There was a great deal of talk about the “low protester turnout” problem at the GOP Convention last week. Many people in the media and on the ground in Cleveland expressed dismay at the ratio of media to actual protesters. It is true that certain times at Public Square resembled a summer camp for media trainees, everyone clamoring for access an argument between a geriatric “Bikers for Trump” delegate and a People’s Resistance spokesman or an anti-fascist and a “Jesus hates everything” enthusiast.
Months ago I was at a Donald Trump rally in San Diego and witnessed some intensely wrought protests and counter-protests which repeatedly devolved into violence. By and large, Cleveland was not that. Certain members of the media expressed private dismay at the “lack of action” - the relative tranquility seemed welcome to everyone on a personal level but could prove challenging on a professional one. “If it bleeds it leads” is alive and well. There was little to no bleeding at the GOP Convention. There was intense conversation and argument and protest. There was back and forth. There was democracy, but it didn’t get to fists. This is good progress.
Which leads us to the first day of the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia. We just arrived in Philly an hour ago and downtown is packed. There are traffic jams everywhere you look. There is a vastly smaller police presence here as compared to Cleveland, where it was customary to look to your right and see a dozen cops waiting in riot gear across from two dozen of their counterparts on the same street. There are small protests going on each corner. The obligatory “Jesus loves you but wants you to suffer” guys have been reduced to a small sideshow on a block far away from the main stem.
We spoke to a Bernie delegate from Arizona named Kelly Thornton (Listen to her speak at www.soundcloud.com/liveontapepod/
). She recounted the story of shouting down Debbie Wasserman-Schultz at the Florida delegation breakfast this morning. Judging by her tone and level of anger towards the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, there is a severe rift in Philadelphia. If the 40 percent of the Democratic party which voted for Bernie is intent on continuing to demonstrate their dissatisfaction, this is not going to be a love fest. The first sign I saw said, “Hillary For Prison, 2016” and that theme has continued to be visible. The Debbie Wasserman-Schulz question is animating much of the anger. So much for unity and a Convention which would contrast Democratic Party professionalism against the amateur hour of the GOP in Cleveland. Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to fists.