DNC day one: All about Bernie

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Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention … well I caught a couple hours of Morning Joe on MSNBC. I confess, I’ve been tuned into MSNBC pretty religiously so far, but I’ll be checking out CNN and Fox News — just for some perspective. But what the hell, Joe Scarborough, once a part of the Newt Gingrich wave that took over the House of Representatives in the 1990s, is pretty darn entertaining.

Two of the most enduring symbols of Philadelphia: the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (in the background). (Wikipedia)
Two of the most enduring symbols of Philadelphia: the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (in the background).

They were doing their early morning show from an Irish Pub in Philadelphia. That’s 6 a.m. Eastern time. Sometime around 7 a.m. their time Mika Brzezinski pointed out some of the patrons were doing shots! Well duh, for all its historical significance, Philadelphia, P.A. is a working person’s town. There was a time in this country when the mills, factories and foundries were working 24/7, with maybe two or three days per year closed for holidays like Christmas, Easter and the 4th of July.

As one who has worked third shift back in the day, going to a local pub after your shift ends — at 7 a.m. — was the same as going to a pub after your shift ended at 4 p.m. People who have never worked third shift don’t understand how you can do shots at 7 a.m.

Then of course the denizens of Philadelphia are Eagles supporters. Remember the movie in which Mark Wahlberg played a local Philly guy who walked onto the practice field of the Philadelphia Eagles and earned a spot on the team? That really happened. The movie is Invincible and starred Gregg Kinnear as a coach Dick Vemeil and Wahlberg as Vince Papale, the guy who walked into the Eagles practice. The “Ultimate Underdog,” as he is called. Vince Papale, not Mark Wahlberg.

He represents the Philadelphians who get off work early in the morning and head to their favorite taverns, taps, bars and pubs to have a few drinks before they go home, have breakfast and then go to bed to get ready to do it all over again. That’s the Philadelphia the Democratic National Convention is occupying this week. So yeah, the folks in Philly have no problem doing shots at 7 a.m. it’s part of the culture, as it is in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee and many other Midwestern cities.

The people running this convention ought to take some time and talk to some of those people, a large majority of them being white, middle class working people, and find out what they think, what they feel, about what’s going on in America today. Don’t just use them as props.

The stage at the Democratic National Convention.
The stage at the Democratic National Convention.

The Democrats have the minority vote tied up. The numbers are historically in favor of them Dems, now that the GOP has chosen the clown with the orange hair as their candidate for president. But, the big question for the Democratic Party when it comes to voting blocks are the middle class white voters, the people who work those jobs, be it first, second or third shift, with their fellow citizens who happen to be African-American, Hispanic, Asian, gay or transgender.

Donald Trump and the GOP are making a credible play for their vote and the Dems could lose a large portion of that voting block. So it’s incumbent upon the Democratic Party to explain to this group of people, who are more aligned ideologically with the Dems than they are with the GOP, why it’s good for them to support and encourage a nation that is equitable for citizens of all races, creeds, sexual orientation and economic circumstance. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said 53 years ago, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Donald Trump cynically speaks to their fears of being marginalized in a world that appears to be taken over by “others.” “Them.” They need to explain that “them” is really “us.”

I grew up in a very blue-collar, heavily white, strongly Democratic city, even more so the neighborhood my family lived in. We strongly supported the various Socialist mayors, like Frank Zeidler, who held office until 1960 when Democrat Henry Maier took over and held the office until 1988. He was replaced by the very liberal John Norquist.

The point being, no matter how “liberal” our politics looked, a lot of these white folks did not like black folks. The very Democratic “Southside” remained 98 percent white, even after I left the city in 1992. And by 1980 they were voting for Ronald Reagan instead of Jimmy Carter. People who voted almost 100 percent for John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert Humphrey and even Carter in 1976.

Philadelphia has the same kind of white voters: primarily progressive in their thinking, but not entirely free of racial bias and fear. The Democratic Party needs to speak to those people who have been told by the GOP their jobs have been taken, or are in jeopardy of being taken, by “them,” the people of color in other countries, or in this country, by “those people” who take their jobs and places in college because of affirmative action.

Let them know that’s a load of shit.

Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona
Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona

Their jobs are being sent overseas because of greed, nothing more, nothing less. Yes, those people in foreign countries work for what we consider slave wages, but it is the greed of the major business owners — like Donald Trump — that take advantage of their disadvantages in life to rob that voting block — and all blue-collar Americans — of jobs.

That’s the gap the Democratic Party needs to bridge and quite frankly white Americans thinking of voting for that orange-haired charlatan: get over your racial, ethnic and religious biases. Voting Republican is like giving the GOP the Vaseline. That Ronald Reagan trickle down economics has been screwing you — us — for 35 years.

To be honest I really wanted to write about Michelle Obama’s incredible speech, the best of Monday Night’s program. She called out Trump, when she said, “That is what Barack and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight, how we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”

And as low as Republicans have gone in the past, Donald Trump has gone even lower. The GOP has, as their nominee, the biggest, loudest birther of them all. An orange-haired charlatan, a silver spoon-fed liar who has spent his career cheating workers, contractors and students out of millions of dollars, be it by declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying his bills, or daring his creditors to take him to court to get paid — or by offering courses at Trump University that were not only worthless, but plagiarized from other sources.

Michelle Obama vigorously promoted Hillary Clinton for President, saying, among other things, “You see, Hillary understands that the president is about one thing and one thing only, it’s about leaving something better for our kids. That’s how we’ve always moved this country forward, by all of us coming together on behalf of our children, folks who volunteer to coach that team, to teach that Sunday school class, because they know it takes a village.

“Heroes of every color and creed who wear the uniform and risk their lives to keep passing down those blessings of liberty, police officers and the protesters in Dallas who all desperately want to keep our children safe. People who lined up in Orlando to donate blood because it could have been their son, their daughter in that club.

“Leaders like Tim Kaine who show our kids what decency and devotion look like.

DNC Crowd“Leaders like Hillary Clinton who has the guts and the grace to keep coming back and putting those cracks in that highest and hardest glass ceiling until she finally breaks through, lifting all of us along with her.

“That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.”

And “So, look, so don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on earth!”

Damn, that was an inspirational speech in a night that featured inspiration from several sources. Like New Jersey Senator Cory Booker who started his speech like this: “Two hundred forty years ago, our forefathers gathered in this city and declared before the world that we would be a free and independent nation. Today, we gather here again, in challenging times, in this City of Brotherly Love, to reaffirm our values, before our nation and the world.

“Our purpose is not to start a great nation, but to ensure that we continue in the best of our traditions, and with humble homage to generations of patriots before, we put forth two great Americans – our nominees for President and Vice President: Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine!

“Our founding documents were genius. But not because they were perfect. They were saddled with the imperfections and even the bigotry of the past. Native Americans were referred to as savages, black Americans were referred to as fractions of human beings, and women were not mentioned at all.

“But those facts and other ugly parts of our history don’t detract from our nation’s greatness. In fact, I believe we are an even greater nation, not because we started perfect, but because every generation has successfully labored to make us a more perfect union. Generations of heroic Americans have made America more inclusive, more expansive, and more just.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey

“Our nation was not founded because we all looked alike, or prayed alike, or descended from the same family tree. But our founders, in their genius, in this, the oldest constitutional democracy, put forth on this earth the idea that all are created equal; that we all have inalienable rights. And upon this faithful foundation we built a great nation, and today, no matter who you are – rich or poor, Asian or white, man or woman, gay or straight, any religion or none at all – you are entitled to the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”

When you look at the list of speakers on Monday, it didn’t look like a “lovefest” for Hillary Clinton because so many of them were ardent supporters of Bernie Sanders — to the end. They just recognized that the end was a month ago. Ben Jealous, Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona who was the first member of Congress to throw support behind Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

Former comedian and current Senator from Minnesota Al Franken toasted Donald Trump, in his subtle manner. And he joined Sarah Silverman as she gave her speech, for some of the best comedy all week.

Plus actress Eva Longoria and comedian Sarah Silverman, who shouted down the hecklers, after they began booing when Silverman threw her support to Hillary Clinton, saying, “Can I say something? To the ‘Bernie or Bust’ people, you’re being ridiculous. Hillary is our Democratic nominee and I will proudly vote for her.”

I remember watching Silverman proudly and enthusiastically introduce Bernie Sanders here in Los Angeles. But Sarah Silverman is into reality and the reality is Hillary Clinton has won the nomination.

