A few thoughts going into Tuesday at the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia:
- There is a big difference in the geographic layout of the two conventions. In Cleveland, everything was right downtown. The convention itself was less than a mile walk from Public Square, where most protest and democratic activity was located over the four days. In Philadelphia, the main protest activity is going on downtown near Penn Station and City Hall, with the actual convention itself going on nearly five miles up Broad Street inside the relative sterility of Wells Fargo Arena. There are protesters at the arena, but they are separated from all convention activity by a well-constructed metal wall and a distance of a few football fields. There is no realistic opportunity to voice grievances, which is kinda the whole point of protesting and exercising one's democratic/free speech rights.
- Protests will continue. A few animating issues are present everywhere you look: "The system is rigged" and #NOTPP and #DWS and "Lock Her Up." Anti-Trans Pacific Partnership sentiment runs rampant, the image of the letters TPP slashed out in a circle is ever present. Whatever the reality of TPP, the issue is proving to be the wedge with which Trump is attempting to peel off Bernie supporters. For those who are incredulous that Bernie supporters would or could ever become Trump voters, you really should come down and talk to people in Philly right now. I met three dudes outside Wells Fargo Arena who would blow your mind with their "We support Bernie but we want to build the wall" talk. The point being that these protesters and eventual voters are deeply motivated to get involved by specific issues, not specific candidates. Which is to say that many of Bernie's most ardent supporters have abandoned Bernie for suggesting they should throw themselves behind Hillary's campaign. It is complicated.
- "Lock Her Up" sentiment every bit as strong here in Philadelphia as it was in Cleveland. Many sport t-shirts and signs with some turn on the phrase. When pressed, a variety of offenses are named, none of them criminal according to the FBI Director James Comey and others. The question of those in power playing by different rules lingers over all of this. The day started out as a slow-motion debacle, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz booed and humiliated at her own delegation's meeting, then stepping down but immediately accepting some kind of functionary role in the Clinton campaign. The protesters were animated by all of this, to be sure, and were not interested in anything anyone pro-Hillary had to say. I witnessed numerous arguments along the line of "The system is corrupt and she's a big part of it. The emails prove they were actively trying to bring down Bernie from the get go" and the response: "Hillary's a flawed human being like all of us. So what? Do you want Trump?"