July 27, 2016

Day One of the Convention

Some takes on Day One of the Convention from our delegates. Remember these posts reflect the views and perceptions of the delegates themselves.

Here's a post from Carmelan Polce -- a Clinton delegate from Singapore and head of Democrats Abroad's Issues Advocacy group -- about the speeches given AND an issue of importance to overseas Americans - FATCA Reform which was included in the Democratic Party Platform passed on Day One of the Convention.

In addition to the stunning speeches being delivered at the Convention on Day One– Cory Booker, First Lady Michelle Obama and President Bill Clinton (yes, we're going to have to get used to specifying which President Clinton we mean) were headliners,  -  we also passed the 2016 Democratic Party Platform.  It is a document in which the Clinton and Sanders campaigns came together to develop what is the most progressive platform in Democratic history - and it calls for FATCA reform.

After years of work on this issue by Democrats Abroad, the plank was introduced by our representative to the Platform Committee, Joe Smallhoover, at the July DNC Platform Committee meeting in Orlando, FL.  You can see a clip of Joe’s brief presentation introducing the plank HERE. I was really pleased that the FATCA plank received support from and was endorsed by representatives of both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns. In her Independence Day message Secretary Clinton reiterated her support for FATCA reform.  With her backing as President, and the support of other Democrats, we believe that meaningful reform of FATCA will be achieved – and that is good news for all of us. 

Let’s be clear.  As noted in Joe’s introduction, our position and the position of the Democratic Party, is that we believe in the main objective of FATCA; it is right to go after tax cheats and money launderers.  But it should not disrupt and overly burden the lives of millions of hard-working Americans around the world who just want to use the same financial services that Americans in the U.S. are able to enjoy.  That is why we support the Same Country Safe Harbor exception that would exempt from FATCA reporting financial accounts in the country in which you reside.

You may know the RNC’s Platform proposed a repeal of FATCA – even though over the five years Republicans have controlled Congress, they didn’t act to repeal FATCA. This is a vote-getting tactic without substance. I hope Democrats don't fall for it.  Democrats Abroad’s FATCA reform initiatives, on the other hand, have opened the eyes of many in Congress and elsewhere to the unique issues that face Americans overseas.

Here's a post from Ryan Turner - a Bernie Sanders delegate from Spain - about some of the events he attended on Day One of the Convention. With a focus on the Black Caucus meetings and passage of the Democratic Party Platform - and a message from DNC Vice Chair Donna Brazile about the emails from the DNC that were recently revealed:

Day one of the Democratic National Convention kicked off with various caucus and committee meetings on a hot, muggy Monday in the city of Brotherly Love after a long night of welcome parties across the city where democrats celebrated their arrival to the convention. 
I had the particular pleasure of starting my day at the Black Caucus Committee meeting where I had the pleasure of seeing various African American visionaries speak and give their input on the impact of these elections as well as the issues that affect African Americans.
The morning opened with some remarks by star Senator Cory Booker who talked about the importance of diversity. Benjamin Jealous, CEO of the NAACP then spoke to us, followed by a powerful message from the legendary Reverend Jesse Jackson. The star of the meeting was without a doubt, DNC vice Chair Donna Brazile, who used her time to openly and frankly apologize to ALL party members for the horrendous actions and behavior of the Democratic Party and their involvement in promoting Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders despite being sworn to neutrality. Her video can be seen here:
Actor Danny Glover and pollster Cornell Belcher also gave incredibly interesting remarks. 
One of the highlights of the day was a controversial meeting at 12:30 that Bernie gave to his pledged delegates in an attempt to show his support for Hillary which backfired and resulted in many of his own delegates booing him. 
The gavel to the convention floor was dropped by Baltimore mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Incredible speeches from Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Michelle Obama brought the crowd to cheers and tears, but the most polemic and energized moment was when Bernie Sanders took the stage to address the entire convention and show support for Hillary and was received with a mixed bag of boos, applause and cheers. Between the boos of the staunch Bernie-or-Bust supporters who wanted a vote to include strong language against the TPP in the party's platform, and the cheers from more moderate Bernie supporters who were happy with the platform, it became unclear how the crowd would react upon Bernie's' finale. 
Day 1 was a hard yet important step in moving towards unifying a very fractured party. After aome much needed rest, we all hope that day two will be more positive than day 1. Democrats Abroad's delegation has set and extremely good example of how both hillary and Bernie delegates to unite and fight for the same cause. We will continue forward.

