DNC feels the Bern
It was supposed to be the coronation of America’s first female presidential nominee, but viewers of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia may be hard pressed to understand just who the nominee is.
As historic as Tuesday night’s Democratic Party nomination of Hillary Clinton was, it is still seemingly overshadowed by the vocal support for her party rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the embarrassing leak of internal Democratic National Committee emails that seem to prove what many had been alleging all along: party leaders wanted a Clinton candidacy and were willing to throw monkey wrenches in competing campaigns to see that happen.
The leak made its impact before the convention even started as party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced she would step down and acting chair Donna Brazile issued an apology to the Sanders campaign and anybody else who was offended by the emails.
Meanwhile, the DNC and Clinton campaign have spent the first days of the convention trying to swing coverage and support back into her column. But many of those efforts have been futile as the major images coming from the Wells Fargo Center are of boos drowning out speakers, protesters parading through city streets and many covering their mouths with duct tape: a symbol that their democratic voice had been silenced by backroom deals.
“Hell no, D.N.C.! We won’t vote for Hillary!” Sanders’ supporters chanted as Democratic delegates walked into the convention hall Monday night. “Lock her up!”
Sanders did his best to try to quell the uprising that he birthed: holding a Center City rally to once again try to sway his supporters to support Clinton and even emailing campaign members asking them to not protest on the convention floor.
Bernie’s requests fell on many deaf ears, however, as the populist idea that he cultivated and encouraged has now outgrown the candidate.
“As beloved as Bernie is, he’s not running the show,” Norman Solomon, a Sanders delegate from California, told the New York Times.
The Times noted that the “defiant displays of disobedience revealed the fissures in Sanders’s movement, which has splintered into seemingly implacable camps. There are the true believers, who chant ‘Bernie or Bust.’ There are disillusioned voters who are gravitating toward (Donald) Trump. And there are pragmatists who have given up the fight and will back Clinton.”
Liz Maratea, 31, a delegate from New Jersey, told the Times she refuses to lay down arms and accept Clinton as the nominee. “She has the moral depth of a thimble,” she said. “Are we supposed to take this, or are we supposed to rise up?”
Thinking like that may be the Democrats’ biggest stumbling block for the November election as Sanders did remarkably well for an activist candidate. Over the course of the primaries, Sanders collected more than 13.1 million votes versus Clinton’s 16.8 million. Even after the Associated Press called the primary in favor of Clinton on the polling of superdelegates, nearly 2.4 million people in California turned out to cast ballots for Sanders and more than 500,000 more in additional states even later on.
If even a sizable fraction of those voters choose not to support Clinton — or worse yet, support Trump — then the Democrats’ drive to the White House becomes much more bumpy.
Whether you support Trump and/or the Republican Party or not, one thing the Republican National Committee did well in Cleveland last week was coalesce its party support for the stretch run to the general election.
In Philadelphia, Democrats may be lucky if the Sanders and Clinton camps leave the City of Brotherly Love without throwing some chairs.