DNC Day One

DNC Day One

Day One

On the train to Philadelphia Connie, Rachel, and I met two Bernie supporters from Montreal who said they had made the trip to show their support for Bernie Sanders and protest a Hillary Clinton nomination, because U.S. politics influence Canadian politics. We left the train as a group, intending to march together with Jill Stein, Cornel West, and the Green Party, but the crowds were thick and we were separated.

Protestors gathered at the Philadelphia City Hall. Cornel West was speaking, but we were too far away to hear what he was saying. The sidewalks were filled with people of all ages and races, and the streets were lined with police on bicycles who had apparently been instructed to ignore the smell of marijuana in the air. After West finished his speech, he and a few others gathered behind a #March4OurLives2016 banner to kick off the march, followed by a sea of people from Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. Some space on the sidewalk cleared, and we were able to move in close enough to hear Jill Stein.

Each statement Stein made was followed by hearty cheers from listeners, but one statement struck me to the core:

This movement for democracy and justice, which you have unleashed through Bernie’s campaign, you have lifted up what so many of us have been working on in the social movement for so long…

Admittedly, I had heard of the Green party a long time ago. I was never opposed to it, but I had the attitude that the Republican and Democratic parties were the only ones people would take seriously — that a Green vote would just take away from a candidate that could actually win. My attitude about the Green party has changed tremendously, but that’s a blog for another day.

After Stein spoke, we marched over five miles in the sweltering heat, holding signs over our heads

(Image of Trump and Hillary smiling together) Either way, Wall Street wins. Fight for a political revolution!

Iraq, Libya & Syria in ruins, millions dead. Say no to the war makers’ candidate!

We aren’t trying to start a political revolution. We are the political revolution.

Still Sanders.

Bernie or Jill.

This rigged election is invalid.

We won’t stand with election bullies.

and chanting:

Hell no, DNC, we won’t vote for Hillary!

What do we want? Democracy. When do we want it? Now.

Bernie or Jill. Never Hill.

We are the 99%.

Sanders beats Trump!

Election fraud!

One of the chants didn’t make much sense to me:

Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.

Democracy can get messy sometimes. But when democracy functions as it should, you don’t expect to see people marching through the streets angrily shouting about what democracy looks like.

Fire hydrants were opened every mile or so, and protestors welcomed the cool relief of the man-made showers. Residents brought garden hoses and fans plugged into extension cords out onto the sidewalk. The Philadelphia fire department sent people out on bicycles to hand out cold bottled water.

At the convention center protestors from many different groups converged to make their feelings perfectly clear to the unpledged delegates entering the facility:

Hell no, DNC, we won’t vote for Hillary!

People beat their hands or signs against the four mile, eight foot high fence in time with the chant. Delegates walked past the sweaty boisterous mass in their air-condition-ready clothing, some of them smiling, others pretending we weren’t there, some of them recording us on their smart phones, others shaking their heads, wagging their fingers, and shouting back at us.

Street preachers scolded the protestors for being gay, drunken, lying, murderers who would go to hell if they didn’t repent and believe in Jesus.

We grew tired of the noise and took a walk through FDR park, making our way to where the Green party rally would be held. But a storm rolled in, cutting the rally short. Jill Stein thanked everyone for coming, and urged us to take shelter under the nearby Interstate 95 overpass.

Hundreds of people gathered there, I suppose to wait out the storm and return to FDR park for other scheduled protests, but I was feeling very ill from heat exhaustion, so we flagged down a cab and headed back to the hotel room. Our cab driver was amazing. He was ready with a barf bag and paper towels. We showed our appreciation with a 15$ tip. Rachel woke up in the middle of the night and got sick as well.

We later learned that Jill Stein and Cornel West went and joined the group gathered under the overpass. In contrast, Hillary Clinton accepted her nomination via New York on a large screen in the Wells Fargo Convention Center.

Patricia Lynn Reilly posted this to the Facebook group Florida for Bernie or Green 2016. It really captures what I and so many other Sanders supporters felt:

The Moments After the Convention

I can only speak for myself, but nothing changes for me post Bernie’s concession. I’ve already left the Democratic Party and joined Jill. 

I believe change happens from the bottom up, and the bottom is rumbling in a language the top does not even hear or understand.

Tonight the top put on a show that was plastic, scripted, costumed, neoliberal perfection funded by Hillary’s corporate sponsors. Tonight was an attempt to conjure up trust in an untrustworthy candidate. Tonight was smoke and mirrors, hiding the dysfunction lurking in the soul of the party and distracting from the absolute dishonesty upon which the night was built. (Remember WikiLeaks?)

Outside of the convention and in the noisiness and tears of Bernie’s precious delegates, was the reality. The marchers chanting for justice. The homeless chanting for breath. The pink women chanting for peace. Tens of thousands rumbling in strength, speaking truth to power.

That’s where I choose to dwell in my final decades. With those at the bottom. With the Green people who choose people, peace, and planet above profit. With the brown and black people whose lives matter. With the poor and working people on whose backs everything gets built. When we all RISE UP, then and only then, will everything change!

  • Mary Vanderplas July 27, 2016 at 6:17 am

    I think it’s great that you’re doing what you’re doing: protesting for the purpose of closing the gap between the democratic ideals of the nation and political reality of who determines policy. The populist movement that Sanders spearheaded and that these others are carrying on is praiseworthy – focused as it is on the threat to representative democracy posed by elite power. That this isn’t the first time in American history that a populist movement of this nature has arisen – consider the Populism of the 1890s – is worth noting. Only time will tell whether or not any lasting change to the political system comes from it. But I commend you for being a part of something that holds promise of needed reform toward a more democratic political system.

    I don’t condemn Sanders, though, or interpret his decision to support Clinton and stay in the party as a caving in to the establishment. I think he’s a realist who recognizes that there are forces at work in the system and among people with don’t have a common perception of what is in the best interests of everyone that prevent change on a large scale. I think he knows that if the system is going to be changed, it won’t happen quickly and it won’t happen simply through grassroots activism. He is willing to work for smaller gains through the system as it is. I think, too, that he is able to see past the less-than-honorable features of Hillary Clinton to the good that she has accomplished in her long career in public life.

    Sounds like you had a full and exhausting, though probably also energizing, day. It sounds, too, like you met some neat people along the way. I’m glad to hear the crowds have been controlled and that you feel safe. So sorry you got sick from the heat. We pray that you stay hydrated and healthy the rest of the week.

    • John Dean July 27, 2016 at 7:11 am

      I admire Alice’s determination to follow her beliefs. However, I do blame Sanders. He gathered a revolution that if carried out to fulfillment might have led to a possible third party. He had the momentum and the followers. He was the victim of the Clinton corruption team. Why he caved at the last minute with so much going for him, I’ll never understand. He sold out his followers in my opinion. He has turned out to just be another politician. I feel sorry for Alice and all his followers who were so loyal for so long.

      • Mary Vanderplas July 27, 2016 at 12:35 pm

        It takes more than momentum and followers to bring about the kind of changes to the political system that Sanders envisioned. It takes a governing majority that can turn a progressive agenda into laws that lead to changes in the ways things are done. For all of his expressed idealism, Sanders is a realist, deep-down – and yes, a politician in the best sense of the term – who knows how the system works and who knows what will actually work to lead the country toward a political system that is more in keeping with our democratic ideals. Bernie Sanders is a wise and honorable public servant who did what he believes is the best thing for our country. I think that he is right in the path he chose. It’S too bad that some of his supporters feel let down. But the fact that they do isn’t his problem, much less his fault.

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