It’s the first day of the Democratic Convention and rather than spending the morning talking about the amazing speeches we are about to hear tonight from Senator Cory Booker, First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders, the news has been fixated on the Debbie Wasserman Schultz email debacle and the protests staged by Bernie Sanders’ supporters.
I’ve been on the ground in Philadelphia since Saturday and, yes, there are protesters who are wearing Bernie Sanders paraphernalia and carrying Sanders’ signs, but it is clear to me, that many of them are not true Bernie Sanders supporters. Also, the number of protesters are far outweighed by the thousands who have come to Philadelphia to stand in support of and witness history as Hillary Clinton accepts the Democratic nomination for president.
I’ve had a chance to speak to many of the folks carrying signs and chanting “Bernie or Bust.” Some say that despite Bernie Sanders’ strong show of unity and support for Hillary Clinton that their protests aren’t about him. Some protesters went further and said “F&$@ Sanders. He can’t tell me who to vote for.” Once I started to hear these kinds of responses over and over again, it became clear to me that these are not the voters that Bernie Sanders talked about when he talked about revolutionizing the Democratic Party and making it a party of even greater inclusion. These folks may be here to start a “revolution”, but it’s not a political one!
It’s also clear to me that a lot of these folks aren’t angry at Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party that they rail against. They are just ANGRY and there is nothing that can change that. They are not here to change the party; to eliminate super delegates; to push for universal health care; to raise the minimum wage or to advocate for a more just society.
A lot of these protesters have a personal agenda.
For some it’s all about growing their social media accounts, getting on the nightly news or demonstrating to their friends that they are real “bad asses.” These protesters are giving the true Sanders supporters a bad name and they should be called out just like the few outliers of the Black Lives Matter movement. Any legitimate protest movement will have some, and it’s our job to dismiss them in the same way that D.L. Hugley dismissed Fox’s Megan Kelly’s efforts to defend rogue cops.
As for those protesters that are interested in real change, keep doing what you’re doing. You are making the Democratic Party stronger and I am certain that you will stand with Hillary in November and use that energy that you displayed over the last year to defeat the real threat to our democracy-Trump.