Here's a post from Eric Lee - Democrats Abroad's representative on the Credentials Committee and a strong supporter of Bernie  Sanders - on the activities of Day One, including "the speech of a lifetime" by Senator Sanders:

Written on July 26

The first night of the Democratic National Convention began badly.  The first speaker was a woman minister and all went very well until she mentioned the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton.  And then the chanting began.  “Bernie! Bernie!”

Now, I understand some of that anger.  Hillary was not last night, and is still not this morning, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.  She will become the party’s candidate only after a roll call vote of delegates is taken.  Yes, she will win that vote.  But declaring the race over now is insulting to the nearly 2,000 delegates who are pledged to Bernie Sanders.  Speakers should have shown more respect to both candidates, and not ignored those delegates or the 13 million voters they represent.

But over the course of the evening, things began to change.  Every time Clinton’s name was mentioned, there was chanting.  Tim Kaine’s name also triggered this.  And when the platform came up — a platform which disgracefully does not call for blocking the anti-worker trade agreement known as TPP — there was booing and chanting, with hundreds of delegates waving anti-TPP and Bernie placards.  As they should have done.

By about 22:00, tiredness was starting to set in.  And the point had been made.  And then the Democratic party leadership finally showed it had some brains.  It scheduled a series of speakers to wrap up the evening — Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Senator Elizabeth Warren who wowed the crowd, including the Sanders delegates.

Obama was especially powerful.  Her message about what it feels like to raise two beautiful Black daughters in a house built by slaves — the White House — silenced everyone, and moved everyone.  I was not alone to wipe tears from my eyes as I heard her speak. Elizabeth Warren is an iconic figure for the American left.  She was not booed, not interrupted, and was treated like Obama with great respect.  Her support for Clinton was forceful and convincing.  The cold, intellectual case for backing Clinton had been made.

So it was a much calmer hall, and people much more focussed on stopping Donald Trump, by the time Bernie Sanders was introduced at nearly 23:00. And even though people were exhausted — for most, the day began with breakfast meetings at 07:00 — the crowd went absolutely wild, everyone on their feet, all chanting.  If there were Clinton supporters in the hall, you wouldn’t have known it.  Maybe they were chanting “Bernie! Bernie!” too.  It took Sanders several minutes to calm everyone down. And then he proceeded to talk about what has happened in the last year, where we stand now and what we must do next.

It was the speech of a lifetime.

It showed the greatness of this American politician because he is a man who is not only able to rally millions of people to social change, to feed off their anger and to be their voice.  He also knows when to say: we have come this far, but no further tonight.  This is where we stop, we pause, we think about what needs to be done next. And what needs to be done right now, over the next hundred or so days, is to work day and night to ensure that Donald J. Trump is not elected the next President of the United States.

A lesser politician would not have been able to do this.  To speak to a crowd which only an hour earlier roared with anger at the mention of Clinton’s name, and to tell them: we must vote for this person and we must campaign for her.

This is what leadership is all about.  This was the most extraordinary example of leadership we saw last night, and maybe all year.  This was a man telling a painful truth to his followers, talking straight, pulling no punches.

Not everyone will be convinced, of course.  There are “Bernie or Bust” supporters who will no doubt be out in the streets today.  But they are a small and dwindling minority.  Most of us listened carefully to what Bernie had to say, and are convinced.

As the Clinton campaign slogan goes, “He’s with her”.

And I’m with him.

 And another take on Day One from Reno Domenico - a Hillary Clinton delegate from Ukraine - with a special focus on First Lady Michelle Obama's speech to the Convention - and the recent news from Russia.

Day one of the DNC!

Tension in the room! Michelle Obama blows the lid off the convention floor!

