Wow. Just got out of the reptile show they call the Democratic National Convention and holy hell my head is spinning. I haven’t blogged in the 6 months since I devoted my will and all my free time to Bernie Sanders via Rave For Bernie. Now it’s 2 am in Philly, Hillary just closed out the DNC and I’m trying to piece together what the fuck just happened. Let me open with some words from my dear friend Tony, who’s infinitely more knowledgable and less jaded than myself.
“48 hours in Philly have been very cathartic for this Bernie supporter. There is so much unabashed love and passion for him here. Everywhere I went men and women of all ages and races were to kickin’ it in their freshest Bernie gear and just so quick to smile, chat, and show that the truth is out and the struggle continues. Most seemed to be locals, just walking in their neighborhood or commuting to work. So much honking and yelling “Ya Bernie!” everywhere we walked. Even inside the walls of the DNC convention, where I proudly sported my psychedelic Tim Leary-meets-Sanders t-shirt, the passion and love for him and his contributions were at a fever pitch and the Clintonites on all sides of me were so quick to discuss how great Sanders’ is and clap just as loud when he was praised from the stage.
Some of the shout outs to him and his crowd from the stage may have been given begrudgingly or motivated solely by the desire for party unity, but it doesn’t make the content of the words any less true. And the fierce applause and standing ovations received by Bernie himself on Monday night and anyone who brought up his name afterward showed that he is not destined to be just another “also ran.” He has already begun to radically reshape the party (Clinton and the DNC essentially co-opted his platform and talking points, minus some key parts about Israel and neocon military interventionism), forced discussions that won’t be soon forgotten, compelled Obama to say Bernie’s supporters have energized the party and reminded us all how impt it is to hold our elected reps accountable, etc. At the convention center’s bar, right after the DNC let out following Hillary’s speech, the place broke out into impromptu chants of “THANK YOU, BERNIE!” as delegates and attendees danced and laughed. There were a few in the mix who were unimpressed and would have much preferred a thanks to Hillary instead. But that’s just not where the passion is on the ground.”
I thought I was coming to Philly to protest and tell everyone what the fuck was up cause I thought I knew, turns out I came here to learn. Walking around this place with a 6 ft raver Bernie Sanders sign during the DNC was an open solicitation for discussion, and boy were discussions had. A middle aged Jamaican immigrant at the Dunkin Donuts next to the Liberty Bell earlier today was clearly not going to let me go until I promised him to get all my friends to vote for the reptile queen Shillary Clinton, and I got a little ancy. Then Tony interjected to make an incredible point – if this guy and I were having the very same conversation online one of us would have already called the other an asshole by now and the discussion would have disintegrated. But people don’t troll in person for the most part, they look each other in the eye and listen for as long as they can stand to. We learned something from each other and it felt like a miracle.
This has been happening nonstop since I got to Philly. A man named George driving a mini-van saw my Bernie sign, pulled over, rolled down his window and asked if I’d be willing to mediate a discussion with his wife Cheryl on speaker phone about why she should vote for Hillary because he “didn’t want to argue anymore.” I arrived there Wednesday morning, the day after Bernie officially ended his campaign, ready to join the Revolution and protest in the streets. Much to my own surprise considering the fact that I’ve been campaigning for my hero for months and it’s completely changed my life, I also came in ready to suck it up and vote for Hillary. When I heard people were booing Bernie after his DNC speech my heart broke – he did what he had to ensure the Democratic party carried on his agenda. He changed the game and now his own supporters are booing him? I couldn’t believe it.
What I found when I arrived to Philly was a broken and scattered constituency. I’d seen FDR Park on TV the last 2 days, the official Berner protest site, it was lit AF, it looked like my protest fantasy. I imagined singing “we shall overcome” and yelling things like, “Bern the DNC!” but nothing like that ever happened. Much to my dismay there were just few dozen hippies lying around and twice as many frazzled reporters desperately seeking a story where there was none – it looked like an Occupy site 8 months and tons of bad press in.
A lot of the Berners were following Jill Stein around, her rally Wednesday night at City Hall was packed out. Immortal Technique introduced her LOL/awesome/see below. Another faction were on the Black Men for Bernie train, which is where I ended up, because that group didn’t seem to harbor any ill will against him. At their rally at City Center Thursday afternoon they were collecting Dem de-registration cards, I was tempted to turn mine over and commit to going Green just because I was caught up in the fanfare. This was the kind of “fuck the Establishment” rhetoric I was looking for. And I do think the #NeverHillary #DemExit movement is really important right now because the party needs to be held accountable. The DNC email leak proved it wasn’t just a conspiracy theory that Bernie was being shut out, it was a peak behind the curtain that forever altered my view of American establishment politics.
But after processing the leak and coming off months of swearing I would never vote for Hillary come November, I decided on my way to Philly Tuesday night to follow my boy Bernie’s lead. My conspiratorial mind fully believes that Trump and the Clintons have a backdoor deal where Trump’s credit will be restored in the US under a Clinton administration, that the game has been rigged for her since day 1 and Trump only ever existed to scare people into voting HRC against their better judgment. Boy did that backfire. If we live in a true democracy where citizens’ votes actually matter why the fuck would the DNC run the weaker candidate against the scariest, most idiotic Republican who’s ever lived? Why take the risk unless the game is rigged so well she’s going to win even if no one votes for her? Anyways.
Tommie Sunshine and I have been talking about this for months since he became one of my ride or dies on #RaveForBernie, a partnership with EDM.com to galvanize millennial ravers to vote for Berno. In a video we did in advance of the California primary back in May he said, “When it comes down to the Convention, the super delegates are going to vote for whoever can beat Trump because they want to win.” That made a lot of sense to me at the time and it still does, what happened at the Convention made absolutely no sense.
