Why did AOC nominate Bernie Sanders at the DNC?

Thursday, August 20, 2020
AOC speaks at the DNC

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at the DNC.

Understanding the Role of Delegates at the DNC

Read the summary, watch the video  of AOC at the DNC (see transcript), and answer the discussion questions. 

Definition: In the presidential nominating process, delegates are individuals chosen to represent the votes of state or territory primary results at the nominating convention. Delegates formally nominate the winner of presidential primaries and caucuses. For more on the nomination process, see the extension activity below.

Summary: The Democratic National Convention continued on Tuesday, August 18, with formal delegate nominations of Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate for president. The night featured short speeches from delegates from every state and territory.

  • The Democrats sought to emphasize Biden’s wide base of support by featuring conservative and Republican speakers along with more progressive members of the Democratic party.
  • Some viewers were surprised, however, when Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke and seconded the nomination of Bernie Sanders, one of Biden’s primary opponents and a leader of the progressive flank of the party. 
  • Ocasio-Cortez had been asked by the party to perform the role of seconding the nomination of Sanders, who won the second-most delegates during primaries and caucuses in the spring.


Discussion Questions:

A. Warm up questions:

  1. What are delegates and what role do they play in nominating conventions?
  2. Why do some delegates nominate a different candidate than the official party nominee?

B. Focus questions:

  1. Why do you think a convention would feature speakers that didn’t support a nominee during the primaries (even if they support them now)?
  2. What values and goals does Ocasio-Cortez mention as representing ambitions of the Democratic party?

C. Media literacy: Why do you think some news outlets presented Ocasio-Cortez’s nomination of Sanders as controversial, even though it was formal and routine?

Extension Activity:

Want to dig deeper into the ways the presidential nominating process works from primary to convention? Use this resource from iCivics to learn more about the presidential nomination process. Note: You’ll need to register for a free iCivics account in order to access the lesson plan. In this lesson, students will learn:

  • Describe the role of political parties.
  • Explain the role of national conventions in the political process.
  • Identify key dates for national elections.
  • Contrast primaries and caucuses as ways to nominate someone within a political party.
  • Describe the electoral process in primary elections.


Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.