thursday. the last day of the convention and my last full day in the city of brotherly love.

frustration from two days prior continued to linger and physical and mental fatigue was beginning to set in, but i was up, again, in time to be at breakfast at 7am. that morning’s breakfast was going to be a special one; it had been arranged to have senator bernie sanders himself come and speak to the delegations staying at the hilton valley forge hotel.

thoroughly excited, i made sure i was downstairs in the conference room in plenty of time and to make sure i had my choice of seats.

in addition, and prior to, bernie’s speech, we welcomed former maryland governor martin o’malley. his speech was good, but honestly, i was so excited to see the senator up close and personal, i didn’t pay much attention. instead, i kept glancing back at the entrance to the room, waiting for the senator’s arrival.

unfortunately, because some bernie supporters were so unhappy with his loss and previous endorsement of hillary clinton, the senator was being harassed. there had been protests at his hotel (i didn’t even know where he was staying). so bernie was a little on guard and his secret service detail was definitely on guard. so, instead of a grand entrance from the back of the room, he was quietly rushed in through the kitchen entrance at the side of the room.

his appearance was sudden and though there was certainly applause and a rush to welcome him and maybe shake his hand, security moved him promptly to the stage with little fanfare and he began his address to us.

i tried to get some pictures of a couple of our young and bright bernie delegates presenting him with lei and gifts from hawaii. unfortunately, in the hustle and crowd, it proved difficult. i did, however get this great picture of a crying asami after presenting the senator with a lei:

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his speech was good, but not a deviation from anything i’d heard from him over the last couple days. it was just thrilling to have him there, knowing what his campaign meant to so many people, including myself.

then, when he concluded his was whisked away back through the kitchen as quickly as he had entered.

though there were more events at the convention center, not to mention clinton’s acceptance speech that evening. i, however, decided bernie’s visit to our hotel would be a fitting end to my official convention experience. i wasn’t really keen on hearing hillary speak, nor bear witness to the celebration (and smugness from some) of clinton’s supporters. instead, i gave away my credentials to one of the party faithful form hawaii who had come to philly to staff the delegation; she was a clinton supporter and had no doubt she’d enjoy being there to see hillary accept the nomination much more than i would have.

so, a gray and rainy day spent packing, relaxing, editing photos, and writing marked the end of my convention delegate experience. in some ways, it had been the longest few days of my life. in others, it was over as hurriedly as it had begun. i was sorry to see it come it an end without any real climax, but so it goes.

early the next morning, i boarded a shuttle to the airport happy to begin my vacation spending quality time with friends and family in the midwest.

the previous day had been a rough one and though we had to be up early again for breakfast, wednesday morning began with a slow start.

from my perspective, the most important parts of the convention had already taken place and, admittedly, my enthusiasm was beginning to wane. there wasn’t much, as best as we could tell, a whole lot going on at the arena of note prior to the primetime speakers, so a lot of us spent much of the day doing progressive, non-convention-related stuff: attending trainings, forums, protests, etc.

for my part, myself and a friend decided to attend some forums in the city being put on by progressive democrats of america. if memory serves, which is always questionable, the forum was on progressive budget alternatives. it’s a topic both my friend and i have been interested in for some time and had, in previous years, attempted to publicize here in hawaii (to little effect). however, for reasons also escaping my recollection, we never made it to the forum despite having paid for it. i think we were distracted and preoccupied talking to fellow progressives and just lost track of time.

still, the day still had promise as there was scheduled a democratic socialists of america (DSA) event at the same location. i was pretty excited about it…. in the meantime, we grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby deli and had lots of good conversations with various progressive activists and democratic socialists. a great way to spend a morning!

shortly after signing in for the DSA event and finding a couple of seats, we received a text message from the bernie campaign about a candidate and campaign training that had just been added to the day’s schedule and was going to start within the hour. after a bit of deliberation, my friend and i agreed it made sense to try and hoof it across town to be at the training with our fellow bernie supporters and progressive activists. and so, with some disappointment, we left before the DSA event got started and made our way back to the vicinity of the convention center.

