From the WikiLeaks release of charged Democratic National Committee emails about Bernie Sanders, to the delayed resignation of Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and angry Sanders supporters booing Wasserman-Schultz at a delegates' breakfast this morning — it’s been a far more dramatic start to the DNC than anticipated.
After the emails showed possible bias against the Sanders campaign from DNC leadership, many are unsure whether Sanders supporters will ultimately fall in line behind Hillary Clinton. This has created a renewed sense of disunity at the beginning of a week many Democrats hoped would bring the party together.
This discord is present in the California delegation as well, with both longtime Clinton loyalists and “Bernie or Bust” delegates representing the state.
AirTalk spoke with two delegates from the Southland — one supporting Clinton and the other supporting Sanders — to gauge the environment as the convention begins tonight.
Jon Vein is a pledged delegate for Hillary Clinton, representing the 33rd Congressional District, which includes Santa Monica, Malibu, and Beverly Hills. Attending his fifth convention, he is also on the National Finance Committee for the Clinton campaign.
Vein acknowledged the contributions Sanders supporters made to the Democratic platform, and he remained hopeful that most Democrats would be able to come together when Hillary accepts the nomination Thursday night.
"We’re sitting in a point in time in our country where there are some pretty substantial divisions," Vein said. "I think that across all of the elections and conventions I’ve attended, this is certainly the most consequential, and I think that we’re working hard on bridging the gaps over some of those divisions."
Vein: The people who were never gonna vote for Hillary and never come together and never really look at the importance of this election to the nation -- certainly [the email leak] is fuel for the fire. But there was a fire burning before, and that fire was not going to be extinguished...At the end of the day, we on the HIllary side are reaching out across the aisle. I think if you take a look at the platform, Bernie did some tremendous things for this country and for the platform in terms of raising important issues. I know a lot of people say that and it's sort of a throwaway line, but there are substantive things that came out of his movement, and hopefully those things will persist.
Martha Medrano is a first-time delegate, representing Bernie Sanders for the 29th Congressional district, which includes much of the eastern San Fernando Valley.
She said it is not a given that Sanders supporters will ultimately back Clinton, and she spoke about her personal struggle in deciding who to vote for in November.
What do Sanders delegates do now?
Medrano: Bernie has said it from the beginning. It’s not about him, it’s about this movement. That's definitely what were taking from this whole experience. He might have endorsed [Clinton], but I think it sent a very clear message: ‘Look, I can endorse you and I can back you as the nominee, but that does not mean that the movement will. That does not mean that the political revolution will.’ And that’s really where we’re coming from. Being here, we’ve gotten a lot of condescending vibes. There’s a lot of, ‘You guys need to grow up and unite the party,’ It’s not acknowledging what we bring to the table. I’m a millennial. I’m here to change the party from the inside. I’m here to make sure our progressive values are represented. As of right now -- including the VP pick -- do not give us the acknowledgement that we need of the facts that we’re bringing up and the platform positions that are important to us and our constituents that we represent.
I really think that’s a media spin saying that ‘Oh, yeah, Bernie supporters are eventually going to fall in line.’ I think the Democratic Party is in for a rude awakening, and if they do not understand that there is no unity without reform...there’s a lot of people that are already jumping ship from the Democratic Party, not having anything to do with us delegates, because we’re still part of the party and are there to cast our vote for Bernie Sanders. But this Democratic exodus is a real thing. There are a lot of people who are making a stand and fighting this any way possible, and that’s one of them.
This is bigger than Bernie. We love Bernie to death and he started this political revolution, but this is not going to end here. There is a lot of dissatisfaction and there’s a lot of turbulence within the party, and for them to think that we’re just going to all be okay and push past this and look the other way like this didn’t happen - I think they’re in for a rude awakening.
Are you going to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in November?
Medrano: Right now I'm trying to get through the convention, and my vote goes to Bernie Sanders and we will cross that bridge when we get there. But I’ll tell you one thing -- I’m not voting for a candidate that’s pro-TPP, that’s pro-fracking, that does not understand the detrimental effects of Citizens United, that’s anti-abortion. I’m not pro any of that. So, if that’s the case, neither of those candidates will be having my vote.
Sanders will address the convention in prime-time tonight.
Lisa Garcia Bedolla, Chancellor’s Professor of education and political science at UC Berkeley
Stephen Farnsworth, Ph.D., professor of political science and international affairs at the University of Mary Washington, where he also is director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies; he tweets from @drsfarnsworth
Jon Vein, Pledged delegate for Hillary Clinton; Los Angeles business and civic leader; Vein is also on the National Finance Committee of the Clinton Campaign
Martha Medrano, Bernie Sanders delegate representing District 29, which includes Van Nuys, San Fernando, parts of Sun Valley and North Hollywood