Democratic Convention: Division in the Midst of Unity

Thursday, July 28, 2016 Written by 
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By: Veronica Mackey


Despite opening with yet another email scandal and protests by Bernie Sanders supporters over the electoral process, the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week has been a virtual love and unity fest—in sharp contrast to the Republican National Convention last week. 


Organizers say the Dems wanted to show party unity and inclusion instead of the fearful rhetoric expressed by the GOP.  Speakers took apart Trump’s slogan, “Making America Great Again,” by saying America is already great and will become even greater.


Just hours before the convention, Wikileaks released hacked emails which revealed the Democratic National Committee Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and other DNC officials favored Clinton over Sanders.  In one email message, she questioned Sanders’ faith.  There are unconfirmed reports that the Russian government was involved in the leaks. The motives are unclear. 


Effective Friday, Wasserman-Schultz will resign.  Political analyst Donna Brazile will become the interim chair.  Sanders had been calling for Wasserman-Schultz to resign long before the emails were made public. The emails confirm for many what Sanders people have been saying all along—that the electoral system is, in fact, “rigged.”  


Aside from the hacked emails, Sanders delegates, like Jose Caballero from California, said “People are going to protest, regardless” because they don’t want to cast their votes for Clinton. “A Bernie delegate is a person who was elected by the people that support Bernie’s values. We’re here representing them,” he explained.   


Sandwiched between angry Sanders protestors on Monday, and another anger-charged moment expected when Wasserman-Schultz returns on Thursday, were speeches by several Democratic heavyweights, making their case for the former first lady, senator, secretary of state, and now-presidential nominee.  


On Monday, First Lady Michelle Obama made her case in a way that only a mother could.  She raised the question of whether a Trump presidency would be a good role model for children:  “This election and every election is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives…See, I trust Hillary to lead this county, because I’ve seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children.”


Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) delivered a passionate plea for cultural diversity and inclusion which was reminiscent of a young Barack Obama who spoke at the convention in 2004:


“Our nation was not founded because we all looked alike, or prayed alike or descended from the same family tree.  But our founders, in their genius, in this, the oldest constitutional democracy, put forth on this earth the idea that all are created equal; that we all have inalienable rights.”


Sanders closed out Day One arguing in favor of his former rival:  “It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues,” he said. “That's what this campaign has been about. That's what democracy is about. But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.” 


The Sander’s campaign has become a progressive movement within the party which shows no signs of dying down, a cause much larger than the man who created it. The platform that supports universal healthcare and free college tuition has significantly increased the numbers of young and first-time voters.


Some supporters were so inconsolable, not even Sanders himself could get them behind Clinton.  Even his plea on Monday that Democrats must support Clinton was met by boos from the audience.  The Vermont senator has always maintained that he would support Clinton if she became the nominee.


Comedian Sarah Silverman , a Sanders supporter, told protestors they were being “ridiculous” in their refusal to support Clinton.  However, on Day Two, the drama only intensified, with protestors walking out of the convention hall.  


Attention was given to social justice, gun violence, and the Black Lives Matter movement on Tuesday, when 9 black mothers, many whose children were killed by police, called for unity and urged people to vote for Clinton.  Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland, whose unlawful traffic stop led to her being arrested and hanged in a jail cell, said “Clinton…is a leader and a mother who will say our children’s names.” 


Former President Bill Clinton made a case for the woman he has known and loved for more than 40 years.  He talked about how they met, her passion for women, children, civil rights and economic justice.  I married my best friend, and she’s the “best darn change  maker I know,” he said.


It was a tough fight 8 years ago, when Clinton went head-to-head with Barack Obama for the presidency.  In the end, he won; she conceded and became one of his biggest supporters. Tonight, President Obama will return the favor by making his case about her character, tenacity and accomplishments as secretary of state under his administration.  It will be both a testament to Clinton as well as to his own legacy.  


The “hope and change” president is expected to deliver a speech that brings home the ideals of democracy, unity and inclusiveness—ideals that have been demonstrated by the demographic make-up of delegates and speakers throughout the convention.


In the first two days, speakers have included everyone from black mothers, children of undocumented immigrants, Native Americans, veterans and LGBT advocates.


Clinton will formally accept her party’s nomination on Thursday, after being introduced by daughter Chelsea.  




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