'Bernie or Bust' Frustrates Delegates 07/29 06:22
As most Democrats rally around Hillary Clinton, the lingering "Bernie or
Bust" movement is stirring frustration at the party's convention among
delegates of color, who say they're upset at the refusal of the Vermont
senator's most fervent backers to fall in line.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- As most Democrats rally around Hillary Clinton, the
lingering "Bernie or Bust" movement is stirring frustration at the party's
convention among delegates of color, who say they're upset at the refusal of
the Vermont senator's most fervent backers to fall in line.
"I am so exhausted by it," said Danielle Adams, a black Clinton delegate
from North Carolina. "I think there are undercurrents of privilege that concern
Adams is among those who say the "Never Hillary" crowd, a group that is
largely younger and white, isn't considering the struggles black Americans
still face every day. And, they argue that that some in the party don't
understand how the nation's ethnic and racial minorities may be affected by a
Donald Trump presidency.
Rep. Cheryl Brown, a California delegate from San Bernardino who is black,
condemned what she called the "aggressive" behavior of some Sanders delegates,
saying they jumped on tables and shoved people at the state's hotel the night
that Sanders moved that the convention nominate Clinton by acclamation.
"I think here at the convention, it's been exacerbated by the way they are
treating people," she said. "I haven't had that happen with any of the
African-American Bernie supporters."
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, an African-American and close ally of
Clinton, was telling the story of his late father --- a share-cropper in South
Carolina --- on the convention's first day when Sanders supporters started
chanting "No TPP" and holding up signs opposing the trade pact.
"It was downright disrespectful," said Kweisi Mfume, a Clinton delegate and
former head of the NAACP, who called it a "a low point" of the four-day summer
meeting. "I think it does not necessarily help the relations that Bernie's
people may have with the larger African-American community."
To be sure, many black delegates at the convention said they don't view the
"Bernie or Bust" movement through a racial lens. Count Cummings among them. He
said that as a veteran of many civil rights protests, he understands the
passions that drove the mostly young delegates to shout over his speech.
"The optics were not pretty, but I couldn't be upset with them. Two or three
years ago, they would have been outside politics," he said, adding that more
than 100 people have since apologized for the outbursts. "I am so glad these
people are under our tent."
Others, meanwhile, are frustrated by Sanders backers who contend the
nomination was stolen from the Vermont senator. They say those delegates are
ignoring the fact Sanders lost the nomination to Clinton, in part, because he
didn't appeal strongly enough to African-American voters.
"They haven't considered the perspective of minorities," said Kenneth
Williams, a black Clinton delegate from Texas. "I don't think there was enough
there to bridge to that community."
Clinton undoubtedly has far more appeal than Sanders among black voters, a
critical voting bloc in Democratic primaries. The former secretary of state won
more than three out of four black votes in 25 primary states where exit polling
was conducted and, by the end of the primary season, she had swept the 15
states with the largest black populations.
"At the end of the day, (Sanders') coalition looked too much like a modern
day Woodstock, and not enough like the Obama coalition it takes to win the
primaries and the general," said Boyd Brown, a Democratic National Committeeman
from South Carolina who supported former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
Michelle Bryant, a radio talk host in Milwaukee who is attending the
convention, said she's heard similar concerns from some people who call in to
her show. She said Clinton has a decades-long history of fighting for racial
and economic justice that some Sanders supporters seem willing to dismiss ---
even as they promote Sanders' civil rights advocacy.
"You wouldn't have expected this stuff to kind of break out along racial
lines," Bryant said.
But those complaining about Sanders supporters and expressing fears of
Clinton losing to Trump are missing the point, said Natalie Vowell, a white
Sanders delegate from Missouri. Clinton, she said, just hasn't been a positive
for black Americans.
"There have been more young black men imprisoned, more brown bodies piling
up across the globe, and I'm not sure at this point that a warmonger like
Hillary Clinton is any better than a tyrant like Trump," said Vowell. She said
she's not yet sure if she will vote at all in November.
Ohio state Rep. Alicia Reece, president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus
and a Clinton delegate, said she heard some complaints when a few people booed
Michelle Obama when she mentioned Clinton's name Monday night. But she
predicted the party would ultimately come together.
"Both groups have strong feelings about what's going on," she said. "Even
non-African-Americans are afraid of Donald Trump, not just pro-Hillary people.
They know we've got to unite and stop Trump."