Philadelphia heat in summer explains why the American Declaration of Independence is so brief! As hot as it was yesterday, no one would have been able to sit in an unconditioned room and write some long story. I’m sure independence Hall in 1776 was intolerable.  I can hear George Washington say, “Keep it short Thomas!” Nevertheless the first day of the DNC was exciting, tension-filled, and ultimately gripping.As the delegates, 5000 of them, filed into the Wells Fargo Center, sharp political conversations punctuated the sweltering Philadelphia summer.

It was clear that Bernie Sanders’ 1800 + delegates had no intention of going quietly Into the night.Since I was clearly recognizable as a Hillary delegate, it was very interesting to be confronted left, right, and center by very committed and serious people representing the Sanders political revolution. As I’ve said many times, I admire the Sanders movement, and appreciate what they brought to the Democratic party in terms of energy and enthusiasm. Additionally, they’ve made a great contribution to the most Progressive Democratic party platform ever. However, once the gavel came down, and as we well know that was an adventure in and of itself, the underlying political forces in the convention hall were in sharp display.

At the first mention of the fact that Hillary was going to be nominated by this convention, segments of the Bernie Sanders supporters reacted negatively with a classic Philadelphia chorus of boos!  In several instances, the enthusiasm of the Sanders supporters for their cause made it difficult for the speakers to continue to say what they had to say.

This was particularly disturbing when representatives of the African American community, a critical component of the Democratic Party, were addressing what are very serious issues of voter rights and voting opportunities. I think that this is an aspect of the political mood in the country, and particularly inside the Democratic Party, that the Sanders movement has failed to either address or simply understand. The erosion of voter rights, and the Civil Rights Act, are serious issues in the African American community. And, they are serious issues to me. I think the some Sanders people misunderstand that the party is not just made up of the 99% movement.

Consequently, there were sharp differences and discussions on all procedural matters including the committee report, credentials committee report, and in particular the platform. TPP remains a strong issue in side the convention, both with the Sanders supporters, and with the convention delegates in general. Fortunately, as the night moved on the tremendous and highly energetic, as well as formidable list of speakers, slowly moved the convention towards the Unity so vitally needed to defeat the dangerous and irresponsible Donald Trump and reactionary Mike Pence. For those watching on TV or on the Internet, I’m not sure how the enthusiasm inside the hall was communicated across the airwaves, but the convention was electric.

Cory Booker had the Convention off its feet for most of his 20 minute speech. Booker’s theme reminded me of the Euro Maidan Revolution [in Ukraine]. Booker ripped it up as he urged the convention, and America, to Rise Up! And indeed that is what we have to do. But this night, organized to placate, molify, and incorporate into the Democratic party campaign the important and critical Bernie Sanders movement – this night belonged to Michelle Obama. Michelle, rocked the house as she brought to life the the importance of electing Hillary Clinton president directly to bear on the lives of regular American families. Bringing particular attention to the concerns of mothers who have to face the future with young children.

If you haven’t watched or seen any of this convention, it is worth it to go on to the internet and find Michelle Obama’s speech, and take the 15 minutes to listen. It will wake you up! Joe Kennedy III and Elizabeth Warren also had tremendous impact inside the hall. Warren reiterated the irresponsible nature of Donald Trump’s business practices, and the danger he poses to whatever gains have been made in the economy during the Obama Administration. As well, any efforts to control irresponsible actions on Wall Street.

The closing act for the evening was an impassioned, purposeful, and electrifying speech by Bernie Sanders himself. Entering the convention hall to a five-minute standing ovation, Sanders exhorted and urged forward his 1800 delegates to join in the critical effort to defeat the dangerous and racist Donald Trump. In a speech punctuated by long and rapturous applause, Sanders made it clear that he intended to do everything he possibly could to make sure that Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States. You have to give Sanders his do. The 74 year old Vermont senator has had an extremely successful campaign, and has brought hope and enthusiasm to his millions of voters.

When the 5000 delegates streamed out of the Wells Fargo Center, we may not have left as a 100% unified political party at this point, but we are well on our way. The dangerous demagogic enemy [Donald Trump] is in our sights, and we are sharpening our aim. More to come, as the Democratic Party aligns its forces on the battlefield that election 2016 has become.