Democratic convention’s opening theme had an assist from La Jollans

Eva Longoria speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 17
Actress Eva Longoria speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 17. She set the stage for a diverse group of Americans reciting words from the preamble of the U.S. Constitution.
(Democratic National Convention video via AP)

‘We the people’ theme was suggested by Kashi cereal company co-founder Philip Tauber.


There’s a story behind the opening scene of the Democratic National Convention that has its roots in La Jolla.

Local attorney and former U.S. Rep. Lynn Schenk, active in Democratic politics for years, got together in late June with longtime friends Gayle and Philip Tauber.

The La Jolla couple founded Kashi cereals, which Kellogg purchased in 2000, and they once operated a popular La Jolla Shores market.

Lynn Schenk
Former U.S. Rep. Lynn Schenk relayed to Joe Biden’s campaign Philip Tauber’s idea for a political ad featuring a diverse group of Americans voicing the preamble of the Constitution. The idea played out at the opening of the Democratic National Convention.

In an earlier email to Schenk, Philip Tauber floated his idea of a political ad featuring Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the microphone encircled by a diverse group of Americans with U.S. flags lined up behind them. He envisioned them voicing the preamble of the U.S. Constitution beginning with “We the people.”

He elaborated on his vision when they got together June 28.

Schenk, who hasn’t missed attending a Democratic convention since 1976, said she got chills and pounced on the imagery. Did Tauber mind if she relayed his idea to the Biden campaign?

After being assured that was fine, she emailed him the next day: “I sent your idea for the commercial to Biden’s campaign chairman.”

Steve Ricchetti, who had served as then-Vice President Biden’s chief of staff, loved the idea, Schenk said, and forwarded it to Biden’s campaign marketing team.

Tauber replied: “Hopefully they get the powerful message that uniting and mending our culture while showing patriotism, diversity and founding ideals of what truly makes America great can work. Let’s see!”

Fast forward to last week’s opening night of the virtual Democratic National Convention.

Much to the surprise of both Schenk and the Taubers, the opening scene played out as if it had been scripted by their conversation nearly two months earlier — not as a 30-second commercial, however, but as an introduction to the convention itself.

After a greeting from actress Eva Longoria, video cameras flashed on a diverse succession of Americans of all ages, colors and ethnic backgrounds, sometimes individually and sometimes in unison, reciting the opening words “We the people” and other portions of the 52-word preamble to the Constitution.

“I almost fell off my chair,” Tauber said. “I was just flabbergasted.”

It bothered him that there has been so much fighting on so many fronts of late. “It’s all been about protests and anger and Republicans vs. Democrats,” he said. “What I was envisioning was a united America. I was thinking, how do we as ordinary citizens re-remember why America is what it is?

“‘We the people’ is most appropriate. It did what I wanted and brought a unity to Democrats. I had a warm feeling in my heart.”

Tauber is reluctant to take credit, however. “I don’t know that I had anything to do with it other than just giving it a push,” he said. “I can’t believe no one from the Democratic Party came up with a ‘uniting Americans’ theme.”

Schenk said she also was taken by surprise as the convention debuted. She gave a shout-out online as soon as the segment aired.

“I am thrilled that the theme ‘We the people’ came from an idea put forth by my good friend Phil Tauber,” she posted. “The opening gave me chills.”

Malik Haughton, Democratic Lawyers Council director on the Democratic National Committee, quickly responded, “Thanks to you and Phil.” ◆