POSITION AND PERSPECTIVE
Someone in the Virginia delegation, or in the New York delegation, might have been able to take a picture like the one above. Those delegations were seated right down in front of the podium because when the chairs were set up, Party organizers already knew who the candidates would be. Convention organizers knew that Hillary Rodham Clinton from New York would be the Presidential nominee, and that Tim Kaine from Virginia would be the Vice Presidential nominee. Except....they didn't really know that, officially.
If you are sensing a kind of "theme" here, in my Convention commentaries, you are probably accurately picking up on my genuine distress that the Democratic Party did not deal very well with the fact that the decision about who the nominee would be was not, officially, settled at the time the chairs were set up. And it wasn't even settled on the first day of the Convention, either, since the roll call vote didn't happen until Tuesday.
My personal comments must be understood as the comments of someone who was elected and sent to Philadelphia by voters in California's 20th Congressional District precisely to advocate, in every way I could, for the selection of Bernie Sanders as the Democratic Party's nominee for President. Because I was privileged to be an Alternate Delegate, I was able to see, firsthand, that the Democratic Party apparatus was operated to favor those within the Party whom the Party Establishment had predetermined should take power, and to disfavor those supporting a different option; in other words, to disfavor Bernie Sanders and all of his delegates.
In all fairness to the Party, the situation this year was extraordinary, as Bernie Sanders' campaign was extraordinary. Normally, the Party actually does know, officially, who the Party's nominee will be long before the Convention begins. The normal thing to do is to design the Convention as a "pageant of praise" for the nominee. But this year, things actually were different, in that almost 1,900 people came to the Convention, as I did, as delegates committed to a candidate different from the candidate favored by the Party Establishment, and with an expectation that there would be an actual vote of the delegates before the curtain went up on that "pageant of praise" thing. How the Party decided to deal with this unusual situation was revealing, and it was profoundly distressing to virtually all the Sanders delegates.
As I have indicated earlier, the Convention organizers should have put the roll call vote first. But the organizers didn't do that. Therefore, as speaker after speaker on the first day kept referring to Hillary Clinton as "our candidate," and as "the nominee," the Convention organizers sent repeated messages to the Sanders Delegates that they were irrelevant and unwanted interlopers. Some of these Sanders Delegates "booed."
On Day Two, after the roll call vote, which Hillary Clinton clearly won, the Chair of the Convention twisted the motion of Bernie Sanders, who asked the Convention to suspend the rules, and to direct that the votes be recorded, and then to "declare Hillary Clinton as the nominee." Instead of presenting that motion to the Convention for unanimous approval, Convention Chair Marcia Fudge sought to transform Sanders' generous gesture into a false claim that Hillary Clinton's election was "by acclimation." Many Sanders Delegates walked out.
On Day Three, the Party apparatus actually made a number of unsuccessful but noticeable efforts to drive the Sanders delegates out of the Convention entirely, to get rid of them and their disturbing presence, utilizing various techniques reported upon yesterday.
On Day Four, Hillary spoke. Before giving my review of Hillary's speech, let me make a few other, more or less random, comments.
NOT GOING GAGA
RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY
ALL delegates (or a large percentage of them, at least) arrived at the Wells Fargo Center in a condition best described as "fully drenched." A massive rainstorm hit at about 2:00 p.m., just as everyone was trying to get out to the Arena for the 4:00 o'clock drop of the gavel. No discrimination against Bernie Delegates is alleged. There are two routes to the Wells Fargo Center; you can go by bus, or you can go by subway. Either way, you'll get wet if it's raining. Once there, you have to walk about a half-mile outside. "Fully drenched" is perfectly descriptive.
THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE
A popular "chant" relied upon by Bernie Sanders Delegates on Days One and Two of the Convention was: "This is what democracy looks like."
Politics IS about debate, and differences, and dissension, and discussion. All that conflict and controversy, ultimately, leads up to a decision, but you don't get to the decision stage in a democracy without going through the debate and disagreement stage, first. Efforts to make Sanders Delegates "sit down and shut up" led to that chant: "This is what democracy looks like!" Philadelphia, of course, is the perfect place to remember what democracy is supposed to be all about, and I have to confess that I, and I know other delegates, got teary eyed at times at the thought that this Convention, held just blocks from where the Constitutional Convention was held, might be coming at the ending of our democratic experiment. There is worry enough about that with thoughts of what might happen with the election of Donald Trump. But even the conduct of this convention was not, as you will have seen from my reports, very comforting for those who love democracy.
THIS IS WHAT AMERICA LOOKS LIKE
The conclusion of the evening, of course, was the much-anticipated speech of Hillary Clinton (followed by the "balloon drop," I guess I should say, which was also much-anticipated). Back in the hotel room, long after midnight, I heard from Alan Haffa, who was a Delegate, and who was on the Floor, that protests and chants took place among some (not all) of the California Sanders Delegates, even as Hillary Clinton made her speech. Bernie Sanders specifically asked his Delegates, in a text that I got, too, not to protest, and to be respectful. I couldn't see that anything happened otherwise, but it seems that there was an "otherwise," involving a few Sanders supporters.
From where I saw the speech, it was, simply, terrific, with only one footnote to that "terrific," in my view. I feel certain that Hillary wants to convey that she is capable and willing to use military force, in the role of Commander of Chief of the United States Armed Forces. However, I have a continuing concern about Hillary Clinton's willingness to try something besides military force, as the United States faces a world that many believe is defined by a struggle of decency against "evil," and terrorism. Her speech was not completely reassuring to me on that point. Maybe that General really does speak for Hillary?
That concern expressed, I did think that Hillary Clinton's speech was terrific, and incorporated a very forthright and much-appreciated effort to state her commitment to the progressive principles that the Bernie Sanders campaign insisted must be the foundation of the Democratic Party's platform and program, going forward. I thought Hillary Clinton was inspiring, and called out to the best of America. I was comforted by my thought, as she made her speech,:"Yes!! Hillary Clinton will win the Presidency!"
Particularly given the other choice, it is imperative that she does. Those who care about the future of our politics (and indeed our nation), need to help make that happen.
That's my bottom line takeaway from the Convention.
And as for the "political revolution" ignited by the Sanders' campaign? I am never giving up on that! And I'm hoping that the Sanders Delegates I met aren't giving up, either!