Day One From the Democratic National Convention

The Democrats take their turn at uniting a separated party

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Day One From the Democratic National Convention

Chris Hankin

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Philadelphia – It seems fair to say that the only group of people that hate Hillary Clinton more than Donald Trump supporters are Bernie Sanders supporters. Protesters packed into Philadelphia’s historic City Hall to brandish signs damning Hillary Clinton and the so called “political establishment” on Monday, the first day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC).

The DNC has a distinctly different feel than the Republican National Convention (RNC) which concluded last week in Cleveland. The constant and overwhelming presence of police officers is nonexistent in Philadelphia, where police cars are few and far between. There is a different texture to the air; the DNC feels more like a music festival than a political protest.

Blistering hot weather greeted the protesters who marched down South Broad St. for three miles before reaching the Wells Fargo Arena and FDR park. In the park, Dr. Jill Stein was joined by Cornel West, Immortal Technique, and many others to showcase the Green Party. There were repeated calls made on Bernie Sanders supporters to switch their allegiance to Dr. Stein, the progressive Green candidate.

This appeal seemed to fly in the face of the message of the day at the DNC: stronger together.  Rather than uniting the two factions of the Democratic party, many Sanders supporters are finding themselves drifting out further left and finding common ground with third party candidates like Stein. Much of this political identity crisis has been spurred by an intense hatred of the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Alec Smith and Debbie Caravella, mother and son, traveled to Philadelphia from Florida to protest Clinton’s nomination. Debbie was especially outspoken about Clinton’s shortcomings.

“What do I hate about Hillary Clinton? What don’t I hate about Hillary Clinton. She is a career criminal, okay, she has been getting away with enough criminal activity forever, and now she’s exposed. She will say anything to get a vote. Never Hillary. Hillary isn’t going to do a damn thing for any one of us,” Caravella said.

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Smith picked up where his mother left off.

“The whole idea that now Democrats have to vote for Hillary is antithetical to Democracy. She has to come and earn our votes, don’t let anyone tell you that you need to vote for her,” Smith said.

I heard this kind of criticism all day. Voters were fundamentally opposed to Clinton’s campaign, but often couldn’t voice any reasons past their visceral dislike of her. They called her a liar, a crook, and a phony, but failed to raise any real issues.

This seems strange given how many condemnable decisions Clinton has made. Whether it be the American involvement in Libya that she spearheaded or her deplorable list of financial donors, Clinton stands for so many things that are so opposite to the progressive ideas championed by Bernie. This abundance of progressive shortcomings is what makes it so frustrating to hear voters say that they simply don’t like her.

Smith and Caravella criticized her for changing her stance on the TPP once it became clear that liberal voters opposed it. In the same breath they criticized her choice of Vice President as not being far enough left.  

It seems that in the eyes of many Bernie supporters, Clinton can’t do anything right. When she responds to voters on the left who call for a more progressive candidate, she is viewed as ingenuine and she is labeled a flip flopper. When she follows her moderate political leanings, she is labeled an intractable product of the political establishment.

Clinton’s downfall may be that she has no group of voters who love her. Though both Bernie and Trump have a more narrow scope of political appeal, their supporters are passionate about their campaigns and feel that no other system will work. The RNC saw thousands of Americans pour into Cleveland to protest the nomination of Trump, but it also saw thousands of Americans rise in his defense. It remains to be seen whether the same can be said of Hillary.