…only we got a bit turned around. or, as my friend would certainly point out, i got us turned around. and i didn’t realize my mistake right away, rather more like after 20 minutes in the opposite direction. so we did our best to hurry back in the right direction, trying to find our way to a bus or subway stop that would get us to our destination. we did eventually make it, but we were quite late (and very hot and dehydrated). and then the training itself turned out, at least for me, to be not very useful. so it goes.

after the training was over, we walked over to reading market for some coffee and food as we mapped out our plan for the rest of the afternoon. while there, we bumped into some other hawaii bernie delegates and ended up just hanging around the market until it was time for us to make our way to the wells fargo center for primetime.

we had been warned that because the president was going to be in attendance, security was going to be much tighter and after a certain time we might not be admitted at all. and as had become typical of the DNC, none of those rumors turned out to be true….

despite president obama’s arguable failures in any number of areas of domestic policy and his utter warmongering foreign policy, it’s hard not to listen to him speak and… like him. he’s a hell of an orator.

i found myself, at more than one point during his speech, thinking how much i liked him and was so disappointed “this guy” hadn’t turned up to run the country.

while obama’s speech was the most memorable, i have to say vice president biden and clinton’s VP nominee, tim kane, did pretty well too.

the president finished his speech to a standing ovation and cheers. and while there was still one more day of the convention remaining, i didn’t know at the time that wouldn’t be back the following day.

tuesday. nomination roll call day.

it was the big day. the day for which all the bernie delegates had traveled to philadelphia; the day we cast our votes for the democratic party presidential nominee. though i likely could have travelled to philadelphia expenses paid, as staff, it was important to me that i be able to cast a vote for bernie sanders.

the previous late night and only a few hours of sleep had caused breakfast came painfully early. after collecting my credentials for the day, it was back to my room for a slow start.

eventually, we all made our way to the wells fargo center. we had been told, several times, that it was important to be at the arena by the opening gavel, because it would be shortly afterward that the roll call votes would begin. but, as is often the case at these types of things, the real business of the day didn’t start until more than an hour after the gavel fell.

in the lead up to the roll call of states, each remaining candidate was nominated, with a second (and third) nominating speech. at this point, i can’t recall who made the nominating speech for hillary, but after a quick google search, i found it had been senator barbara mikluski of maryland. hawaii’s own tulsi gabbard made the primary nomination for bernie sanders.

throughout the day, delegates had been casting their vote on an official tally sheet, which, as i understand it, would eventually be used as the official record of the vote. for, i don’t know, theatrics i guess, each state was called alphabetically by the secretary of the convention. it was probably an hour or so before it was hawaii’s turn.

as our turn approached, some of the hawaii delegates began to move around. it wasn’t until right before we were called that i realized people were positioning themselves to make sure they were on camera. to the disappointment of some of my family and friends watching on tv, my realization came too late and i ended catching a position just out of the camera shot.

during the roll call, there were ongoing rumblings of an organized “walk-out” among the bernie delegates. not wanting to participate, or be seen as participating, i made a not-so-discreet exit before the mass walk-out, i left the hawaii delegation shortly after we cast our votes for a cigarette, or two.

time passed as i chatted with other delegates, who had either voted already or were waiting their turn, outside for the same respite from the slow proceedings. the whole roll call ended up taking a couple hours and as i was heading back to my seat, so began the aforementioned “walk-out”. a long procession of bernie delegates, chanting “this is what democracy looks like,” made their way toward the open air. many were holding up their phones to record the event, or “no tpp” signs, or bernie signs…, jill stein signs.

while this was going on, i was also beginning to hear about something even more disappointing and frustrating; one of our bernie delegates, while on camera for the roll call, had “flipped the bird” with a giant grin on her face. news spread about the incident and while some of us were angry, others saw it as a bold and heroic gesture in the face of dnc’s bias against bernie and his delegates.

after the walk-out had dissipated, some of the participants, including some from the hawaii delegation, staged a silent “sit-in” protest in the media tent. that act was also one that i didn’t support, believed was ill conceived, and only served to do damage to the underlying message and long-term goals of our movement.