The biggest, most important speech of the night — which was very inspirational at times — belongs to the man himself: Bernie Sanders.

Introduced by Ellison, the duo was an example for the entire planet: a devout Muslim introducing a Jewish liberal. Think about that …

In his speech Bernie Sanders stirred the entire Wells Fargo Center, Sanders and Clinton supporters alike. The most memorable part of his speech: “Let me be as clear as I can be. This election is not about, and has never been about, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates who sought the presidency. This election is not about political gossip. It’s not about polls. It’s not about campaign strategy. It’s not about fundraising. It is not about all the things that the media spends so much time discussing.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota and comedian Sarah Silverman
Senator Al Franken of Minnesota and comedian Sarah Silverman

“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.

“This election is about ending the 40-year decline of our middle class, the reality that 47 million men, women and children today live in poverty. It is about understanding that if we do not transform our economy, our younger generation will likely have a lower standard of living than their parents.

“This election is about ending the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in America today that we currently experience, the worst it has been since 1928. It is not moral, it is not acceptable and it is not sustainable that the top one-tenth of one percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, or that the top 1 percent in recent years has earned 85 percent of all new income. That is unacceptable. That must change.

“This election is about remembering where we were seven and a half years ago when President Obama came into office after eight years of Republican trickle-down economics.

“The Republicans want us to forget that as a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, our economy was in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. That’s where we were. That is where we were. Some 800,000 people a month were losing their jobs. 800,000 people. We were running up a record-breaking deficit of $1.4 trillion and the world’s financial system was on the verge of collapse. That’s where we were when President Obama came into office.

“Well, we have come a long way in the last seven and a half years, and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden. I thank them for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession.

“Yes, we have made progress, but I think we can all agree that much, much more needs to be done.

“This election is about which candidate understands the real problems facing this country and has offered real solutions — not just bombast, not just fear-mongering, not just name-calling and divisiveness.

Bernie Fans“We need leadership in this country, which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger — not leadership which insults Latinos and Mexicans, insults Muslims and women, African-Americans and veterans, and seeks to divide us up.

“By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that — based on her ideas and her leadership — Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close.”

Monday was Bernie Sanders Day at the convention and the revolution that Sanders ignited was loudly heard and endorsed by everyone in the Wells Fargo Center. At least half the speakers, maybe more, were Bernie Sanders supporters and they made it known that the Bernie revolution was instrumental in making the Democratic Party platform the most progressive in history.

Bernie Sanders may have lost the primary elections, but his revolution won the policy fight. No TPP, $15 an hour minimum wage, free college at least for those at the bottom of the income ladder, breaking up the big Wall Street banks, ending the loopholes that reward businesses for moving American jobs to other countries and more.

Sanders had many of his supporters weeping as he spoke, reminding them why the Sanders Revolution is so important, that it wasn’t over just because he wasn’t the nominee. Bernie Sanders, even to the end, was inspiring his supporters to continue fighting for a better America and that includes voting for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.

They won a lot, so when, at the end of the night, a Bernie supporter tells an MSNBC reporter, the Monday program was a “Clinton lovefest” devoted to Hillary Clinton, and they were forced to wait until 10:30 p.m. to hear their candidate — the featured speaking slot of the evening — well, to quote the fictional character Wil McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) from the HBO show Newsroom, “I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about!”

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

Today promises to be another big day in Philadelphia. There will be messages of support for the safety of police officers and Black Lives Matter. And look who is speaking: Nancy Pelosi, the Congresswoman from San Francisco, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, former Attorney General Eric Holder, actor Tony Goldwyn, Donna Brazile, Cecile Richards, California Senator Barbara Boxer (we love you Barbara!), America Fererra and Lena Dunham, former Vermont governor and DNC Chair Howard Dean, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and introduced by actress Meryl Streep, President Bill Clinton.

On Monday he got out of his seat for Cory Booker, Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders. No doubt the crowd in the arena will get out of their seats for Bill Clinton.

Alicia Keys will close the night with some music and voila, that will be the end of Day Two at the Democratic National Convention.

If we’re lucky it won’t run on as long as this blog — but it just had to be said.

Photos from DNC YouTube live feed, unless otherwise noted.