A Week of Principle, Passion and Fear—Bernie and Obama Say Goodbye, Hillary Takes the Stage
Politics doesn’t often move me to tears. Three times, as a delegate to the Democratic Convention, I have been moved to tears. The first was on the first night, when Bernie Sanders walked on stage to give his
prime time address. He was greeted by prolonged chants of “Bernie, Bernie,” and then “Thank You Ber-nie,” more prolonged even than the cheers for President Obama. It was like watching the closing act of an amazing show, and the love showering down—from everyone. Like many people there, I cried. It was almost like Lou Gehrig retiring. But better, because Bernie won’t fade away.
The second time was at the end of the roll call, which, at Bernie’s insistence, allowed every delegation to vote, even after CNN said that Hillary had passed the magic number. They skipped Vermont, let Washington and Wyoming vote, and then came back to Vermont. Vermont announced its lopsided vote for Bernie, and then gave the mike to him. “I wish to make a special motion,” he said, “to suspend the rules, and have this Convention declare that Hillary Clinton has been nominated by acclamation.” The crowd once again broke into chants of “Bernie, Bernie.” For 5 minutes it continued, turning into “Thank you Bernie.” He clearly started crying, and so did hundreds of us in the Convention Hall. It was supposed to be Hillary’s moment, but clearly the more passionate love affair was between Bernie and his delegates.
The third was at the end of Barack Obama’s speech, which we in the New York delegation had orchestra seats for. His manner and his presentation was so special. He connected with everyone, even the “Feel the Berners.” He was human, he spoke about history, about children, about Black lives mattering and cops mattering too, about troops who fought for the U.S., and teachers, and on and on. And, in the end, he used the end of the speech he gave when he became famous, as a State Senator, only 12 years ago, about believing in the “audacity of hope.” Again, I was moved to tears. I didn’t agree with everything he did as President, and he clearly had flaws. But there is something majestic about the man (and his wife Michelle) that we rarely see in political leaders, and rarely see in Presidents. And he was the first Black American to live in the house, which Michelle described as a “house that slaves built.” I will miss him, and America will miss him.
The Convention will end with a speech from Hillary, which will happen after I file this report. Some people may cry, and many will applaud and cheer, and many young girls in America, and lots of adult women, will be moved by the fact that a woman is one step away from becoming President of the United States. She is possibly the most amazing, determined, accomplished woman in America, and probably because she is a woman, qualities which people overlook in men, are not overlooked in her.
She is flawed though, and I hope to God, for the sake of our country, our children and our humanity, that she is not too flawed to lose to the Hitleresque Donald Trump. So on Day 4 of the Convention, I took off my Bernie buttons, and put on a Hillary for President button, for the first time in my 21 years as an elected official representing our community. For better, not for worse, I’m With Her! (Writing that actually brought a little tear to my eye.)
Arthur Z. Schwartz is Greenwich Village Male District Leader and was counsel to the Bernie Sanders Campaign in New York