Day One of the Democratic National Convention began with utter chaos in the wake of a scandal over the revelation that the party’s leadership had tilted the primary elections in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton against her contender, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
But the ink on the resignation letter of Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was barely dry before Hillary Clinton hired her as a “surrogate” national chairwoman to lead her presidential campaign — in effect, promoting her for her loyalty, corruption notwithstanding.
Speeches by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Senator Corey Booker, First Lady Michelle Obama and then “rock star” runner-up candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont helped defuse some of the tension, but there was still plenty of bitter energy to spare.
The house was packed to the rafters for the Sanders speech, with thousands of signs — ironically, in the colors of the Israeli flag — waving frantically with slogans like, “Stronger Together” and “A Future to Believe In.”
The entire hall was on its feet as Sanders walked to the podium, and the cheers shook the building for at least five full minutes, with the former candidate repeatedly trying to begin his speech, only to give up laughing. “Thank you, thank you,” he said. The applause lasted longer than that garnered by the First Lady.
Supporters with tear-filled eyes chanted, “Feel.the.Bern! Feel.the.Bern!” But when they finally allowed their hero to talk, the message he delivered was not the one they wanted to hear, despite his obvious effort to let them down gently.
The longest-serving Independent Senator in the history of the nation told his supporters they must work to defeat Donald Trump — and they MUST support Hillary Clinton to do so.
He thanked Michelle Obama for her “incredible service to our country.” And he thanked “the 13 million americans who voted for the ‘political revolution’ who gave us the 1,846 pledged delegates here tonight!” He also thanked the delegates for “being here” and for “all the work you have done,” telling them he looked forward to their votes in the roll call on Tuesday.
After thanking his family, friends and others who have seen him through his entire political career, Sanders said, “I understand that many people here and around the country are disappointed … I think it’s fair to stay that no one is more disappointed than I am.”
The blunt reference to the rigged system that had lost him the primary to Hillary Clinton was unmistakable. But equally clear was the fact that Sanders, a seasoned politician, recognized there was little he could do about it. Knowing when to fold the cards, Sanders clearly now hopes to keep as many people on board as possible, despite the obvious corruption that has been exposed.
“I hope you take enormous pride in the accomplishments we have achieved,” he said. “Together my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America, and that revolution, our revolution, continues.”
“Election days come and go but the struggle of the people to create a government that represents all of us, and not just the one — that struggle continues… I look forward to being part of that struggle with you.
“This election is not about and has never been about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates that have sought the presidency,” he declared.
“This election is about and must be about the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and our grandchildren.”