The Storms in Philadelphia

dnc

photo by Robert MacCready

The Storms in Philadelphia

by

Okla Elliott

 

The first day of the DNC convention was plagued with storms. The literal storm that hit Philadelphia was serious, with flash floods in some streets and power outages in various neighborhoods around the city. The political storms, however, were mostly tempests in teapots. Mostly.

As everybody knows by now, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign her position as DNC chair on Monday and was taken off the speaking schedule at the convention due to leaked emails that proved collusion with the press on the DNC’s part to undermine the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, as well as offering coveted political positions to high-dollar donors. This was probably the only political storm of noteworthy size. But ultimately, since anyone with even the tiniest bit of intellectual honesty and observational abilities knew that the DNC was doing all it could ensure Clinton won the nomination and since we all know politics is corrupted by money every day, this wasn’t as big as some have made it out to be. My only hope is that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been sufficiently disgraced that Bernie-backed progressive Tim Canova will be able to win his primary race against her and end up in the US Congress, where we desperately need more true progressives (which DWS most certainly is not).

The true tempest in a teapot was the booing and heckling by some Bernie Sanders supporters when he spoke to them early in the day and during his primetime speech on the convention’s main stage, particularly when he strongly endorsed Clinton for president of the United States. These people represent a tiny fraction of the convention goers and their voices were only barely heard—though they do deserve to be heard, but at precisely the volume they were. And that low volume level should be compared to the three-minute ecstatic standing ovation, replete with dozens of delegates crying, Sanders received when he stepped out on stage. He was and remains the beloved leader of millions of progressives in this country, and I imagine he’ll continue to be such a leader for years to come—though he’ll have even more influence than he previously did, due to his various political organizations he has announced he plans to start and due to his (likely) increased power in the US Senate, to say nothing of his massive public stature that will allow him to continue to bend the national political discourse to the left.

By any objective measure, the speeches given on Monday night were rousing and galvanizing. My social media feeds were a blur of statements like “Cory Booker is killing it!” or “I love you, Michelle!” or “Bernie is my hero!” and so forth, and having talked a few dozen friends and colleagues, they report the same.

When I was at the RNC convention, I reported back to The Citizens’ Voice, a newspaper out of Wilkes-Barre, PA, that I predicted a bump in the polls for Trump and a slight improvement in his negatives. I likewise predicted the same for Clinton then, but after seeing the first night’s speeches and feeling the mood here in Philadelphia the day after, I predict an even larger bump for Clinton/Kaine than Trump/Pence enjoyed after last week.

About Okla Elliott

I am currently an assistant professor at Misericordia University in northeast Pennsylvania. I hold a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Illinois, an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University, and a legal studies certificate from Purdue University. My work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, The Hill, Huffington Post, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, and Subtropics, as well as being listed as a "notable essay" in Best American Essays 2015. My books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a coauthored novel), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation), and Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide (nonfiction).
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