I’d planned on submitting a daily summary of the goings on at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week. I was able to do that last Monday, but then my plans went awry. Too much going on, too little time, exhaustion set in; so instead I’m summarizing my experience in this one piece. I was not alone in being very tired at the end of the week: I did not talk with one delegate who felt differently. So much going on, so much emotional energy spent, so much, so much.
By now, most of you have viewed a lot of coverage on television and in the press, blogs, tweets, Facebook and other smart media forms on the major events of the convention. I won’t replicate any here; instead, I’ll give some of my impressions and a sense of the mechanics that took place as a Hillary Clinton PLEO Delegate — not a Super Delegate but a Party Leader/Elected Official — selected competitively at the June 19 State Democratic Convention.
My Sunday morning flight out of SeaTac was like a Convention event in itself, with large numbers of delegates, elected officials, volunteers, guests, sponsors, campaign consultants, and family members onboard. It was a very social time with a lot of chatting in the aisles. Among those on the flight were U. S. Representative Suzan Delbene, Governor Jay Inslee and Trudi Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine and his family, and State Rep. Noel Frame.
We were on Alaska Airlines Flight 32 non-stop – I was very pleased so many were flying our home airline, especially as it was a major sponsor of the Washington State Democrats Delegation (which I arranged as well as of Amazon.com).
After arriving in Philadelphia, we heard about the WikiLeaks of Democratic National Committee email, supposedly a result of Russia’s hacking of its email, and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation. There was of course a lot of buzz about this and talk among some of the Bernie Delegates about a resurgence in getting him nominated. After arriving at our delegation hotel, Sheraton Society Hill, which we shared with the Massachusetts’ delegation, I walked to the Spirit of Philadelphia ship docked along the Delaware River for our joint delegation Welcome Reception. It was a fun time, very high energy, upbeat, and without any obvious animosity between Hillary and Bernie supporters. State Democrats Chair Jaxon Ravens and his Massachusetts counterpart Thomas McGee welcomed us, followed by rousing remarks made by Gov. Inslee and Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ed Markey. Food, drinks, dancing, and excitement were a good way to start things off even with the tension about the DNC email situation.
The big event afterwards was the Philadelphia 2016 Welcome Party at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, located in several buildings on a hill with a gorgeous view of downtown. There were huge throngs all around and even huger traffic. It was a mood of excitement and celebration.
Each day’s routine was similar. After a late night, I went to breakfast at 7 a.m., and obtained the day’s credential to get into the Wells Fargo Arena for the Convention. Non-delegates signed up for the daily lottery to obtain guest credentials, allocated based on proportionately of Bernie/Hillary Delegates — about three-quarters Bernie and one-quarter Hillary.
Speaking at Monday’s breakfast were Ravens, U.S. Rep Suzan Delbene, and Gov. Inslee. Noteworthy, I perceived no rancor between Bernie and Hillary supporters. (Unfortunately, though, the situation changed big time as the week went on.) Tuesday and Thursday we had joint breakfasts with the Massachusetts Delegation with remarks made by Congressional leaders from each state. Wednesday, Bernie Sanders spoke, which was very exciting! Each morning I could see that Delegates were increasingly tired. Arriving back to the hotel after midnight each night (later if went on to parties), took a toll, especially getting up very early for the breakfast meetings. And we were on the go after the breakfasts to attend events, luncheons, rallies, etc., all over Philadelphia until leaving for the Arena mid-afternoon. The day’s opening gavel took place sometime between 3:30 – 5 p.m. and many of us tried to get there early to get a decent seat where our delegation sat. We had a fairly good location, high up but directly across from the stage. It wasn’t easy, though, as many of us became dehydrated; the crowds were enormous as were the lines for refreshments, at times more than an hour standing in line;and we were continually being asked for interviews by media. Plus having to basically sit for about eight or nine hours with a lot of stress and stimuli overload.
Delegates mainly took free buses or light rail to the arena, which was four miles from our hotel. Unfortunately, the one about fifty of us went on the first day took almost two hours to arrive as the bus driver didn’t take the right exit and then got lost. Neither she nor the Homeland Security Agent on board was familiar with Philadelphia. It was a nightmare. Fortunately, we had no significant problems the rest of the week, except for an enormous thunder and lightning storm while arriving at the arena on Thursday.
