With cuteness, compassion and partisanship, Democrats laid the foundation for this fall’s campaign for the ages. Seventy-seven year old Joe Biden has been in politics for nearly fifty years, but his party is relying on him and Kamala Harris to appeal to the young and left behind to turn the page on Donald Trump’s unconventional administration.

Gone were the gaudy, sweaty conventions of yore. The virtual four-day confab was notable for stinging attacks on Trump by Democratic surrogates, including former president Barack Obama. Biden’s acceptance drew fine reviews from the television chatterers, including some conservatives. 

Democrats are famous for fissures. There was none of that as the party papered over splits among liberals and centrists, blacks and whites, men and women, young and old, Bernie stalwarts and Biden insiders. The stakes, as Biden emphasized, are too high this time. 

The much-maligned Democratic caucus and primary jousts have been forgotten. The voters, largely Black, who propelled Biden to his comeback win in South Carolina seemed to figure out who could glue the party’s fragile coalitions and chose a candidate who could unite whites and people of color. 

The tributes to Joe from his primary rivals were reminiscent of those old Sara Lee cake commercials. Nobody doesn’t like Biden.

Our slice of New England was represented by Rhode Island calamari. And of course, Massachusetts Sen. Liz Warren, the tribune of liberal policy wonkery. There was also the guy identified only as Michael from Rhode Island, a Republican for Joe. He had the accent down, even if he didn’t give his take on fried squid.

The overarching theme was that Biden is the man for this perilous moment in a country beset by sickness, recession and division. His speech was long on optimism, but short on specific policies to toss a life raft to the sinking middle class. Yet other Democrats were partisan pit bulls. Think of how much politics has changed since Obama’s 2008 acceptance, when he said that John McCain was a good man who served and loved his country. Their differences were over policies and the role of government, not character, culture or the future of democracy.

Another aspect the Democrats grasped was presenting a 21st Century mirror of a multicultural society. Now, Republicans must make their case for another term for Trump.

Trump has never accepted the traditional mantle of an incumbent president. He has governed the way he ran --as an angry outsider.

The president needs to show that he has a plan for the next four years. Until Covid 19 intruded, it appeared Trump would campaign on his tax cuts, low unemployment, trade deals and devotion to traditional values. As well as the law and order arguments that remind one of Nixon and Reagan.

The rioting that accompanied the death of George Floyd will be highlighted. Democrats will be portrayed as the defund- police party, wobbly on the Bible and the 2nd Amendment. 

One steep hill for the president is his plan for combating Covid and bringing back economic growth. Incumbents usually rely on stellar jobs reports and hope for the future. Can Republicans convince the undecided that the virus was a once-in-a-lifetime calamity that is now under control?

The president is used to large rallies with adoring supporters. How will he deal with the new virtual reality of 2020?

While Biden has a comfortable lead in polls, nothing is certain. Trump sports a strong base of older, white, rural voters. Then there is the Electoral College, which grants those voters outsized influence and whittles the race to a few swing states. As was the case in 2016, Trump can lose the popular plebiscite vote by several million and still claim the White House.

Democrats forged a convention of unity with strong reasons to support Biden. The question this week is whether Republicans can puncture that.

Scott MacKay’s commentary airs every Monday morning at 6:45 and 8:45 and at 5:44 in the afternoon.