Wednesday is "Day Three" of the Democratic National Convention. Here is my Convention report covering Wednesday morning and the Convention presentations on Tuesday.
Tuesday, of course, was "Day Two" of the Convention. To give you an idea, the photo above shows the crowd on the Floor, as former President Bill Clinton came to the podium to speak on behalf of the now-official nominee, Hillary Clinton (or Hillary RODHAM Clinton) as she is most frequently referenced.
I have always liked Barbara, and have also been rather proud that BOTH of our United States Senators are former County Supervisors. The best politics is always at the local level, where officials can better be held accountable to the people they are supposed to be representing. Some local government officials do remember how it's supposed to work, and keep in real touch with real people, even when they start operating at the national level. Barbara is certainly one of those. Another example? Bernie Sanders, the former Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, which is how I introduced him when he was campaigning against fracking in Monterey County.
Not Tuesday, but Monday, I did also see former California Governor Gray Davis, looking just like a statue on Easter Island. Through all the tumult and roiling upset on the Convention Floor, he never moved; he never smiled; he never blinked; he never even turned his head!
Much more animated was former State Treasurer Phil Angelides, who flew in from Oregon, yesterday, to vote as one of those Super Delegates. I saw him in the lobby of the Downtown Marriott, the headquarters hotel for the California delegation, and Phil appeared super relaxed, with knee-length shorts and a big smile. Phil is in frequent contact with Santa Cruz resident Cathy Calfo, his former staff member, and while I live in Santa Cruz, and might be expected to see and be in contact with Cathy more frequently than Phil, who splits his time between Sacramento and Bend, Oregon, Phil's last word to me, as I headed off for a subway ride to the Convention, was, "I'll give your regards to Cathy." I hope he did! Cathy heads up the nonprofit organization California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), a trade association advancing organic farming not only in California, but nationwide.
LOVE TRUMPS HATE
I promised, in an earlier posting, that I'd say something about "love." Here's something, but with a bit of a preface, first.
On the first day of the Convention, a day full of tension, speakers kept referring to Hillary Clinton as "our candidate," and as "our nominee," prior to the nominating vote actually having occurred. As I reported earlier, this infuriated Bernie Sanders Delegates, who had actually come to the Convention thinking that there would be a vote on that very issue of who would be "our candidate." Naturally, the Sanders' Delegates wanted Bernie, not Hillary, to represent the Party, and so they almost always "booed" when Hillary's name came up as "our nominee," since all such references to Hillary made clear that the Sanders Delegates were irrelevant, as far as the Convention organizers were concerned, and that they ought to just go home and forget about it. The "booing," of course, naturally infuriated the Clinton Delegates, who hold Hillary Clinton in high regard. The dynamic just described is why the Convention on Monday was so full of tension. It was a self-inflicted wound by the Convention organizers, in my opinion. The Easter Island presence of Gray Davis, amidst the tumult, seemed extraordinary because of the contrast between Davis' demeanor and what was going on all around him. This stone statue gaze also, in some ways, symbolized the effort of long-time Democratic Party officials to endure the tumult, and not show the strain.
There was another tactic used by the Convention organizers, too. That was to pass out cardboard signs with prepared "messages," these messages to correlate with the orchestrated speeches. These signs were intended to give an illusion of concord and unanimity in a crowd that was anything but of one mind and at peace with itself. One of these signs said, "Love Trumps Hate." There's my "love" reference. Another one of these signs, which presented the overarching "theme" that Convention organizers have decided should epitomize the gathering, read "Stronger Together."
Unfortunately, at least from the perspective of a Bernie Sanders Delegate, this preprinted effort to impose a unanimity and loving harmony on the Convention, when that sentiment was not a reflection of the realities, did not actually go down that well. At least, that's my view. Trying to speak for others is always hazardous. If you claim a right to present what people are thinking, and they don't actually think that way, resentment is an inevitable result. Silent resentment. Or vocal resentment. Both kinds have been present at the Convention, again because the Democratic Party apparatus has presumed that it could characterize its Convention without taking into account that a large number of the attendees were alienated from the process.
By the way, one of my closest friends pointed out that the phrase "The Party," used in the manner I've just described, carries a kind of totalitarian connotation, since that's how the Russian Communist Party was characterized until Glasnost, and is still the way that the Chinese Communist Party is characterized today. Since the Democrats are going up against a candidate who can properly be described as "totalitarian" in his basic instincts, it would be wise for the Democrats to drop references to "The Party," and to exemplify and practice "democracy," as their basic mode of operation.
I don't think there is any doubt that a political movement, and a nation, is "stronger together." The description of the Convention, and the Democratic Party, in those terms, however, really needs to come from real life experiences, not manufactured unanimity. "Diversity" means real diversity, which ipso facto acknowledges and celebrates that we are, truly, different, and have different perspectives and ideas. Differences, when real diversity does come together, makes for a very, very strong bond. That is true at the "atomic level," even. Opposite electrical charges attract. Similar charges push against each other and divide.
