The Democratic Party begins its national presidential convention in Philadelphia on Monday, under circumstances that political scientists refer to with the technical term “shitshow.”
Internal Democratic party emails leaked Friday on the Internet (by an international fascist Russian-run conspiracy or whatever, but that doesn’t matter, the emails are real) have torn off the pus-covered scab that had grown over the wounds left by the Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton primary turf war. Now, the party leadership are chewing on that scab in a power-drunk daze. Yes, gross. So gross. They discuss subjects like how to undermine Sanders by talking up his Jewish atheism to West Virginia and Kentucky voters. Another email shows the absolute horror DNC officials saw at the prospect of progress on Israel/Palestine.
Debbie Wasserman Shultz, the erstwhile chair of the Democratic National Committee, is munching hard on that scab, to the horror of everyone. On Monday morning, she made a speech to Florida delegates as some jeered her with signs decrying her role in rigging the primary election.
“I think this is a very different picture than the RNC,” said someone on CNN.
Yes it is. The Republican National Convention, predicted to be another Altamont, ended up being a pretty much arrest-free event that some say showed the peaceful utility of having hundreds and hundreds of police and armed citizens hanging around, eyeballing the hippies.
The leaked emails and, you know, common sense, show DNC did all it could to push Bernie folks out of the process. Now, they’re here in Philadelphia. They’re mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore.
A few of them came in the BernieVan, a suped-up white vehicle with Bernie regalia on it that is the brainchild of Seattle Bernie supporter and designer David Crow. He spent much of the spring registering voters in California and other states out West. I met him in San Francisco during the primaries there. He drove it with friends Corey Collier and Riley Doraine, also Bernie supporters, who’d helped register voters.
“We came there’s only so many chances in a lifetime to be part of something so huge,” said Doraine. “In terms of changing something so big and standing up for the right to vote. For me, as a Marine, people have died for that.”
The Bernie Van joins hundreds of other minivans and cars and motorcycles that have brought thousands of people to Philadelphia. Philly, unlike Cleveland, is easily accessible by about 30 million human beings living on the East Coast. Everybody knows someone living in Philadelphia. That was less the case in Cleveland, which is more out of the way.
The Bernie Van makes friends wherever it goes by distributing free water to people.
“We’re never Hillary, all the way,” Riley said.
“I feel coerced into voting for Hillary Clinton,” I said. “That I will be a ‘traitor’ if I don’t vote for her.”
“Exactly,” said Riley as we sat inside the Bernie Van on Sunday night.
“Trump I’m afraid…I can’t believe it but he might become more popular as the Establishment falls in line behind him.”
“The amnesia of the media…” I said.
“Like we should deport Muslims are surveil Muslims…” Riley offered.
“It’s just like Michael Moore said, talking about the media…there’s a loss for words for how bad the media is.”
“That’s what I think when I see Trump: We suck,” I said. “We have failed so hard.”
Then some people came by looking for water. The Bernie Van had it. They were telling people to go to Philly.fyi for information about protests. More people came by for free water.
I asked Riley about what role she thought Arab Americans felt played in this year’s election. Many voiced enthusiastic support for Sanders.
“I’ve met a bunch that actually are very pro-Sanders,” Riley said.
One of the reasons why Arab Americans gravitated towards Sanders was not only his outreach to the community, but also his position on Palestine. Sanders acknowledged the “disproportionate” response Israel took against Gaza in 2014.
“What’s the responsibility Americans have to Israel/Palestine,” I asked Riley, who was wearing a Philly.fyi shirt.
“I mean now there’s already a nation state there. Right now what we need to do is we need to bring communion to them, to bring them together that should be our role there to keep the peace,” Riley said.
“In building communion, how can an average American help with that?”
“By working towards a progressive policy that works towards the alliance between Israelis and Palestinians,” she said. “It’s about opening hearts and minds.”
More people came by for water. Temperatures even in the evening were still in the 80s. One person getting free water suggested that they “bring free water to the Hillary people. We need to encourage the super delegates to walk away.”
“Hugs and free water, human rights,” Riley said. “I think everybody deserves to be loved. I think water is a fundamental necessity and therefore should be a right.”
If someone brought that attitude about love and water to Israel/Palestine, that’d be really revolutionary. For now, that idea is in a van near Franklin Delano Roosevelt park in Philadelphia, waiting to be heard. Unfortunately for Riley and David and thousands others, the Democratic Party isn’t listening.
But the chattering continues on CNN, the laughter and moral equivalency. I just listened to Chris Cuomo make excuses for Trump’s history of racism to Nicholas Kristoff, who had found a pattern of racist discrimination by the Trump organization. He’s also the brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a foe of free speech and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Meanwhile, the channel keeps recycling uninsightful questions meant not to offend anybody.
“Do we live in Donald Trump’s America, or Hillary Clinton’s America?” another CNN anchor just said, mentioning Trump’s role in the Republican party as a “man on a white horse coming to its rescue.”
Lol. Sure is a white horse, CNN, or, as Johnny Cash put it in a quote from Revelations in his song “When the Man Comes Around”: “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts and looked and behold, a pale horse. And the name that it said on it was death. And hell followed with him.”
Stay tuned for updates.