Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ranting On...the First Night of the DNC

I watch the DNC like probably very few people watch the DNC.  For me, it's more than just a convention-it's really one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my decade.  After all, this is my team, and watching my team is something I do with great pride, but also with an enormous amount of worry.  I see politicians that I have long admired and obsessed over take the stage for the first time, being heard by a large audience for the first time, in some cases even heard by me for the first time rather than just being line items in an article I'm writing, and hope that they will espouse beliefs that I can be proud of, but also that the auditorium is receptive.  I whoop, I holler, and hold my breath during every speech, so even on a normal night I will find myself anxious to see everything go well and for everyone to get a strong review from the critics, or at least one that's largely apathetic.

Last night, though, I literally was texting one of my friends proclaiming "I truly hope that they don't boo XX" whenever they got on stage.  The first half of the DNC yesterday (and I was only able to listen to part of it as I do have a day job), was one of the most embarrassing things I've ever encountered in my party.  Booing of major politicians and progressives by a small minority of people overshadowed everything that was happening at the convention.  Now, I do wonder if they'll fix the audio a bit (it shouldn't be possible that three men chanting "we trusted you" should be nearly as loud as the woman behind the microphone in a stadium that large), but seriously-what could they have possibly gained here?  It says something that they, self-proclaimed supporters of Bernie Sanders, acted like petulant toddlers rather than trying to make something constructive happen, and booed important progressive voices.  Forget about Debbie Wasserman Schultz for a second, though even there it's worth noting that she's been a stalwart supporter of a number of liberal causes for decades: Marcia Fudge?  Nancy Pelosi?  Bernie Sanders himself?  These are longtime activists in the progressive movement whose dedication is beyond question-these protesters clearly have become unhinged, and the real conundrum is what caused this?

I've heard and formulated some thoughts.  It seems obvious now that Hillary Clinton's campaign, in a position to railroad Sanders a bit, should have loosened the strings on the longtime Democratic Party brethren who were allowed to serve as his delegates (it was rumored that many of the party operatives who might have backed Sanders as delegates and behaved better since they were longtime supporters of the Party of Truman, didn't want to for fear of retaliation from the Clintons), as a few bad apples do spoil the whole bunch of delegates it seems, but in many ways Sanders himself was to blame yesterday.  He spent months dismissing his losing race on things that simply weren't true-things like the DNC overtly sabotaging him, uncounted votes that didn't actually make a difference to the overall total, and of course the superdelegates, which wouldn't have caused him to win anyway.  Campaigning on falsehoods (and Bernie knew they weren't true), has a consequence because people believe them and it's harder to convince them they are wrong when they're already believing a lie.  Sanders would have had an easier time if he had just continued his honesty to why he was losing-she has a stronger backing, she's a longtime party favorite, and we're converting new voters, which is harder than getting voters who have been loyal to the Clintons for decades.  It's still true, but I have a feeling it would have elicited a better response.

But to the Bernie or Bust crowd-it's time to get a grip, because you've lost yours if you believe this stuff.  The vast majority of Sanders' supporters see the writing on the wall and have come to (begrudgingly, but I can respect that-I am no stranger to losing a primary) accept that they must work to defeat Donald Trump by electing Hillary Clinton.  That is really the only way to stop a racist demagogue from taking over the country, as Sen. Sanders pointed out last night.  The fact that they didn't understand how ludicrous they looked last night and how little they understand about the differences between the two parties makes me wonder if they perhaps just truly hated Hillary Clinton more than they believed in Bernie Sanders (I say this about the small minority of those who claim #NeverHillary but also proclaim to be Democrats).  After all, Sanders has gained enormous (some would say too large, and some would be me) concessions from the Clinton campaign, especially regarding college tuition, regulations on the banking industry, stopping TPP, and the minimum wage.  There is no viable candidate in November other than Hillary Clinton who could help deliver on Sanders promises.  Zero, none, nada.  This is the time where you "trust but verify."  Clinton has made the promises, and campaigns generally stay within the parameters of their campaign promises (I know that's something that is scoffed, but look at the facts-Clinton won't actively go against her campaign promises if history is any indication).  Elect her in November, but also verify-continue to keep the pressure on her, as well as Senator Sanders who will still be in Congress, to make sure these things are done because you can say "we voted for you because you promised you'd do X."  Sitting out the election sends a message, but not the one you think it does.  It says that you don't care.  No politician ever hears the message of why you didn't vote, because all they see is a lost cause, someone who doesn't care about any of the issues.  If you vote for them, though, you're now a part of their victory formula and they're going to want to keep you happy.

The rest of the night became much stronger once Sarah Silverman called out the elephant in the room (elephants having no business being at a Democratic Convention), and whether because she's a celebrity and therefore a political outsider or because she was one of their own, the Sanders crowd by-and-large sat down-hopefully the meticulous Hillary Clinton saw the value in that rare and risky off-the-cuff moment.  We all enjoyed rousing, impressive speeches from the likes of Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders (I liked Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, but they weren't quite in the same class), and crowd reactions from everyone from Bill Clinton to John Lewis to Rosie Perez were fun to enjoy. Silverman, Eva Longoria, and Jason Collins proved that we tend to get the better celebrities compared to Trump's list which looks like a Battle of the Network Stars lineup.  All-in-all, a relatively good evening after a rocky start, most of which would have been fixed if the forest had been more discernible from the trees from a small group of progressives with their heads not far away enough from their hearts.

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