The soldiers in Bernie Sanders’ political revolution took to the streets of Philadelphia by the thousands on Monday as swaths of his 1,850 delegates inside the Democratic Convention hall also made their displeasure known on the first night of the party’s national convention.
While speaker after speaker droned on about how Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine will make good on a long list of progressive promises and must be elected, enough Sanders delegates hissed, chanted and interrupted—calling out ‘Bernie, Bernie,’ or “No TPP, no TPP”—loud enough so it conflicted with the podium and could not be called anything close to the unity needed to beat Donald Trump, whose numbers in the polls rose after the GOP convention in Cleveland.
Earlier in the day, Sanders was booed by his delegation in a downtown ballroom when he told them to vote for Clinton. As delegates were bused into the convention site, a sports arena in a cordon of security on Philadelphia’s southern fringe, they passed hundreds of protesters behind wire fences with pro-Sanders signs and posters saying things like “Never Hillary.”
Sanders was slated to speak in the hall later that night and sent out releases saying that he would slam Donald Trump and make the case for Clinton. But by Monday afternoon, he sent out another release warning against “booing, turning our backs, walking out or similar displays,” because, he said, “that’s what Mr. Trump wants.”
But whether Sanders can convince his delegation to fall in line was emerging as the question of the night—and possibly the 2016 campaign. Hours before Sanders took the stage, his delegates did not succeed in amending the party platform with specific anti-Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact language. They wanted to get congressional Democrats to oppose it if came up for a vote after the fall election. One activist said it was the best way to keep Sanders’ revolution alive.
Platform Setback in The Big Hall
But it was not meant to be. As Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-MD, the platform committee chairman strode to the podium to extoll the party’s values and ideals, he was interrupted by shouts of “No TPP. No TPP.” Cummings ignored it and pushed ahead, but his words clashed with the chants. It was only when he said the platform was pro-choice, that cheers from the room became louder than Sanders’ delegates chants. As he left the podium, their chants continued. Then, suddenly, the sound system kicked in and music drowned out the room. A video quickly started about the committee’s good work. “In the end, the platform committee come together in the spirit of unity for Democrats and our country,” its cheery narrator said. When it ended, there were no claps.
Then the platform co-chairs took the stage and moved the adoption of their panel’s work. “I’m proud to present the most ambitious platform the Democratic Party has ever offered,” said Paul Booth, a committee member and union leader from Washington, D.C.. After citing highlights, he said the party needed leaders like Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine to deliver on the platform’s promises. One section of the audience cheered and while another started chanting, “Bernie, Bernie.”