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.