While Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is over, what he started must continue in the spirit of democracy.
Vinod Seth, MD, an internist and infectious disease physician will share his thoughts on being both a doctor and a delegate for the Democratic Party. Seth practices in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Dr. SethNorth Dakota supported Bernie Sanders for president by a large plurality. Maybe because of that, we were relegated to the last row at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, just below the stadium boxes where 1% ate and drank merrily. As the speeches droned on, a fellow “Berner” pointed out Chelsea Clinton seated directly behind. I last remember Chelsea as a pimply-faced teenager at her high school graduation from Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.; I was there as an uncle.
Further reading: Obamacare receives a big, fat 'F' from physicians
The excitement for Berners began early as we were bussed to the convention; it was surreal. Two rows of high fencing circled the perimeter of the parking lot of the sports arena named after a bailed out, “too-big-to-fail” bank, Wells Fargo. The fences and cement barricades created a 50-yard-wide grassy area where many police lounged under the shade of open tents. One could see many horses but no police dogs. They were likely hidden. We snaked through the barricades slowly. The protestors suffering in the horrible afternoon heat were far away.
Democracy Spring activists had disrupted the schedule of our buses. The movement organization seeks a return to publicly funded elections, the end of superdelegates, and several other voters’ rights. Hundreds of delegates were stranded in the hot summer sun of early afternoon Philadelphia outside the convention center. With no water around, it was surprising that only two fainted. The protest delayed the start of the DNC by one hour. All Bernie delegates had finished listening to Bernie. He excited the base of his committed delegates. At the end, he praised Hillary. Boos thundered out, surprising Bernie-a harbinger of what was to come later.
We stood up for an invocation. Rev. Cynthia Hale asked for God’s blessing for the nominee of the Democrats-Hillary Rodham Clinton. Spontaneous loud boos rocked the house and went on and on. The invocation to God for Clinton was interrupted. I hope God was not upset.
This pattern of boos continued every time a speaker mentioned Clinton. By the afternoon, with long lines of overpriced bad food and drink, rock concert level noise and horrible acoustics, the general weariness of us all, numbed by countless speeches invoking the specter of a new ogre who would destroy our beloved nation, the Berners boos finally died down.
However, discontent simmered just under the surface. Al Franken, the comedian/senator from Minnesota came on. He seemed to have lost his touch. His comedy routine fell flat. Sara Silverman, who I feel rode Bernie’s popularity for her own gain, joined him. She was booed heartily by throats that had rested for a few hours, for deserting Bernie.
The proudly and repeatedly touted “most progressive Democratic platform ever” does include a push to limit college debt, pledges to protect Obamacare and, as a sop to the young, a $15 minimum wage. . Like many ambitious platforms of yore, it would mean little to Clinton if elected. An attempt to paper over the many differences with progressives, the thousands of new millennial voters and protesters nationwide was made “in the name of party unity.”
The utter boredom of the DNC soon drove me to Twitter. The most sobering of the videos was from Democracy Spring where young men and women courted arrest. They climbed over fences, one by one, police on the other side ready cuffing them behind their backs and moving them to the paddy wagons. Gandhi’s Salt March from the movie came to mind.
Further reading: DNC speakers highlight Clinton's healthcare dedication
Bernie’s political revolution must be kept alive by all lovers of democracy.
Power does not give in easily.
I pray these passionate, nonviolent diverse Americans will continue this revolution in the months to come are unharmed as they challenge our burgeoning oligarchy.
Editor’s Note: Seth participated in a walkout with fellow Sanders supporters on Tuesday after Sanders yielded the nomination to Clinton. Seth was quoted in the media as calling Tuesday’s event “a sad day.” He’ll offer more perspective in his next blog.