BALLOONS

I was fortunate enough to attend the democratic convention on Monday and Thursday of last week. Being inside the arena on both the first and last day of the festivities gave me an interesting perspective on the state of the Democratic party. On Monday, it was evident that many fervent Bernie Sanders supporters had not fully come to terms with the fact that Clinton had effectively secured the nomination. In the midst of their hurt, controversy also swirled around the Democratic National Committee’s apparent attempts to undermine the Sanders campaign. Wikileaks released a series of exposing emails that to many signaled that the party and its chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had been working to undermine the Sanders campaign since its inception. DWS resigned her position the day before the convention started, but it was not enough to sate angered Sanders supporters. Not only did they have to grapple with their preferred candidate not securing the nomination, but they were also under the impression that the Democratic party actively worked to “steal” the election from Bernie. While many Sanders campaign staffers have debunked this as invalid, the irrevocable damage has already been done. Passionate Sanders supporters came to the arena in Philadelphia feeling hurt, angry, and betrayed; it was certainly evident in their behavior. There was booing and screaming protests when Hillary’s name was mentioned in speeches and Bernie chants would break out spontaneously in the convention hall. I was disappointed at first, but not irritated. As many of my friends and colleagues in Wake the Vote have pointed out, the protests were a symbol of the line of demarcation between the Republican and Democratic conventions. In Cleveland, as at most Trump events, dissidents were quelled immediately and harshly. Anyone who even had the potential to express anti-Trump sentiment was swiftly silenced. Those in the arena in Cleveland even went so far as to smother protesters with the American flag. This serves in stark contrast with protests at the Democratic convention that were allowed to continue largely uninhibited. Even though the Democratic establishment must have been less than thrilled with the negative criticism, they still allowed the protesters to express their frustrations. In a week that was supposed to be about rallying around the nominee, they allowed outside voices to be heard with little interference. This embodies one of the central tenants of Democracy that Dr. Harris-Perry summed up for us when she said “Democracy is for losers”. Even when your preferred candidate doesn’t win, you’re not completely shut out from the process: you still have a seat at the table. So as much as I was frustrated that by Thursday night the protests in the arena had only intensified, I’m still happy that people were allowed to express their discontent. My only problem is that this division is hurting the electoral chances of the Democratic party. As both candidates noted after the end of the Democratic convention last week, there remain less than 100 days before the nation heads to the polls on November 8th. It’s time for Democrats to come together in order to defeat Donald Trump. There is too much at stake this year for disaffected Democrats to split the vote by going for third party candidates like Jill Stein. As much as some hate to admit it, American government is entrenched in a two-party system, and a vote for a third-party candidate is essentially choosing to support someone who has no viable path to victory. I recognize the very real grievances that people have with Hillary Clinton, but that doesn’t change the fact that she is the only person right now who can plausibly keep Trump out of office. Unfortunately, the likelihood of a constitutional amendment being passed to allow Barack Obama a third term is extremely low, so Hillary is our best option. So can y’all just unite already?? Please?? Normally I wouldn’t be so blunt, but this election year Democrats have my stress level exorbitantly high.

Erica Jordan

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