The first day of the Democratic National Convention got a little rowdy, with supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders openly booing and jeering some of the speakers at what is otherwise shaping up to be a coronation for the first female nominee of a major party.
Sanders supporters have visibly expressed their frustration following news over the weekend that leaked emails showed Democratic leaders may have actively sought to undermine his campaign.
The leak prompted Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair, to resign her post and pull out from speaking at the convention.
Some Sanders supporters could be seen at the convention with tape over their mouths and the word “Silenced” scrawled across the front.
Take Two returned to its daily discussions with Carolyn and Dallas Fowler, two California delegates who happen to be mother and daughter, to get a sense of how each side responded to the first day of the convention.
Dallas is team Sanders. Carolyn is in the Clinton camp. The following interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity.
Dallas, I saw you on TV quite a bit yesterday holding up a blue Bernie Sanders sign. So how is Day 1 of the convention as a Sanders delegate?
Many of the Sanders delegates are having a different experience here. Sen. Sanders met with all of the Bernie delegates at 12:30 yesterday, and everything was fine until he mentioned Sec. Clinton’s name and how we needed to support her, and then there was mass booing and jeering and crying. You know, people are really emotional about this. And then, of course, when we got to the convention floor, you had some of the same things happening there.
Dallas, how did you feel about any time Hillary Clinton’s name was brought up, there was booing?
I was kind of indifferent, because I support a First Amendment right. I mean, people have a right to free speech. They have a right to express themselves. We want to try to be as respectful as possible. I’ve talked to a number of individuals in our delegation about being respectful and understanding that everyone has paid their money to be here. Everyone has worked very hard to be here on the floor, and they deserve to hear what our speakers are talking about. So I think that tonight you may see something a little more different from the Sanders delegation in California.
Carolyn, from your perspective as a Hillary Clinton supporter, what did you think of how it looked, how it all came off last night?
I felt it was disrespectful, to be quite honest. The other states couldn’t hear the speakers, either. And while I respect that we all paid our money, I had a conversation with one of the Bernie delegates and said that, “Well, are you saying that your money is more valuable than mine?” And they just looked at me and they’re like, “Well, no, I’m not saying that.” So, my perspective though, I thought all in all went well. I thought Bernie did an exceptional job. Obviously there’s nothing but kudos for the first lady, Michelle Obama. It was very clear from the beginning of her remarks to the end — there were men actually crying after her remarks, and that was amazing to me, that that’s how she touched people.
Dallas, all in all, how do you think Day 1 went for you?
So I wanted to just add that many of the Sanders fans are very huge fans of Michelle Obama, and so there was a concerted effort to not boo her. Also, just with yesterday, I’ve been working in the party for a number of years, and so I know many of the delegates on both sides, and we’re friends, and we’re family, clearly, so I’m not going to burn bridges with them. We still have many things to accomplish together. So yes, you saw me smiling with a number of them, because we try to have a good time, and because we’re just honored to be here, just to be here and be on the floor. But yesterday, it was a tough day, because many of the delegates are having a different experience here. When we were coming through even to enter into the Wells Fargo Center, our bags were ransacked. Items that were not on the restricted list were taken from us, versus other, my mom coming in as a Hillary delegate, she had some of the same items in her bag, and they never even…
So you’re saying because you’re a Bernie Sanders supporter, they inspected you a lot more closely than your mom?
I was Bernie-buttoned down, so yes, they knew, they could tell who were the Sanders supporters, because we all had Bernie buttons, just like you had your Hillary Clinton button. Also, we get different looks. I mean, they’re just having a different experience. And when you send people here that were elected to come and make a vote, and the first thing they do is go to their breakfast, and they hear “President Clinton” already, you know, they’re already feeling disenfranchised. And then you add to these other nuances where the volunteers from the Sanders campaign that came from all over the country to volunteer were kicked out of the Wells Fargo Center.
Are you saying because they saw you as a Bernie Sanders supporter, they thought possibly a troublemaker is entering the building?
I believe so. I mean, even the items they took. Clinton people had the same items, and they weren’t taken from them. So I definitely think that we are having a different experience.
Carolyn, what do you think about what your daughter just said?
Well, I can only speak to when we went through. I’m surprised. I guess, I did have my Hillary pin on, but it was under my jacket, so they couldn’t tell whether I was Bernie or Hillary by anything that I had, because I just carried the regular tote bag. I do know, I did have a small umbrella, and one was taken from one of the Sanders people, but mine wasn’t, so I don’t know. You know there’s different people checking different bags.
Carolyn, considering what we’ve seen in the news about all the emails, can you understand why a Sanders supporter would feel a little bit more on edge?
Yes, I can understand that. I also though can understand that whether you’re on edge or not, yelling and screaming the entire session — I don’t know what that gets you other than to disrupt the other people. I know we sat with a group — I felt we were very respective and very tolerant of it most of the night, until it came to Michelle Obama. I know everybody’s having a different experience. I think a lot of it has to do with, this is the first time for a lot of people, I think, and some have admitted that, openly, they’re not Democrats. And they said it to us. And so you’re going to have a different experience, because we’re expecting that to be — there’s a certain amount of decorum we have, and we expect that to occur. It’s not that we don’t speak out if we don’t like things.
Dallas, based on what you’ve seen after only one day and night, do you think party unity is possible by the end of the week?
I honestly believe that there are many Hillary delegates that share the same values on two major issues that we are still championing for. And I believe that there is a possibility that most of us can come together on those things, and that would help unify the party. Now, of course, there are going to be some that unify and there are going to be some that go the other way. So I can’t guarantee those amounts, but I don’t think it’s all going to be settled by Thursday. It wasn’t settled by Thursday in 2008, so it won’t be all settled, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Sec. Clinton courts the rest of the Sanders supporters.