Philadelphia—It would be a mistake to pay too much attention to DemExit—the #BernieorBust tendency’s threatened walkout from the Democratic Party. Yesterday I kept hearing how Nina Turner, the former Ohio state senator and a powerful Sanders surrogate, had been “ejected” from the convention. Yet there she was, back inside the Wells Fargo Center that same evening. It does seem that Turner, who has still not endorsed Hillary Clinton, was not allowed to second Sanders’s nomination on Tuesday. But giving a speaker who hasn’t endorsed the party’s nominee a national television audience is the kind of amateur move the Trump campaign made when it handed the podium in Cleveland to Ted Cruz. And no one has ever accused the Clintons of being amateurs.
The “dramatic walk-out” of Sanders delegates on Tuesday night amounted to, at most, 200 people, many of whom were not actually delegates. (I was in the hallway outside interviewing people from Labor for Bernie—none of whom walked out—and didn’t actually see the walkout. Most media accounts put the numbers in the “dozens.”) Which meant that at least 90 percent of Sanders delegates remained in their seats.
Yet despite last night’s love feast, it would be an even bigger, perhaps fatal, mistake to assume either that the Democrats are a unified party or that the wounds of a bruising primary campaign were magically healed by Sanders on Monday—or by the many speakers since, from the president on down, who have given Democrats permission to keep “feeling the Bern.” There are two groups in particular who remain outside the Clinton circle of love—and who, in the tight race this is going to become, the Democrats ignore at their peril.
The first is millennials. “The Democratic establishment just doesn’t understand where young people are at,” said Waleed Shahid, a young organizer with the Working Families Party. “They don’t understand that the status quo has failed.”
For an older generation, the leaked DNC e-mails just confirmed what we’d already known: The party establishment had its thumb on the scales for Clinton. Nothing to see here. Move right along. But the younger Sanders supporters I talked to were just as upset by the evidence they provided of a party selling itself to corporations and the wealthy—a dependence underlined by the corporate logos on view everywhere inside the arena.
“This feels more like the WWF [World Wrestling Federation] than a political event,” said Leslie Lee, a young writer and activist from Leesburg, Virginia, who also railed at the way the media framed the protestors as “these privileged white people with weird clothes.”