Bernie Sanders may be calling for unity within the Democratic Party, but that doesn’t mean that his supporters will oblige.
Yesterday, I spent the day live streaming the Bernie Sanders demonstrations outside of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It took mere moments around these activists to realize that these revolutionaries were not planning to roll over and support the Democratic nominee.
I interacted with hundreds of Bernie Sanders supporters throughout the day. Activists and delegates alike were adamant about one thing: their voices were being suppressed and they were tired of taking it lying down. Demonstrators felt betrayed and used by the Democratic Party. With the revelations from Wikileaks, it had pushed many over the edge. The speculation that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was conspiring against them now became fact to the supporters with the emails released.
Many on the streets of Philadelphia were truly angry at the DNC and Hillary Clinton. These were passionate people who whole-heartedly believe in the ideas of progressivism. And led by Hillary Clinton, their ideas and opinions have been thrown aside.
From my experience at both the Republican and Democratic convention protests, the protesters outside the DNC were more passionately opposed to Hillary Clinton than at the RNC. This was surprising to me, but the difference lie in why they dislike Clinton. Those protesting Clinton at the RNC were generally middle-aged white men, who cited her Secretary of State email scandal and Benghazi as reasons they dislike her. But at the DNC protests, you could find anti-Hillary Clinton protesters of all shapes and sizes with a slew of different reasons for opposing her.
One millennial I spoke with was the perfect example of the raw fervor these supporters were directing at Clinton (the NSFW clip begins at 7:51 in this live-stream). He cares about Bernie Sanders. Not Hillary Clinton, not the Democratic Party, only Bernie and the ideas he brings to the table. This gentleman was so eager to be involved in the political process that he helped his friends register to vote. He was vehemently anti-Hillary Clinton, shouting: “You will go down for this. I will live the rest of my life and I will bring you down… She is the f*****g worst thing that could happen to us!”
Many of the Bernie supporters demonstrating in Philadelphia were new members of the Democratic party. Bernie Sanders brought them into the party and they have allegiance to ideas and a candidate, not the party itself.
A Bernie Sanders delegate spoke at a rally held at City Hall. At the end of her speech (10:55 in this live-stream), she pleaded to the crowd, “We need you to vote blue, no matter who.” She was loudly booed and heckled off the stage to the chants of “Jill Not Hill.” After speaking to hundreds of activists on the street on Tuesday, I only spoke to one person who said they would be voting for Hillary Clinton in November. Interestingly, he told me that I was the only person on the street he had admitted that to.
So where do these disenfranchised voters go in November? Green Party and Libertarian Party activists were on the ground trying to sway Bernie supporters to their parties. But Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, seemed to be where most Bernie supporters were jumping. Stein appeared at the City Hall rally moments before the Bernie delegate was booed off the stage. Through out the day, “Bernie or bust” signs were altered with markers, crossing out “Bust” and writing in Jill. And one woman I spoke with, said she didn’t care if voting for Jill Stein caused Donald Trump to win the election. She was more terrified of a Hillary Clinton presidency than a Donald Trump presidency.
Although several Gary Johnson activists were also prominent at the demonstrations, he was not brought up when asked who the alternative is to Bernie. One woman I spoke with quickly dismissed the notion of voting for Johnson, saying that Libertarians are just Republicans.
We are 103 days out until the November elections, a lot can change in that period of time. But the Bernie Sanders supporters outside the DNC don’t seem like they will be jumping on board with Hillary Clinton anytime soon. Will Jill Stein see a large bump in the polls and be propelled onto the debate stage? Will some of those Bernie supporters join Gary Johnson’s camp and push him above 15% in public polling too? We will see how the mood shifts as the convention continues and we head to November.