Sanders struggles to unite his ‘political revolution’ behind Clinton

Party disunity overshadows Democratic convention as Bernie fans boo their own man

Vermont Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses the Democratic National Convention  in Philadelphia. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Vermont Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

 

As John Lennon’s rallying anthem Come Together blared out over the speakers, three Bernie Sanders supporters refused to answer their candidate’s call to back Hillary Clinton.

“We’re not sore losers,” said Elayne Petrucci from Detroit, sitting up in the Michigan delegation in the stands at the Wells Fargo Centre.

“There was proven collusion right from the get-go,” she continued. “We were told that we were paranoid, we were conspiracy theorists, we should be wearing tin-foil hats. Everything that we said was verified and validated.”

Democratic Party emails, posted by Wikileaks last Friday, confirmed everything they suspected during a brutal primary between Clinton (68), the former US secretary of state, and Sanders (74), the Vermont socialist senator: namely, that the party stacked the race against Sanders.

Petrucci and fellow Michiganders Al Benchich and Aleesha Fagan were among the angriest state delegations on Monday, booing and giving a thumbs-down at every mention of Clinton’s name at the Democratic national convention in south Philadelphia.

Michigan, as it happens, was Sanders’s most surprising state win.

Invalidate primary

Donald Trump

“It was not a fair election and we should redo it,” said Fagan, holding a “Bernie for President” campaign poster. Her friends are holding up doctored Clinton “Love Trumps Hate” posters that now read: “Bernie’s Love Trumps Hate” and “Bernie Trumps Trump”.

The Democratic convention was intended to unify the party, In the first two days, however, Sanders has struggled to prevent a split emerging not just within the party, but within his own “political revolution”.

Reflecting the tensions within the party and Clinton’s unpopularity, there appears to have been more protesters in Philadelphia this week than at the Republican convention in Cleveland last week, though this may be an uneven comparison: many establishment Republicans did not bother attending Trump’s convention.

Sanders’s own supporters booed him when he mentioned Clinton’s name in Monday night’s closing speech. The Vermont senator’s address was intended to coalesce support behind the presumptive Democratic nominee ahead of her being officially named the party’s standard-bearer in the November 8th election against Donald Trump last night.

“Any objective observer will conclude that, based on her ideas and her leadership, Hillary Clinton must become the next presidendt of the United States, ” he said.

Unite support

Elizabeth WarrenMichelle Obama

Obama did so most effectively with a personal, deeply affecting “think of the children” speech that brought down the house and will be long remembered.

Sanders’s task was different: convincing his base to pivot right to Clinton.

“It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That’s what this campaign has been about. That’s what democracy is about,” said Sanders, offering the compromises reached at the party’s policy platform as an olive branch to supporters.

He pointed to the party’s stance now on breaking up major Wall Street institutions, passing a new law to separate high-street banks from investment banks, and opposition to “job-killing” free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Agreement.

Direct hit

Sarah Silverman

“To the ‘Bernie or Bust’ people, you’re being ridiculous!” she said in an unscripted line, setting off more “Bernie!” chants and “Hillary!” counter- chants echoing around the hall.

For Sanders supporters, to shift from a candidate who appeared ideologically pure, who repeatedly highlighted his erstwhile bitter rival’s ties to big corporations and Wall Street, and who persistently questioned her liberal bona fides, is hard to stomach.

He was booed by his own supporters again yesterday at a breakfast meeting of Californian Democrats when he called on them to beat Trump by voting for Clinton.

“It’s easy to boo,” he responded, trying to be heard over the noise, “but it is harder to look your kids in the face who would be living under a Donald Trump presidency.”

On the convention floor, Bernie supporter Emily Adams (51), from Ithaca, New York, said she has not yet decided if she will vote for Clinton in November. She said she may not even need to because New York is a blue state.

“I don’t think there is party unity yet,” Adams said. “There maybe could be, but it would depend on whether we, on the Bernie side, see some genuine outreach to our supporters and to our causes and beliefs.”

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