The 2016 Democratic National Convention was held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from July 25 through July 28, 2016, Monday through Thursday. They choose Hillary Rodham Clinton as their presidential candidate. Bernie Sanders had a large following but Clinton gained more primary and caucus delegates. She had 59.6% of the votes to 39.16% for Sanders. He did have a strong influence, however, in writing the party platform. Hillary Clinton was the first woman to be nominated by a major political party. She choose Tim Kaine, the Junior Senator from Virginia, as her Vice Presidential candidate.
While Clinton’s position moved the party platform to the left of where it had been in 2012, Sanders influence pushed it further left making it the most progressive in Democratic history. It contains specific planks, among others, on Wall Street reform, stronger financial regulations for banks, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and strict background checks on the purchase of guns. In the social area there is criminal justice reform, an end to private prisons, expansion of social security, and the abolition of the death penalty.
The last state to give its roll call vote for the Democratic candidate was Vermont, which gave 4 votes for Hillary Clinton and 22 for Bernie Sanders. By then Clinton had far exceeded the number of votes needed to become the Democratic candidate. At this point Bernie Sanders rose and moved that the Convention vote by voice vote to acclaim Hillary Clinton as their candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election. The motion was seconded and the Convention did so.
The Convention was not without controversy. Either officially or unofficially Russian hackers released damaging emails that demonstrated, among other things, partiality for Hillary Clinton on the part of the National Democratic Committee. They were supposed to maintain a neutral position. Apparently Russia was taking a hand in the election in favor of Trump. As a result of these emails the chairperson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned her position as chairperson of the NDC.
Another factor was that many Bernie Sanders people protested Clinton’s appointment as presidential candidate. A poll determined that 80 plus percent of them would vote for Hillary Clinton but many of those that wouldn’t were very loud about their feelings.
Beyond the disparities the Democratic Convention was very positive. It was a celebration of both America and Hillary Clinton. “We’re going to empower all Americans to live better lives,” she said. “My primary mission as President will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages right here in the United States from my first day in office to my last, especially in places that for too long have been left out, left behind.”
There was a strong argument for gun control in the form of strict background checks from a mother from Orlando, Florida whose son was shot. Another appeal from a daughter whose mother was murdered in Newtown, Connecticut. Former House Representative Gabby Gifford, who was shot in the head by a crazed man, appealed for this type of change. Others stated that five police officers were shot and killed in Dallas in July. They all made excellent points. This position is supported even by the majority of members the National Rifle Association.
General John Allen, joined by dozens of veterans made a dramatic presentation for Hillary Clinton as the new Commander and Chief of the military.
In fact we even had the beginnings of a movement of Republicans for Hillary which grows as we get closer and closer to Election Day.
Hillary Clinton has gone up well above Trump in the polls since the Conventions. One of the reasons for this is that the Democratic Convention brought a level of unity among the Democrats. This did not happen during the Republican Convention.
Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and former mayor of New York City, who was a Republican and is now an Independent, gave a speech offering a scathingly indictment of Donald Trump as a “dangerous demigod” and “reckless” choice for president.
Blomberg stated that he had been both a Democrat and a Republican and was now an Independent. He cast Trump as a failed businessman and risk to the country. “Through his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders and contractors who feel cheated and his frustrated customers who feel ripped off.” He commented: “Trump says he wants to run the nation like he runs his businesses. God help us.”
He took Trump to task for blasting trade deals while using overseas manufacturing to produce products bearing his name. He accused Trump of gaming the U.S., the Visa system, and using illegal immigrants while vowing to deport them if elected president. “Truth be told the richest thing is his hypocrisy,” he said.
Another speaker, who came right after Michelle Obama, was Elizabeth Warren. She stated, among other things, that “Corporations are not people.” She hammered Trump saying “Trump’s entire campaign is one more late night infomercial.” “Other than about building a stupid wall … did you have any ideas?” “Trump is a man who cares only for himself, every minute of the day.” “What kind of man cheats students, cheats investors, cheats workers? I’ll tell you what kind of man, a man who will never be president of the United States.”