The Khan family whose son died in the Iraq war being pimped out for a candidate who admits now that voting for that war was a mistake made no sense to me. Having a whole presentation and moment of silence for police officers who’ve died in the line of duty when that number is at a record low while saying nothing about the victims of police brutality made no sense to me. Allowing protest signs inside the Wells Fargo Center on any topic except Israel and Palestine made no sense, both the signs I saw on the subject were ripped out of people’s hands, torn and half and their owners were escorted off the floor.
But the creepiest thing of all was when General John Allen was talking about how Hillary was going to defeat ISIS and Bernie supporters, readily identifiable by the neon green t-shirts they wore on the final day of the Convention, started chanting ‘No More War’ and were quickly met by an overpowering chant of USA USA USA! This happened at least 6 maybe even 10 times, and it made my skin crawl. Then Vox journalist Michael Iglesias, Vox being a major HRC mouthpiece this election, posted the below image labelled ‘instructions for counter-chanting’ and I’m inclined to believe its legit 1. because this is exactly what happened and 2. because the outlet he works for must have been roaring pissed.
As for how I got into the Convention, all I can say is it involves the Kennedys, a lucky Pierre and a 3rd party coke deal in a foreign country. I was invited about 20 minutes before I had to be there. So with no makeup and a dress patterned with assault weapons, I rolled up to the muthafucking DNC where I would spend the next 7 hours witnessing the depths of our country’s madness. Of course it wasn’t as crazy as the Republican convention, which deserves its own reality TV show, at least on the surface. But in some ways it was crazier because the Democrats purport to be the voice of reason.
It only took about an hour to realize the format of every speaker’s rhetoric on that last day of the Convention was identical and no one was actually saying anything besides Trump sucks, Hillary rules, yay democracy, minorities are cool too. Everyone in the room thinks Donald Trump sucks, why is that 90% of the content? And I get that measures have to be taken to prevent the Convention from descending into total chaos, but does it have to be so totalitarian? Crowd control mechanisms like orchestrated counter-chants (“USA USA USA!”) are so much creepier than, “Hey guys, if you disrupt the speakers again you’ll be asked to leave.” Same with censoring protest signage based on content, it breeds mistrust.
As I said, I decided on my way to Philly to listen to my boy Bernie and vote for HRC, but the Democrats have succeeded in making me feel awful about that decision. According to one Sanders delegate who spoke at the Black Men For Bernie rally on Thursday, that morning all of his delegates had a breakfast where a staff member from the DNC said if all the delegates pledged their loyalty to Hillary and announced it on social media the party would apologize to Bernie onstage at the Convention. Of course Bernie’s delegates said no and told the DNC rep that if they apologized to Bernie and his supporters that could go a long way as an olive branch extended to his constituents. Needless to say, no apology was made.
So look Hillary/Democratic party leaders – you can’t shit on 46% of the party, call us “ridiculous” petulant children and then expect us to fall in line. It’s never going to work and you will never convince me that if Trump gets elected its anyone’s fault but the Democrats for alienating their freshly galvanized constituents by trying to stamp out Bernie’s message. Of course fault won’t matter by then because we’ll all have to live with the consequences, but still. In the words of Bill Maher, Bernie has given the party and the country a new deal by changing the conversation to be about human interests instead of just politics. Will I vote for HRC? Probably. But I’ll do it with my eyes rolled back in my head and I’m sure as fuck not going to be able to muster up the 1/10000th of the support for her as I did for Bernie. I’ll leave it to the Internet to describe my feelings on the matter, both in meme-form and in the words of the great Laurie Penny.
“America is still, fundamentally, a nation of puritans. That’s why this convention feels, at every stage, like a cross between a rock concert and a church revival. America is soaked in the language and practice of religion and wants to believe in its own goodness — in right as well as might…Of course, like every story in the religious mode, American presidential politics is a fairytale.
It’s fairytale designed—like all fairytales—to tell lost, frightened children that darkness can be overcome if they are well-behaved and listen to their elders. It’s a fairytale not just because no nation has a monopoly on morality, but because nation states themselves have never been the vector of human goodness and never will be. America The Brave is a bedtime story, the kind you tell to scared kids who know full well that the monsters are real. But for a moment there, I still wanted Obama to tuck me in.
This is not practical politics. This is pure pageantry, pure mythmaking in a nation that has always survived by singing a song of itself. A nation of three hundred million souls and half a billion guns torn apart by violence and uncertainty, held together by pomp and circumstance and precious little else…Of course the Democrats are lying to you, and of course that hurts more than the brazen untruthiness of Trump and his trashcan-fire rhetoric. What did you expect? What’s happening is here is more than just lies. What speaker after party-faithful speaker is doing, as they take the stage with the rosy-cheeks of actors carved in wood and worked by levers, is telling stories. Functionally, it’s the same thing, but telling stories is a larger and stranger thing than lying, in the way that war is a larger and stranger thing than murder…
In the writer’s room of US politics, the scriptwriters have move beyond lies to the management of truth, the creation of a master story that can explain all the other stories, sweep them up, make us want to turn the page, knowing we can never truly choose our own adventure…what they are offering, in practical terms, is the vestige of democracy against the certainty of dictatorship. They are offering things not getting quite so much worse quite so fast. That’s a hard sell. Here’s how they’re going to spin it…What sort of person are you? Would you rather feel good, or do good? Can you swallow your pride, humble yourself and vote for the lesser evil?”
– American Horror Story