Philadelphia — For lack of the right paperwork, the revolution ended.
Sure, Bernie Sanders insists that his insurgent movement will continue well past November. But his impassioned supporters among the Democratic convention delegates believed they had one last chance to make their voices heard: They would attempt to derail the nomination of Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton’s running mate.
Alas, they couldn’t get the right forms to collect the necessary signatures.
According to Norman Solomon, a Sanders delegate from California and head of the Bernie Delegates Network, all the group needed to put another name before the convention for consideration as the party’s vice presidential nominee was 300 delegate signatures, with no more than 50 from any one state, and a signature from the alternative candidate.
Solomon said in a press conference this morning that his group had been in contact with an unnamed figure — he would reveal only that the figure was not an elected official — willing to stand as a progressive alternative to Kaine. He had ample reason to believe that more than a handful of delegates would be glad to back the effort: Of the 318 Sanders delegates who responded to inquiries, 81 percent said they were willing to back a “progressive” alternative to Kaine, even without knowing who that alternative was.
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Donna Smith, the executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, said the Democratic National Committee stymied her group and the Bernie Delegates Network with seemingly endless bureaucratic red tape. Specifically, she alleged that the DNC mandated special forms for collecting the signatures and then stonewalled when the group asked how it might acquire those forms.
The effort was not sanctioned by Sanders, and in fact ran counter to his instructions to supporters. Yesterday afternoon, Sanders sent a text message to his supporters asking them not to be disruptive on the floor. Last night, it was obvious that a significant number of Sanders delegates had ignored that request, and this morning it became clear that some Sanders delegates had intentionally neglected to pass it along.
“I am one of two whips for the New Mexico Bernie delegation, and I was one of the first to receive that message,” said Teva Gabis Levine. “In my capacity as whip I chose to not pass that information along and allow them to protest and speak their minds as they saw fit.”
#share#The Bernie Delegates Network isn’t explicitly rebuking Sanders’ request, but they’re not echoing it, either.
“I thought it was totally his prerogative,” Solomon said. “It’s up to each delegate to weigh that in terms of their decision. . . . He’s making the best of the box he’s in. We’re also in a box, but we’re in a bigger box: We’re not candidates.”
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Solomon was not alone among Sanders delegates in giving the Vermont senator a pass for getting behind Clinton, even as they expressed outrage at national-party leaders. “There are a significant number of delegates who feel the Democratic party is broken, and it’s hard to disagree with them,” he said. “They certainly don’t listen to their base.”
Even if their efforts to disrupt Kaine’s nomination failed, Solomon and his cohort could still give the Virginia senator a belligerent reception on the convention floor. At Tuesday morning’s press conference, Solomon revealed that 55 percent of the Sanders delegates he surveyed said they were willing to participate in a non-violent protest during Kaine’s speech. 26 percent said they would not join such a protest, while 18 percent said they were unsure if they would.
#related#Solomon said he and his group were not currently organizing a protest to coincide with Kaine’s speech, but he couldn’t guarantee that one wouldn’t occur.
“I am not aware of any organized plans, but I am looking the other way and allowing people to speak their minds,” added Gabis Levine.
It was easy to get the sense that Solomon wouldn’t mind seeing Kaine’s national debut disrupted.
“In the last two decades the Democratic party’s conventions have been bereft of much ideological or political conflict,” he said. “There’s this tacit preference that politics shouldn’t be beanbag when you get to the national convention. There might be a context where that makes sense, but sometimes it doesn’t.”
— Jim Geraghty is the senior political correspondent for National Review.