so, needless to say, i was not happy. in fact, i was pretty angry and didn’t reenter the convention floor for the rest of the day, except to apologize to some of the hawaii clinton delegates and superdelegates for one person’s behavior. i wanted to be clear that her actions were not representative of all of us. and i spent the next couple of hours talking to people outside, smoking, and generally avoiding eye contact with some of those who had participated in the protests. i was sure i’d only end up shouting and cursing at them….

to make sure i’m fair here, i want to make sure it is understood WHY they did what they did. here’s a link to a facebook post explaining it.

i share their anger and frustration, but nonetheless have serious criticisms of what they did. in the end, i don’t think they’re shenanigans served any purpose except as proof to those people already skeptical of bernie supporters and those who called us “childish” and “sore losers”. of course, i don’t believe either are true, but the walk-out and media tent sit-in, through that skeptical filter, looked like little more than a collective temper-tantrum.

now, to be clear, i’m not saying that what I think it looked like, but at the end of the day the stunt wasn’t for my benefit. what i’m saying is this; bernie delegates said they were making a statement with their actions, that they “wanted their voices to be heard.” but what i think some, if not many, still don’t understand is that in their need to feel righteous and have “their voices heard,” they only served to reinforce the preconceived notions of those who were skeptical of us from the beginning and were happy to label us a certain way.

their “message” wasn’t heard. mainstream US media covered little, if any, of the protests and when they did, it was more often than not with “slant” that wasn’t favorable to the bernie folks. and i’m not aware of any local media outlets that covered the protests at all. so, in the end, the message was only received by those who already agreed with them, and thus only reinforcing the nearly deafening echo-chamber that already existed.

by the time the sun went down, i was tired, feeling beaten, bruised, and demoralized. even though i had wanted to hear live former president bill clinton speak, by then i had no energy; all i wanted to do was go back to the hotel, maybe have a drink, then go to bed.

though maybe for different reasons, convention day two had come to an end with too many of us feeling defeated.

so, i know i’m very much behind on posting about my experiences in philadelphia, but it’s difficult to prioritize when i’m busy catching up with friends and spending time with family. and though i’ve still a few more days to chronicle, i wanted to take a break and share some about my first trip in three years back to my home town….

i’m reminded of a quote from the movie gross pointe blank;

“you can never go home again, but you can shop there.”

while not entirely accurate of my experience, it does, i think convey a certain emotion which i’m now feeling. in so many ways, my childhood home and my neighborhood are exactly how i remember them.

but in so many ways, this place is foreign to me; like visiting the past in a dream. familiar landmarks have aged almost beyond recognition, or have been replaced altogether. streets and highways interchanges are strange. returning home from lawrence late the other night, i got lost. sure, it didn’t take me too long to find my bearings, but the fact that it happened in the first place was quite unsettling. and it’s that unsettled feeling that’s led me to write this here.

i always knew, at least in part of my brain, that this would eventually happen, though i guess there’s no amount of time, no extent of one’s brain that can prepare you for the eventual realization; this place is no longer my home.

i’m reminded of yet another movie, garden state, in which the main character describes the idea of home, what it is and what it means.

“you know that point in your life with you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? all of a sudden, even though you have some place where you put all your shit, that idea of home is gone.”

i’ve had that thought and those feelings in the past, but somehow this time it was more pronounced. more acute. though i think of honolulu as my “home,” that word doesn’t hold the same meaning anymore. indeed, that idea of home is gone.

though protests, meetings, events, mixers had been taking place all weekend, monday was the first actual day of the democratic national convention.

our hotel, the hilton doubletree valley forge, served as home for the week for not only the hawaii delegation, but also idaho, utah, north and south dakota, and west virginia. they’re delegations were similarly sized to hawaii….

starting on monday (July 25, 2016), all the delegations met first thing in the morning for breakfast to hear welcome messages from some of the delegations and presentations from speakers they had invited (hawaii’s was on thursday). the breakfasts were really the only time, aside from sitting together at the convention, when the entire delegation was together, so it was a great time to develop a comradery. we also received our credentials for the day at that time.

we had gotten word a day or two before that bernie sanders had scheduled an event/meeting for all of his delegates at the philadelphia convention center. of course, the bernie delegates were thrilled, especially given that there weren’t many, if any, from hawaii that had previously had the opportunity to see him in person.

