Dispatches From Philadelphia

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Democratic vice presidential candidate, Senator Tim Kaine, right, stand on stage during the fourth day session of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Thursday, July 28, 2016. 

HAROLD MEYERSON

The Three Powerful Messages of the Democratic Convention

The Democrats left Philadelphia last night after a generally successful convention that conveyed three messages.

The first was simply that we are, as the campaign says ad nauseum, stronger together, and that Donald Trump’s efforts to pull us apart will—well, pull us apart. No convention has ever emphasized tolerance and equality—and the costs of intolerance and the denial of rights—like this one. None ever featured so prominently every minority or out-group. In the first two hours (4 to 6 p.m. Eastern time) of Thursday’s session, more than 25 speakers came to the podium, not one of them a straight white male. The most devastatingly effective of these presentations, however, came during primetime, when the father of a Muslim Arab-American immigrant who became an army officer and died in Iraq to save his troops, indignantly asked Donald Trump if he’d ever even read the Constitution. Speaker after speaker, culminating with Hillary Clinton herself, both decried Trump’s bigotry and extolled the advances towards equality among non-straight-white-males that the Democrats have championed and will continue to champion. Read More.

 

JAKE BLUMGART

Democrats Uniting, But Wounds Linger

The scene at the Democrats’ gathering in Philadelphia this week looked downright peachy compared with the problem-plagued Republican National Convention in Cleveland. But that doesn’t mean the anger and disappointment of Bernie Sanders voters can be shunted aside. This is a profile of a tiny sliver of the forces within the Democratic Party that want to see more left-wing results than what we’ve been getting for the past 40 years. 

Tensions ran especially high on Monday and Tuesday, and were palpable both in the Wells Fargo Center and on the streets. The sidewalks of Philadelphia were the scene of occasional confrontations between the two factions. On Tuesday night a 5,000-person column marched down south Broad Street, a combination of diehard Sanders supporters, socialists, and Black Lives Matter activists. Fights broke out, and a few people burned American flags. In the end, the marchers dissipated, leaving behind a vivid illustration of divisions in their wake. Read More.

 

ROBERT KUTTNER

Democratic Unity: The Very Tricky Case of Trade

The unity on display at the Democratic National Convention both Monday and Tuesday nights was nothing short of remarkable. Bernie Sanders has been a radical insurgent all of his political life. He defined himself a democratic socialist and political independent because he could not stomach the corporatized Democratic Party epitomized by the Clintons.

Yet Sanders, working the caucuses, spent his political capital quelling the same radical energy that he had inspired—in favor of unity behind Hillary Clinton. By Tuesday night, he could move the nomination of his rival by acclamation, and the handful of boos from his own hard-core were all but inaudible.

Did Sanders sell out? I don’t think so. Read More.

 

JUSTIN MILLER

How the DNC Avoided a Philly Airport Worker Strike

For all the discord and angry protests at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this week, organizers should at least be grateful that most delegates arrived without incident. Had the city’s airport workers not narrowly averted a strike on Sunday, things could have been even more chaotic still, with stranded delegates unable to land in Philadelphia.

In the week leading up to the Democratic National Convention, it had looked all but certain that airport workers at the Philadelphia International Airport would go on strike, creating a travel nightmare for thousands of delegates who had been set to arrive by plane.

Airport workers had staged actions and protests throughout the week, and had voted to walk off the job during the convention itself. The workers have complained of low wages, meager benefits, and retaliation against airport employees who were trying to organize a union with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ. Read More.

 

RACHEL M. COHEN

Q&A: The Education Stakes in Election 2016

Last October, the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, gave Hillary Clinton one of her earliest organized labor endorsements. Since then, the powerful group has been one of Clinton’s most vocal supporters. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have spent much time discussing public K-12 education issues during the primary season. But recently, elementary and secondary education topics have attracted more attention. Clinton began articulating her education policy ideas at union conventions this month and Republican leaders championed school choice at their national convention last week.

The American Prospect’s Rachel Cohen sat down in Philadelphia with Lily Eskelsen García, the president of the three million-member NEAto discuss the upcoming election, and what’s at stake for teachers and students. What follows is an edited and condensed transcript of that conversation. Read More.

 

NATHALIE BAPTISTE

Black Lives Matter Movement Splintering at DNC

While Democratic delegates were busy nominating the first woman to lead a major-party presidential ticket, Black Lives Matter protesters were downtown outside Philadelphia City Hall driving home a message their own: “Don’t vote for Hillary, she’s killing black people.”

The contrast between the chanting activists outside on the gritty, hot Philadelphia streets and the cheering delegates inside the festive, air-conditioned convention hall are the starkest indications yet that that the Black Lives Matter movement is poised to split between people who support more vigorous protests and those who favor working within the political system.

Tuesday’s Black DNC Resistance March attracted hundreds of people of all ages and races. Marchers wore “Stop Killing Black People” T-shirts and waved signs depicting the names of the scores of black men and women killed by police in recent years. Some protesters carried large white banners that read, “Hillary, Delete Yourself,” (a reference to the email scandal that engulfed the former secretary of state) and “Hillary has blood on her hands.” Read More.

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