• convention

When asked to write an article about my recent experiences at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia, I found myself stuck on how to approach the piece.

Should I write it like a diary of my reflections? Should I include my emotions/opinions? What did people want to know?

To find out, I asked my friends on Facebook what they would most like to know about this experience.

Q: Watching from home, the party was able to project an image of unity the longer the convention went on. Was that your impression as well?

A: In my experience, there was more unity as the convention progressed.

Sunday night, I left a show where people were encouraged to chant “Hillary!” I just wasn’t ready for that yet.

Monday night was very sad for me. I witnessed childish (not horrendous just not honorable) behavior by both sides. When Paul Simon sang “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” I couldn’t contain my tears. A Clinton delegate next to me put his arm around me. I was thankful that no camera captured the ugly crying that ensued, but I really needed that good cry.

Tuesday night I still couldn’t bring myself to cheer enthusiastically, but I was progressing to acceptance. The roll call vote on Tuesday was the first big step for many of us to move on as you really couldn’t cheer for the nominee until there formally was one. Until then, some of the Bernie Facebook groups many of us followed had various “Hail Mary Pass” rumors where Bernie could still pull off a victory. This, of course, fed a false hope. I left early that night because I really needed sleep.

Wednesday night, I sat by a sweet Hillary delegate, Gretchen Lowe from Madison. Her empathy and simple kindness went a LONG way in my journey. She had been in my situation in 2008 when Hillary lost to Obama. I know she wanted to get up and cheer with all her heart. She did not. When signs were handed out before Joe Biden’s speech, she made sure I got the last one. She said she wanted me to have it. Realizing that we were grieving and some of the anger was because there was no formal venue to express concerns, I reached out to Martha Laning and Kory Kozloski, Chair & Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), to consider a forum for WI Bernie delegates to talk thru our concerns while we were still at the convention.

Thursday morning, after breakfast, about 30 Wisconsin Bernie delegates were invited by DPW to stay and voice questions and concerns with DPW. Many were grateful for this necessary conversation, which I expect was a first conversation and not the last.

I wasn’t able to attend Thursday night’s convention as my flight left at 6PM.

Q: What percentage of Bernie supporters actually could not get on board with Hilary?

A: I have no idea on percent or the impact time will have on people’s choices. Some will never vote for Hillary, but by the showing at our Thursday morning meeting, I would say most want to work within the party to impact the platform and elections going forward.

Q: Who was your favorite speaker?

A: There were so many great speakers, but Joe Biden was my favorite. I especially liked this quote from his speech, “…we lead by not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.”

Q: What was your biggest take-away?

A: One person’s “truth” is another’s distortion. They are both sincere. I saw a lot of good and some childish behavior by both Clinton AND Sanders delegates.

Working together on SOLUTIONS engages me.

I have no patience for zealots (even those I mostly agree with) who seem more interested in criticizing and gaining attention than in taking the time to understand another while they seek to be understood.

For this I need to give a shout out to Anne Bachner. Her “Duelog vs. Dialog” lesson from our High School Communications class has had some major staying power!

Q: How much of what you did felt as if you were an extra in a carefully produced television show, and how much of it felt like you were a participating member in a group of citizens who were coming together to discuss and decide the future of their party and our nation?

A: The main events were NOT designed for discussion. This happened in Platform and Rules Committee meetings with smaller groups before the convention. I think this was a major misconception for those of us that were first time convention goers.

While the main evening events were clearly and necessarily scheduled to run smoothly, it felt much less staged to me than the televised debate I attended in Milwaukee awhile back.

I did notice that the media seemed to focus on those that stood out in the crowd (i.e. those wearing cheese heads or protesting in some manner).

The crowd reactions were organic. Signs were handed out before various speakers to match that speaker (i.e. MICHELLE signs before Michelle Obama spoke).

Q: Is it true Bernie supporters were not allowed their signs, barred from meetings, kept out of the building, etc…or are the headlines on this just click bait?

A: From what I witnessed in the Wisconsin delegation, this was mostly click bait. People that everyone knew would protest, including my roommate, were given credentials until the end of the convention. People were asked not to raise signs that were not handed out at the convention; however, there were MANY “NO TPP” signs displayed on Wednesday night. I didn’t see anyone removed from the convention. I did see someone snap a photo of a delegate with an unauthorized sign.