the event was scheduled for just after noon, so we had to get ourselves organized for the day; once we left the hotel, it wouldn’t be possible for us to return before arriving at the wells fargo center for the 4pm opening gavel. though there were hourly shuttles from the hotel to the convention center, monday we decided to use the city’s public transportation system to get into the city. a nearby train took us to a station where we caught the subway.

once in the city, others made their way to the convention center while, as the hawaii point person for progressive democrats of america, i made a quick detour to a nearby marriot, where i met briefly with a staffer to collect stickers and other materials to share with other bernie supporters and like-minded people i met. then i raced back the three or four block back to be there in time to hear bernie speak.

bernie had publicly endorsed hillary two or three weeks prior, but there were still a lot of his followers that were disappointed and angry with that decision and that anger was expressed at that meeting on monday.

i was stunned, myself, with the strong reaction from so many in the room; that bernie sanders, the hero to so many, would have been booed by his own people would never have occurred to me as a possibility. to witness it first hand made me a bit angry. little did i know, this was just a glimpse of things to come as the week went on.

among the speakers on monday that proceeded the senator was rosario dawson. i’d her clips from her here and there over the last several months, but her assessment on monday of the campaign and the work that still needed to be done going forward was without doubt among the best i’ve heard:

And they booed her too….

by the time the event was over, it was time for delegates to make their way to the wells fargo center for the convention’s opening gavel. there were shuttles transporting delegates, but some of us chose again to use the city’s fabulous public transportation as there’s a subway line that ends right at the wells fargo center.

we’d been told security would be tight and take some time, but we passed through quickly and with no trouble. the five minute walk from the security checkpoint to the entrance of the center was exciting as our anticipation built for the events of the evening.

among them was the passage of the most progressive platform the dnc has ever had and a new rule limiting the influence of super delegates on nomination process in future presidential races: two huge victories for bernie sanders and his supporters.

once inside, it wasn’t long before the official business of the convention began.

as the evening proceeded, there were loud boos and chants in protest of some of the speakers who blatantly ignored the bernie campaign, their efforts, or the fact that no roll call vote for the nomination had taken place; though hillary’s nomination was a foregone conclusion, many bernie delegates, including myself, felt strongly the dnc and clinton-surrogate speakers made no effort to acknowledge the work of the senator’s campaign, nor made any overtures of unity. whether this was meant as an intentional slight, or was simply a short-sighted tone-deaf ignorance, it only served to enrage and embolden the bernie delegates toward protests and angry outbursts.

for my party, i only booed once during the evening’s proceedings; the woman (whose name i can’t recall) who conducted opening prayer referenced hillary clinton in her benediction. i found it highly inappropriate. otherwise, though i shared the anger of my fellow bernie delegates, i didn’t join in on “bernie” chants and persistent and prolonged boos, as i didn’t believe it served the interests or messaging of our long-term goals.

following the votes of the day, the agenda proceeded with various speakers until the primetime hour came and bernie sanders spoke to the crowd. of course i think he did a fantastic job and witnessing his speech in person was absolutely one of the highlights of my time at the convention. unfortunately, his speech to the convention was also met with boos when he again encouraged his supporters to transfer their efforts and energy to the election of hillary clinton in november. as he ended his speech and exited stage left, he did receive a standing ovation, cheers, and tears….

first lady, michelle obama was the last speaker for the first day. she gave a rousing and inspiring speech, definitely one of the best of the entire convention.

by the time the convention was gaveled into recess, it was 11:30pm. delegates scrambled for busses back to their respective hotels. hanging back to make sure all our delegates knew where to go, i boarded the last bus back and made it back in time for one beer and a bowl of clam chowder which served as a very late dinner.

it had been a good, exhausting first day of the convention, with only small frustrations, but as i crawled into bed i had no idea what was in store for tuesday, convention day two.


the combination of a long and hot friday combined with the jet lag, i think resulted in me waking up on saturday morning feeling pretty bad, so rather than hauling myself back into the city, i chose to lay low at the hotel. better to fend of any illness than push thru and end up being forced to miss part of the convention: the whole reason i’m in philadelphia to begin with.

