Wow! The DNC. I cannot put into words how phenomenal the DNC was. I was fortunate to get to attend both the Monday and the Thursday sessions of the Democratic Convention, and got to hear Bernie Sanders (#StrongerTogether), Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Cory Booker (#ComeTogether. This speech reminded me a lot of Obama’s 2004 speech, and God forbid if we lose in 2016, I think Cory Booker is a frontrunner for 2020), and Michelle Obama (potentially a top three convention speech ever) speak. I heard the speeches from Tuesday and Wednesday on TV. This post is going to focus more on my view of the Bernie supporters, which some more light commentary on Hillary, while my next post will focus a lot more on Hillary Clinton.
I actually got to celebrate my 21st birthday at the Democratic Convention. While most people would have preferred to be doing something else on their 21st birthday, I’ll remember seeing history made for the rest of my life (and I know plenty of people who can’t remember their 21st haha!). The atmosphere is something that I will never forget. The night hearing Hillary Clinton accept the nomination is definitely in my top three political memories (with the other two being seeing Barack Obama get inaugurated and hearing Obama speak in 2008 for the first time). Being completely honest, I was lukewarm on Hillary entering the convention. Sure, I’m a purist Democrat, and there was almost no chance in hell that I wasn’t going to vote for Hillary on November 8th, but I hadn’t found anything to get excited about with Hillary, but after hearing a week’s worth of speeches, I’m more excited than ever to vote for Hillary (even though it means the end of the Obama presidency 🙁 and Obama’s speech on Wednesday reminded me just how much I love Obama) . I truly think that while Hillary may not be the progressive that Bernie is, Hillary will proudly take the Democratic baton from Obama and continue to lead the country forward in a way we can all be proud of. More depth on that in my next post…
One thing I feel required to comment at length on is the Bernie supporters at the DNC. When I was thinking about expectations for the DNC, I was a bit concerned about how some Bernie or Bust people would react to the inevitable nomination of Hillary Clinton. As recently as the start of the convention, I still had Bernie supporters telling me that Bernie was going to be the nominee and Hillary was going to jail instead of the White House… alas, Hillary was nominated and Bernie gave a rousing speech. But throughout the week, a vocal minority of Bernie supporters worked to disrupt the convention. I assure you that this vocal minority is very small (in fact, on Thursday, Bernie or Bust people wore neon green in solidarity, and I would estimate that there were less than 100 Bernie or bust delegates out of about 1800 Bernie delegates, and 4500 overall delegates). These supporters did what they could to disrupt, the speeches of candidates who were praising Hillary Clinton, and were quickly drained out by supporters of party unity. The most concerning moment to me was when Bernie supporters booed Elizabeth Warren, who I believe is the consummate progressive politician. I stand on record saying I think Elizabeth Warren should be influential in the Democratic Party, and pondered whether she would be a strong VP choice, before coming to the conclusion that she would be more influential in the Senate. Elizabeth Warren remained neutral throughout the Democratic Primary, and only endorsed Hillary once she had reached the requisite number of delegates. Elizabeth Warren has championed many things in the Senate, which Bernie championed in his presidential campaign, and will continue to be a voice of progressive reason in the Senate for years to come (while there is no proof of this, I believe that Elizabeth Warren likely cast her MA primary ballot for Bernie, but we’ll never know either way #AustralianBallot).
That doesn’t say that Bernie or Bust supporters did not have valid concerns. On Thursday, Bernie or Bust supporters chanted “No More Wars” over military leaders and military family members, which were drowned out by chants of “U-S-A” by convention attendees (I admittedly joined). Personally, I remain very dovish, and I’m concerned about the move towards American Exceptionalism, which appears to be taking over the Democratic Party (even though, I think this will help the Dems within the electorate, many of whom think the GOP is the party, which is strong on terrorism). Bernie supporters also chanted about protecting Palestinian citizens, another position, which I remain very supportive. I’ve said for a few years that the Democratic Party has gotten to cozy with AIPAC and we need to be taking a strong stand to find a compromise solution, which is amicable for both the Israeli and Palestinian settlers. Despite being supportive of many of the concerns of Bernie or Bust people, I found the way they expressed their concerns as unacceptable. While I may not be supportive of many of the wars that our troops have fought in, I hold our country’s veterans in the highest esteem. Those willing to protect our country deserve our respect and our thanks. I also think that booing our politicians is unacceptable. Being a politician isn’t easy to say the least, and while my worldview is different than many Republicans, I would never stand up and boo the Republicans leaders of our country. Like Barack Obama said in his speech, “Don’t boo, Vote”.
At the end of the day, some Bernie supporters are indicating that they want to vote for the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and I don’t think they realize just how harmful that could be for our country. Even though Jill Stein may align more ideologically with many Bernie supporters, than Hillary Clinton would (According to iSideWith.com (A resource I’d recommend for everyone), I agree with both Jill Stein and Hillary Clinton about 97% of the time, while only agreeing with Trump 27% of the time). While sure, Bernie supporters could make a statement and drive Jill Stein up to 5% on Election Day (if we’re being generous), but at the end of the day, 5% is not going to get someone elected president. Hillary Clinton is going to continue to move the country forward (not as fast as many of us would like, but she’ll build upon President Obama’s policies), and she’ll appoint Supreme Court justices, who would uphold policies which may be passed in a future progressive administration. Think about the number of 5-4 decisions, which have been passed down just under the Obama administration! The Affordable Care Act, Affirmative Action, Citizens United, Same Sex Marriage, and many others. Currently the court has four more conservative jurists (strict constitutionalists) judges, and four liberal jurists (“living constitutionalist”). Since it appears unlikely that Merrick Garland’s appointment will be voted on, the new president will quickly appoint someone, who will likely break the tie of the court’s makeup. There is also a chance that the next president could appoint jurists who will replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, or Stephen Breyer. A liberal president who replaced Ginsburg, Kennedy, Scalia, and Breyer with younger progressive jurists could create a progressive court for the next generation (or more). A conservative president, who got to replace Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Scalia, could create a conservative court for a generation. We can’t only think in the short term when selecting the next president. Whoever we elect on November 8th, only gets a four-year term, but their impact will be felt forty years from now. While people have a right to be idealistic (and I’ve written before how I’m a proud idealist), these people should realize just how much their idealism could hurt our country. I’ll stop ranting about the Bernie or Bust people now though. I want to leave with a happy memory of Bernie, so I’ll end with a selfie that I took with Bernie last July. I still have no regrets that I cast my first vote for president for Bernie.
Stay tuned for a complete wrap up of the Democratic Convention and where I think the Democratic Party goes moving forward in the 100 days leading into the 2016 Election, and in the potential four years of a Hillary Clinton presidency.