Democratic National Convention Day 1 Recap - July 25, 2016
The threat of a revolt by supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders overshadowed the opening day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. The fears were further stoked when Sen. Sanders himself was booed by his supporters during a small rally on Monday afternoon after he urged the crowd to throw their support behind the party nominee, Hillary Clinton, and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine. Even the resignation of Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz failed to placate the angry supporters.
A meeting between high level aides of Sen. Sanders and Secretary Clinton took place a few hours before the convention to plan and coordinate against any excessive disruptions on the convention floor. Sen. Sanders even took the unusual step of making a plea in email and text messages to his supporters to refrain from any form of protests.
“I ask you as a personal courtesy to me to not engage in any kind of protest on the floor. It’s of utmost importance you explain this to your delegations — Bernie,” – Bernie Sanders, text message to supporters.
The concerns proved justified when delegates aligned to Sen. Sanders booed Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake when she gaveled in the convention. The boos were repeated when Dr. Cynthia Hale mentioned Secretary Clinton during opening prayer, a scenario that was played out several times during the next few speeches. However, tensions slowly lessened as the evening progressed, and sounds of protests were mostly reduced to a whisper.
“We’ve seen it at an Indiana basketball game, where a group of white students started chanting “build that wall” to taunt players from a predominantly Hispanic high school. This is the behavior Donald Trump inspires in our youth.” – Linda Sanchez
boos were repeated when Dr. Cynthia Hale mentioned Secretary Clinton during opening prayer, a scenario that was played out several times during the next few speeches. However, tensions slowly lessened as the evening progressed, and sounds of protests were mostly reduced to a whisper.
That turned out to be a good thing, because by the second half of the evening, delegates in the Wells Fargo Center were treated to a series of brilliant speeches – including the sight of Minnesota Senator Al Franken almost dancing away from the podium. Sen. Franken also held his own against comedian Sarah Silverman as they were filling up airtime while waiting for legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon to take to the stage to perform his classic hit, Bridge Over Trouble Water.
Silverman, a self-professed supporter of Sen. Sanders, delivered an eloquent rationale on why she is fully behind Secretary Clinton. Her call for unity drew tremendous applause from audience. She also handed a stinging rebuke to hardcore supporters of Sen. Sanders.
“Can I just say, to the Bernie or Bust people, you’re being ridiculous?” – Sarah Silverman
Wheelchair-bound activist Anastasia Somoza proved to be a major hit at the convention. Ms. Somoza, who suffers from cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia, brought quite a number of people to tears during her speech and has immediately become an instant darling of the social media.
“I first met Hillary as First Lady on a visit to the White House. I was nine years old, and I listened to her and my mom discussed healthcare and early intervention for children with disabilities. Over the past 23 years, she has continued to serve as a friend and mentor, championing my inclusion and access to classrooms, higher education and the workforce.” - Anastasia Somoza
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and actress Eva Longoria each delivered powerful speeches that resonated strongly with the crowd. Sen. Booker’s speech drew deep from the country’s history – often not the pretty parts -, and will probably end up being the most quoted of the convention. Sen. Warren, who thanked Sen. Sanders for his contributions during her compelling speech, was nevertheless the target of a few hecklers. Ms. Longoria’s combative speech was personal, yet relatable to a vast number of Americans.
“I respect and value the ideals of rugged individualism and self-reliance. But rugged individualism didn’t defeat the British, it didn’t get us to the moon, build our nation’s highways, or map the human genome. We did that together. This is the high call of patriotism. Patriotism is love of country. But you can’t love your country without loving your countrymen and countrywomen.” – Cory Booker
“We've seen this ugliness before and we're not going to be Donald Trump's hate-filled America.” – Elizabeth Warren
“I’m from a small town in south Texas, and if you know your history, Texas used to be part of Mexico. Now, I’m ninth-generation American. My family never crossed the border – the border crossed us. So when Donald Trump calls us criminals, and rapists, he’s insulting American families. My father is not a criminal or rapist. In fact, he’s a United States’ veteran.” - Eva Longoria
First Lady Michelle Obama then took the whole convention to another level with an incredible speech that will be talked about for years to come. She weaved personal anecdotes with the current political climate of the country that proved to be at once emotional and effective.
“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.– Michelle Obama
If anyone thought Mrs. Obama’s speech would be the highlight of the night, they were mistaken. For Sen. Bernie Sanders demonstrated exactly what it means to be a soldier of the progressive cause. His selflessness and complete support of Secretary Clinton instantly elevated his status within the party and he will walk away from the convention as arguably the third most influential Democrat in the country. Which is saying something, because his influence has already resulted in the most progressive Democratic platform in history!
“I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care. I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children. Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight.” – Bernie Sanders
Democratic National Convention Day 1 - July 25, 2016