She also stated that Republican lawmakers – namely the ones who have obstructed Democrats in Congress, Warren stated, “The American people are coming for you.”
The list of speakers was very impressive. On the first night Michelle Obama spoke very effectively, followed by Senator Elizabeth Warren; Senator Cory Booker preceded the First Lady. The final speaker of the night was Senator Bernie Sanders who strongly supported Hillary Clinton.
On the first night the theme was “United Together.” For the second night it was “A Lifetime of Fighting for Children and Families.” Former President Jimmy Carter gave a video address. Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the House Democrats spoke; so did Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood. Both former Attorney General Eric Holder and Senator Barbara Boxer made presentations.
The Keynote speaker for that night was former President Bill Clinton. He related his wife’s biography to an enthusiastic audience both in the Convention and on TV. She has had decades of work for children, women, and the needy. He talked of her persistence in solving problems placed before her, of her role as a mother to their daughter, Chelsea, of her as a mother figure to the nation. “She’ll never give up on you,” he stated.
Toward the end of his presentation Bill Clinton spoke of two Hilarys, the one he was talking about and the one the Republicans seemed always to speak about. The Republican one, he said, was not real, she had been created or disparaged by the Republicans over the years.
Since 1993, when Bill Clinton became President and put Hillary in charge of a task force to come up with a Universal Health Care Plan the Republicans began a hate Hillary campaign both against her and the mission she was undertaking, Universal Health Care for all Americans. This hate Hillary campaign has persisted up to the present day, 23 years. They have never given her credit for anything but early on dubbed her “Lady Macbeth from Little Rock.”
Vice President Joe Biden gave an impassioned speech in which he urged voters to turn their backs upon Trump. “This is a complicated and uncertain world we live in. The threats are too great and the times to uncertain to elect Donald Trump as President.” And then later, “No nominee in the history of this nation has known less or been less prepared to deal with National Security … who has no plan to keep us safe… Donald Trump is a man who seeks to sow division in America for his own gain … a man who confuses bluster with strength.” Later “He has no clue about what makes America great. In fact, he doesn’t have a clue, period.”
The Reverend Jesse Jackson and Jill Biden spoke. Former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg denounced Trump as a business failure and cheat.
On the third night the theme was “Work Together. On that night United States Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia accepted the Vice Presidential nomination. He began by sharing his life story with the American people. Then he stated that a number of Americans did not find Hillary Clinton trustworthy. He then cited her record of advocating for families and children, her foreign policy achievements, her fight in Congress to secure funding for New York City after the 9/11/01 attack on the Twin Towers, and her foreign policy achievements as Secretary of State. “With Hillary, it’s not just words, it’s accomplishments.”
Then he plowed into Donald Trump. “You know who I don’t trust. It’s Donald Trump. The guy promises a lot. He has a habit of saying the same two words right after he makes his biggest promises. ‘Believe me.’ His creditors, his contractors, his laid-off employees, his ripped off students did just that, and they all got hurt. Folks, you cannot believe one word that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.”
The final speaker on the third day was President Barack Obama. He strongly supported Hillary Clinton as a candidate who was fully prepared to take on the presidency, particularly against the pessimism of Donald Trump. “America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend upon Donald Trump.”
He touted Hillary Clinton as being better prepared for the presidency than he and her husband Bill Clinton had been. In addition he said, “No matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never quits.” In a manner of speaking Barack Obama was passing the baton on to a candidate who would carry on the Democratic tradition, both his and hers.
The theme for the fourth night was “Stronger Together.” Both U.S Representative Tammy Duckworth, a Purple Heart veteran in Afghanistan, and Nancy Pelosi, the minority Speaker of the House of Representatives, spoke.