so, on to day three….

by sunday i was feeling better, which was fortunate, because there was a “climate change march.” i’m not usually keen on marches, as i find them little more than pep rallies that do little to actually advance a particular cause. however, given the timing and location of this one, i thought it important to participate, if only to show solidarity with other so many other progressives who turned up.

it was huge! it’s hard for me to guess how many progressives and bernie supporters participated, but it was easily several thousand. plus, a few of us wandered into the march after it had already begun so i’m not sure may people had started ahead of us.

it was what you’d expect, so there’s not much more for me to say and here’s a couple clips (sorry it’s a bit shaky) and some pictures can be found below:

the march found it’s end at the mall between the constitution center and independence hall.

by sunday, volunteers from the dnc were in force spread out across the city to answer questions, offer assistance, and promote “politics week,” a series of events, meetings, and programs. it also provided free access, for credentialed delegates, to some of the museums and special exhibits. so a few of us got our passes for the week and spent some time in the main exhibit of the constitution center.

though it was an interesting place and i’d recommend it to folks, there was nothing that struck me as particularly great or memorable. as much as anything, it was a chance for us to get out of the stifling heat and humidity that had descended on philly.

as the day was moving into the afternoon, we decided it was time to grab a pint and a bite to eat. i had been told the day before by one of the dnc volunteers who lived in the area, about a few good micro-brews and foodie spots, so we decided to check out strange loves. it happened to be not far from where we were, though the heat made the walk feel long…. though the food was ok and served its purpose, i thought the beer was pretty good.

while there, we heard from reed, who had been the bernie campaign staffer who had “parachuted in” to hawaii with a handful of staff in february to help us organize and prepare for our caucuses in march. though the rest of the “gladiators” had moved on to other jobs and weren’t able to join us in philadelphia, it was good him. he’d spent the day volunteering with the bernie campaign and offered to drive us back to our hotel, where we talked story for a while before he went back to his parents’ house, where he was staying, and we turned in for the night. monday promised to be a long, busy, and emotional day.

this is getting posted much later than i had intended. and i had wanted to post something everyday while i was here, but clearly that boat has sailed….

i arrived in philadelphia on thursday evening. after collecting my bag, i found my ride to the valley forge doubletree, checked in, and then made my way across the street to pick up some dinner.

i woke up friday morning, had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, then prepared to head out for a day of sight seeing. my efforts were initially stymied when i couldn’t figure out the philadelphia public transit (SEPTA) app on my phone. first, i attempted to board the wrong bus, only to be very politely corrected by the bus driver. then, frustrated, i decided to walk to the closest train station, which is a little over a mile away. though google maps said the route was walkable, i quickly learned that while technically true, doing so would have meant braving highway-like traffic.

finally, i boarded the correct bus, having wasted more than an hour walking back and forth in the hot and humid weather. 45 minutes and some terrible traffic later, i was in “center city,” downtown philadelphia.

my first stop was at the city hall; a huge building with some, in my opinion, very nice architectural design. i took some pictures, refilled my water bottle and moved on to a nearby train station at which i could purchase a couple of all-day transit passes. then i moved on to my top priority for the day: independence hall.

i’ve never thought of myself as a history buff, but i was so thrilled to have the opportunity to see the place, step inside it, and experience the sort of closeness to history. to be in the very same room, the very same building where shining historic american figures (i still tend toward zinn’s version of the founding fathers) was remarkable. though the tour guide we had from the parks service wasn’t great, he still shared a lot of very interesting information.

next it was on to the liberty bell. admittedly, i was less interested in the bell, but given it’s iconic status in american history, i felt it was important to see in person. i got one or two decent pictures of the bell, but i found far more interesting the rest of the exhibit about the bell and its history.

after that, i moved on to benjamin franklin’s grave and then the philadelphia history museum. i enjoyed both, but independence hall was the highlight of the day.

then, as i was walking to find a pint, i bumped into another bernie delegate from hawaii and the bernie delegates he was walking around with. so, instead of beer, i made my way with them to the “love” sculpture. i was vaguely aware of the image, but hadn’t know it was in philly. so i hung out with them on the way to the sculpture too some shots of all of them.

