemployment and quarterly growth due to the administration’s tax cuts and regulation reforms.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 Democrat, undermined the idea that a strong American economy is good for everybody Thursday. “The idea that a rising tide lifts all boats just isn’t true,” he said.

Identity politics also proved to be a running theme at the convention. Abrams, who has not decided yet on whether she will be running for political office, stated in her Wednesday speech: “I believe in identity politics, and I believe identity politics are the only politics that win.”

Abrams, who lost the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race to GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, framed her defeat in terms of voter discrimination and civil rights.

Castro, who served in the Obama administration, hit on the theme of universal pre-K Wednesday. “We need universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds in our country so that everybody gets a strong start in life,” the presidential candidate said.

Yang, also running in the Democratic 2020 field, touts himself as “the opposite of Donald Trump.” He laid out his campaign platform Wednesday, which includes dispensing with private prisons and giving all Americans $1,000 per month.

“I would legalize marijuana and then I would pardon everyone who’s in jail for a nonviolent drug-related offense. I would pardon them on April 20, 2021 and I would high-five them on the way out of jail,” Yang said.

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