Outside of Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech the most dramatic speaker was the Muslim, Khizi Khan, who had his wife silently seated by his side. The Khans had lost their son, Humayun S. M. Khan, an army captain, who, in 2004, had been killed in Iraq while saving the lives of both his men and a group of civilians. He was killed by a car bomb while inspecting a guard post. He spotted a taxi speeding toward the military compound. Khan yelled for people to hit the ground as he ran toward the taxi. The driver detonated the bomb before it hit the post or a nearby mess hall, where a large number of soldiers were eating breakfast. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Khizi Khan denigrated Trump for his attitude and his ignorance. Mr. Khan accused Donald Trump of never having sacrificed anything. He stated that “Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son the best of America. If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been born in America.” At one point he held up a small booklet which was a copy of the United States Constitution and accused Trump of never having read the document. He then offered to lend Trump his copy. It was a verbal attack by a Muslim citizen of the U.S. against the man who would close the nation to all Muslim immigration.
Against Khan’s accusation of never having sacrificed anything Trump response was that he had sacrificed by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Equating profit making enterprise with sacrifice was a strange use of language or understanding.
The major speaker on Thursday, the fourth night, was Hillary Clinton, accepting the position as Democratic candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election. Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother who was the final speaker at the Democratic Convention.
Hillary formally accepted the nomination. She has been one of the best known women in the world since the early 90s. From 1993, when her husband became President of the United States, there has been a hate Hillary campaign by the Republicans. On the one hand she has in some respects, like her emails have been careless but on the other, she has probably worked harder than any other Secretary of State visiting and dealing with 113 countries while also sitting in the President’s Cabinet and being involved in the decision making process on major policy operations. She was involved in the decision to get Osama bin Laden, the originator of the destruction of the Twin Tower on 9/11/01. In fact she was involved in many of President Obama’s major decisions.
Hillary stated in her acceptance speech, “I get that some people just don’t know what to make of me. So let me tell you.” She then detailed the years she had spent in public service and her goals for a presidency. She depicted Trump as unstable and unqualified for the office.
She accepted the nomination “with humility, determination and boundless confidence in America’s promise.” In her nearly 60 minute address she said, “America is once again at a moment of reckoning. Powerful forces are threatening to pull her apart. Bonds of trust and respect are fraying. And just as with our founders there are no guarantees….We have to decide whether we’re going to work together, so we can all rise together.”
“We’re going to empower all Americans to live better lives,” Hillary Clinton said. “My primary mission as president will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages right here in the United States, from my first day in office to my last day, especially in places that for too long have been left out and left behind.”
She presented a “stark” choice for voters on National Security at this time of international turbulence. She ridiculed Trump’s statement that he alone can solve America’s problems. “Americans don’t say, ‘I alone can fix it.’ They say ‘we’ll fix it together.”
Of Trump she said, “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons.”
Bernie Sanders was praised by Clinton. “You’ve put economic and social justice issues front and center, where they belong. And to all of your supporters here or around the country, I want you to know I’ve heard you. Your cause is our cause.”
Clinton’s historic role in breaking the gender barrier, a persistent theme of her campaign, drew some of the greatest applause. “When there are no ceiling, the sky’s the limit. So let’s keep going until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves.”
After Hillary had spoken the last moment of the Convention occurred and many thousands of red, white, and blue balloons dropped from the ceiling signifying the end of the Convention. And America had its Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Of the two conventions the Republican one was thin with guests supporting it and dark with its outlook of America. One of the TV Duck Dynasty minor luminaries appeared wearing an American flag bandana wrapped around his hair giving a short patriotic presentation. Neither of the two living Republican former Presidents, George H.W. and his son George W. Bush appeared nor have commented publically about Donald Trump. With the exception of Mitch McConnell, the current Senate majority leader and Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who both gave very lukewarm approval of Trump, saying he was preferable to Hillary Clinton, very few Republican members of Congress appeared. It was a thin roster of so-called dignitaries. The high point seemed to be the Trump children lauding the greatness of their father and Trump at the end giving a Hitler type speech where only he could save a disintegrating United States.
In the Democratic Convention there were so many political and Hollywood celebrities supporting Hillary Clinton that the Convention organizers had trouble getting them all to function during prime time. There were the President and the First Lady, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Vice President Nominee Tim Kaine, Joe and Jill Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, to name a small number who appeared. From Hollywood: Lena Dunham, Elizabeth Banks, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Simon sang. It was a glorious meeting of people.