PHILADELPHIA — Sen. Bernie Sanders’ top surrogates at the Democratic convention Monday had a not-so-subtle plea for unity to diehard “Bernie-or-bust” delegates: Remember the party platform.
Throughout the first day of the Democratic National Convention, high-profile Sanders supporters touted the concessions Democratic Party leadership made to the senator’s supporters in reforming the party, the formal set of goals that were officially adopted by the party Monday.
Maine state Rep. Diane Russell touted the Democratic National Committee’s decision to consider removing superdelegates, Democratic Party officials whose votes play a small role in selecting presidential candidates.
Introducing Sanders at the convention on Monday, former Sanders surrogate Rep. Keith Ellison noted the ways the Sanders campaign influenced the official Democratic Party platform. He mentioned the adoption of provisions like support for a $15 federal minimum wage and heavy regulations on hydraulic fracturing, a process that environmentalists deride for its unwanted side-effects.
“Tonight, we are united around the most progressive platform in history,” Ellison said.
“That’s the platform that we can make the law of the land if we stand together, if we work together, and if we vote together on November 8,” he added.
But that didn’t seem to placate some Sanders delegates and grassroots supporters.
Many of the senator’s delegates in the hall were still incensed that the party platform refused to adopt official language opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multi-national trade deal supported by the Obama administration but opposed by many in both parties for its potential effects on American manufacturing and jobs.
When the Democratic rules committee took its vote early in the evening, many Sanders supporters booed the platform, voting “nay” when it was put up for a so-called “voice vote.”
Chris, an alternate delegate for Sanders, told Business Insider it was “a darned shame” that Democrats weren’t more vocally opposing TPP.
“They completely ignored it. We had signs: ‘No TPP.’ Elijah completely ignored it. And a lot of people felt slighted from it, and a lot of people felt hurt and afraid,” he said, referring to Rep. Elijah Cummings.
Sanders supporters were also not impressed by a slick video about the party platform that played on the Jumbotron, highlighting the leftward tilt of the platform.
Dean Vanderstone, a Sanders delegate from Michigan, told Business Insider that while he was pleased with some of the changes in the platform, he said the whole convention was “a farce.”
“It wasn’t as smooth and clean and kumbaya as you heard from the speakers,” Vanderstone said of the platform drafting committee, noting his discussions with Sanders supporters on the rules and drafting committees. “There was a lot of dissension.”
Still, while the Clinton campaign scrambled to placate delegates, moving Sanders into a primetime speaking slot, were more hopeful about party unity going forward.
“There’s a lot of great energy. Sen. Sanders has been fantastic about helping to unify the party. I’m confident that he’ll do it tonight. And I’m confident in November we’ll have an overwhelming Democratic turnout to defeat Donald Trump,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro told Business Insider, noting he was speaking in his personal capacity as a Clinton supporter.
He added: “Bernie provided a tremendous positive voice for change. And Hillary has embraced so much of the policy positions and the spirit of Bernie’s campaign. So the ground is set for us to more forward as a united democratic party.”
Sanders ended the night with a strong call for unity amid the day of relative chaos with that primetime speech, closing out the night with a forceful endorsement of Clinton.
Said Sanders: “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight.”
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