by then, it was getting on in the afternoon. so i parted ways with the small bernie contingent and made my way back to the hotel.

in roughly 30 hours, i’ll be on my way to philadelphia for the democratic national convention!

it’s hard to describe how i feel. there’s always an apprehension that builds in me the day or two before i fly and a little more so this time because not only am i traveling to a new city, but i’ll be doing so on my own (at least for the first few days), which will be a new experience.

but for some of the same reasons, i’m looking forward to the trip. philadelphia is one of a few cities in the US that i’ve always been interested in seeing. i’m definitely eager to see independence hall, the liberty bell. i’ve heard good things about the history museum there, as well as the art museum. and doing this on my own, at my own pace and on my own schedule will be very nice.

then, of course, there’s the democratic national convention; the whole reason i’m going to philly in the first place. it’s my first national convention and to be able to participate, especially as a delegate for bernie sanders, is a privilege and i can’t wait to cast my vote for him.

in addition, and partially because of the huge groundswell of support for sanders, there will be numerous activities, meetings, forums, and events, put on by and for some great progressive organizations. these represent opportunities to network, meet, and talk with progressive activist from across the nation. while i intend to my delegate responsibilities seriously, it is these events about which i’m the most excited and interested.

there are still a lot of details about which i’m still unsure and any amount of information i still need to sift through, but one way or another i’m going to be prepared as best i can come next monday.

upon arriving in philadelphia and leading up to and during the week of the convention, i will endeavor to post regular updates here; i may look into some kind of live-tweeting plugin for my wordpress. i won’t promise anything, as i have no doubt it will be non-stop craziness, but i will try for my family and friends back here in hawaii and around the country.

earlier this week bernie sanders, sadly, endorsed hillary clinton for the democratic nomination for president. i, like so many other bernie supporters was disappointed to hear the news. rather, i had hoped to see him take the nomination fight to the convention.

still, to call bernie’s endorsement of hillary a sellout i think is hyperbolic. it’s impossible to know the details, the nuances of the conversations and agreements made between bernie and hillary. it seems to me the “bernie-or-bust” folks who have turned their ire on their one-time hero and leader is egotistical and, maybe, short-sighted. bernie hasn’t called it quits on the “revolution.” quite the contrary, in fact.

we have to remember that bernie’s been fighting the good fight longer than many of his supporters have been alive. as for myself, i’ve been navigating the ebbs and flows of local and national politics as an activist for a decade and i won’t presume to judge the strategic decision bernie made to endorse his former rival.

but let’s take a look at what bernie’s actually saying.

has it called off the revolution? nope. in fact, despite his endorsement of hillary, his campaign hasn’t officially been suspended and it continues to actively engage its supporters, particularly those who have been elected delegates to the national convention.

the contrary is actually true; he’s talking about next steps and about how to transform the presidential campaign to a long-term enduring movement for economic and social change. from the beginning he’s told us it’s not about HIM, it’s about US.

he’s talking about working and channelling our energies into congressional races and local races in which there is a progressive candidate that share’s bernie’s, shares OUR ideals. it’s not as if a magic veil would have lifted and all our hopes and dreams would be realized if bernie were the next president. this work that would have been necessary even if he were to be the nominee, even if he were elected the next president.

sure, with clinton as the nominee and potentially the next president our work may be more difficult, but no less important. nothing ever truly worth-while came without hard work and a long-term commitment; in politics, forward movement comes in excruciatingly small steps. don’t give up, don’t be angry with bernie. instead, stay focused on the issues.

i’ve been going through pictures recently, attempting to organize them and store them online, and it occurred to me the other day that now that (nearly) all my photos are online somewhere, they’d be relatively easy to share.

here is one of the oldest pictures i have in digital form; scanned from a photo long-since lost.

DadandtheGang.JPG

i liked hats even back then….

this was taken, i believe, in the spring of 1998 at my grandparents’ 60th anniversary celebration, though i can’t recall if it was in st. louis or kansas city. i’m there on the left next to my step-mom, sister, brother, and my dad on the right.

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