PHILADELPHIA– A small blue sign hung above a podium said it all: “Bernie Delegates Network for Political Revolution.”
The nomination of Hillary Clinton this week is imminent. Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-VT), a formidable foe who amassed a grassroots network of support, has endorsed her. An overwhelming majority of elected Democrats have thrown their support to Clinton. The general election matchup against the Donald Trump will get underway Friday, after the convention ends.
But some Sanders delegates are not ready to let go.
In a cramped conference room at the Marriott Hotel downtown, a few Bernie
Sanders delegates gathered to announce the next steps of their movement,
warning that Sanders himself couldn’t stop them from protesting Clinton on the floor if that is what they ultimately decide to do.
“I want to use the compost metaphor,” Norman Solomon, the executive
director of the Bernie Delegates Network, told reporters Monday morning.
“The Bernie Sanders campaign has been a fantastic boost for progressive, social movements. … Those powerful forces will endure and grow. It’s now compost. This campaign is disappearing. It’s just about become history, but it’s leaving compost that we’re gonna grow a lot out of.”
Solomon noted only that if Sanders had thoughts on his movement’s efforts at the convention, the group would “take it under advisement” just as they would any other suggestion.
As leaked emails reveal that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was long in Clinton’s corner, the most impassioned among the Sanders crew are finding themselves emboldened just when the party is supposed to be coming together and rallying around Clinton. Solomon told reporters that he’s been conducting a straw poll on how delegates want to respond to the DNC email hack news and to Clinton’s vice presidential pick of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), with whom some progressives are disappointed. (So far he notes that only 3 percent of respondents find Kaine an acceptable option.)
At a convention where Clinton is certain to walk away with the nomination, disruption by Sanders delegates may do little more than embarrass Clinton and the party’s apparatus, but that could still distract from what the convention is intended to do: unify.
Solomon noted that all options are still on the table from attempting to push an alternative VP candidate on the floor to booing Wasserman Schultz as she conducts official business to walking out of the convention hall during Clinton’s primetime speech.
California Sanders delegate Manuel Zapata warned reporters Monday morning that he expected “we are going to treat [Debbie Wasserman Schultz] with the same amount of respect her state treated her with,” an allusion to a wave of
boos she faced Monday morning at a Florida delegation breakfast.
“I don’t consider booing and chanting and being noisy and rude to be harmful. It is just part of democracy,” said Karen Bernal, the leader of the Sanders delegates in California.”
At a time when even Sanders is moving on, the delegates expressed their dismay with how they were being treated and received at the convention. Zapata said he felt other delegates were judging his Sanders swag and looking down on him, but he countered that he was still feeling a lot anxiety about the fact that “a madman like Donald Trump is reaching out for the progressive vote more than Hillary Clinton is.”
Solomon conceded, however, that the most extreme proposal floating around, finding an alternative VP candidate, had its obstacles.
“We have approached a number of people and those who want to eat lunch at
the White House … they run the other way,” Solomon said.
For now, the Sanders crowd’s plans are still fluid, but it’s possible that Sanders delegates won’t let Clinton simply have her moment this week.