The major players of the Democratic Party came together, unlike at the RNC. Monday we had outstanding speeches by Michelle Obama, U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Disappointingly, many Bernie Delegates throughout the arena including some in Washington Delegation, continually chanted “Bernie” when people spoke, including Reps. John Lewis and Elijah Cummings, and jeers and finger pointing toward Warren: “We trusted you,” and at Bernie himself for his gracious speech endorsing Hillary. I’m a strong believer in civil disobedience and freedom of speech, but much of what went on was downright rude and disrespectful to leaders who have fought their entire careers for these same rights (apologies were made to some the next day).
Overall, Monday was filled vast exuberance and celebration, but also with some rancor and disruptions. Many, but not all, Bernie Delegates segregated themselves and during the week seemed obviously distressed and even bitter toward Hillary Delegates, accusing them of mistreatment. I didn’t see that but could understand their feeling let down. There’s a lot of discussion going on still and it will take time to mend hurt feelings and huge disappointment, but I’m optimistic most of us will come together.
Tuesday we had the roll call of the states for Hillary’s nomination with Sanders graciously requesting nomination by acclamation, and former Pres. Bill Clinton’s poignant story of his meeting Hillary and their life together. Wednesday night was incredibly exciting with speeches given by Vice President Joe Biden, V.P. Nominee Tim Kaine, and President Obama. Thursday night, of course, was Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech following many moving speeches and being introduced by her daughter, Chelsea. Many, many others spoke and entertainers did what they do best. To me, the entire Convention was exceptionally well choreographed and had outstanding speakers representing ordinary Americans indicating why they support Hillary.
Some of my favorite statements during the Convention were:
“Don’t boo, vote…I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together—black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young and old; gay, straight; men, women; folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love…There has never been a man or woman…not me, not Bill, nobody…more qualified to serve as President of the United States of America.” — President Barack Obama
“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves and I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn…Because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters take for granted that a women can be President of the United States… When Hillary lost the election eight years ago, she didn’t get angry or disillusioned. Hillary did not pack up and go home.” — First Lady Michele Obama
“…Any objective observer will conclude that — based on her ideas and her leadership — Hillary Clinton must become the next President of the United States. The choice is not even close.” — Senator Bernie Sanders.
“We cannot elect a man who belittles our allies and embraces dictators like Putin.” — Vice President Joe Biden
“Speaking is difficult for me. But come January, I want to say these two words: Madam President.” — Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
“We will rise.” — U.S. Senator Cory Booker
“What kind of man cheats students, cheats investors, cheats workers? I’ll tell you what kind of a man. A man who must never be President of the United States. Never!” — U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren
“Donald Trump…have you read the Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy…Have you been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave Americans who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing.” — Khizr Khan, Pakistani immigrant whose son died in 2004 at age 27 defending the U.S.
“To the Bernie or Bust people—you’re being ridiculous.” — Entertainer and Bernie supporter, Sarah Silverman
“Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.” — Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
“It’s time to put a bully racist in his place, and a tough woman in hers—The White House.” — Martin O’Malley, Former Maryland Governor
“Donald, you’re not fit to polish John McCain’s boots.” — Ret. Navy Admiral John Hutson
“Poor kids, you got a champion! Kids who need help, you got a champion! As long as she’s in charge, we’re never going back! — Donna Brazile
“Donald, you’re so vain, you probably think this speech is about you.” — Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.
“Women are going to be the reason you’re (Trump) not elected to be President.” — Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President
“I got my doctorate in Megalomania Studies at Trump University.” — U.S. Sen. Al Franken
“What does it take to be the first female anything? It takes grits, and it takes grace….She’ll be the first, but she won’t be the last.” — Actor Meryl Streep
“In the spring of 1971, I met a girl.” — President Bill Clinton
“This isn’t about being politically correct. This is about saving our children. That’s why we’re here tonight with Hillary Clinton.” — Sybrina Fulton, mother of slain youth Trayvon Martin.
And from Hillary Clinton:
“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we should trust with nuclear weapons.”
“Let’s keep going until every one of the 16 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves to have.”
“Whenever barriers fall in America, it clears the way for everyone.”
“To Bernie supporters around the world, I want you to know, I’ve heard you. Your cause is our cause.”
“Let’s be stronger together; let’s build a better tomorrow for our beloved children and beloved country.”
“And if there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just day, I may become the first woman President, but one of you is next.” Hillary Clinton
“If fighting for affordable child care and paid family leave is playing the woman card, then deal me in.”
“When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”