At the Convention, organizers have been putting words in every speaker's mouth, as speaker after speaker has claimed, in identical language, that we are "Stronger Together." I think it's a mistake. It's a "party line," and it makes those speeches weaker, not more compelling, because they come across as propaganda, not as genuine statements of the speaker's feelings and beliefs. Cory Booker gave a wonderful speech on Monday (click the link to listen to it, if you missed it during the live Convention coverage). Booker urged all Americans to "Rise Together." The signs deployed, even as the speech was being given, undermined, not enhanced the power of Booker's presentation. My opinion, again. For what it's worth!
THE ROLL CALL
I am going to end today's report with a brief comment on a topic that everyone here (and probably everywhere) is worrying about. What are those "Berners" going to do now? Will they divide the good guys and let Trump win? As a preface to giving you the little information I have about that topic, let me first say that the Roll Call vote held yesterday was, at least to me, impressive and energizing. That should have happened "Day One," before every one began claiming from the dais that Hillary Clinton was "our nominee."
The Bernie Sanders Delegates (and I am one of them) don't think that Hillary Rodham Clinton is our best candidate to win the Presidency in November. However, any fair-minded person would have to say, after hearing that roll call vote, that Hillary did win the nominating process. Millions of voters heard their representatives express with great delight their support for Hillary Clinton, and the Sanders' Delegates got to hear the same from the representatives of their voters. The tally came in. Hillary got the numbers. Bernie Sanders made the motion to declare Hillary Clinton the Democratic Party nominee, and that should have been, and I hope it was, a reconciling moment, because going into the elections in November, there is no doubt that we will be "stronger together."
THE FUDGE FACTOR
I have a little footnote on the roll call vote, though. Bernie made a motion which stated as follows (realizing that I haven't gone back to get the exact words): (1) that the Convention suspend the normal rules; (2) that the Convention organizers tally and record the votes of each of the candidates; and (3) that Hillary Clinton be declared the candidate of the Democratic Party. Marcia Fudge, who was selected long ago to Chair this gathering, and who has been one of the main promoters of the line that Hillary Clinton is "our candidate" before she was actually elected, then presented Senator Sanders' motion to the Floor for action. After the crowd quieted down, instead of restating the motion and asking for a vote, Fudge asked the Convention to "declare Hillary Clinton the winner by acclamation." In other words, Fudge lived up to her name, and tried to "fudge" the motion, by eliminating the part of the motion that required the recording of the actual vote! And you wonder why the "Berners" walked out?
BERNING THE FUTURE
Well, what about those "Berners" who walked out? Will they come back, and work for Hillary Clinton? That will, actually, depend on what happens today and tomorrow at the Convention. So far, the Convention has been following a script that was prepared long ago, and that presumed that there would not be any difference of opinion about who should be the Presidential candidate. Well, now we know that a very large number of Delegates, representing real Democratic Party voters, don't agree with the premise that Hillary Clinton is the best candidate. So, now that Hillary Clinton has affirmatively demonstrated, through the roll call vote, that she does have majority support (under the current rules, including the Super Delegates) how can the Party recognize and celebrate the diversity that this Convention has revealed, and make the whole Democratic Party "stronger together?"
The main Party apparatus, and Hillary Clinton above all, is going to have to reach out to the Bernie Sanders voters, and make common cause with them, or Hillary will go into the Fall election without the unified strength of the entire Democratic Party behind her.
What if the President, when he speaks tonight, would not just extoll Hillary Clinton (and this is what all the speeches do)? What if the President called BOTH Hillary and Bernie to the stage, so they could all raise their hands together, for a "political revolution" that would deal with the major issues that both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton know are so important to so many?
What if Hillary Clinton, tomorrow, did something similar?
The Bernie Sanders Delegates have made clear that millions of Democratic Party and Independent voters want our President to work for health care, not warfare. We want to end the massive income inequality that afflicts our society and economy. We want a $15/hour minimum wage. And no TPP.
You want the Bernie Sanders' voters to support Hillary? If Hillary wants their support, she won't get it just because they appreciate her past good work, or because they want a woman President. Both those things are true, but what the Bernie Sanders' voters want is a genuine change in direction, a "political revolution" in these United States.
The ball is in Hillary's court. She's the Democratic Party nominee now. Where will she lead us?
Below is a photo of the California "Berners," who were meeting, after the breakfast. They are planning. They are not going to quit. I talked to a Florida Sanders' Delegate. In Florida, too, the Sanders Delegates are not going to give up. To use a phrase that is regularly chanted on the Convention Floor: "This is What Democracy Looks Like!"
Hillary Clinton, newly elected as the Democratic Party's official standard-bearer, can now try to use the vitality and energy that is obvious everywhere here in Philadelphia, and make real one of the other phrasings that we are all chanting: This is What American Looks Like."