By David Chan
Special to the Northwest Asian Weekly
Editor’s note: The following represents the thoughts of a fire commissioner from Snohomish County, a one-time delegate for Bernie Sanders, and his experience at the DNC.
Super Bowl! Yes, going to a national convention of a major political party is like going to a Super Bowl.
You can watch the Super Bowl on TV, but it’s not the same as being in the stadium, feeling the excitement and electricity in the crowd. After one exhausting week, I completely agree with that.
The journey to Philadelphia
I took a red-eye from Seattle to Philadelphia on July 22. Bob Hasegawa, our State Senator from the 11th District was on the same flight. Another Bernie Sanders delegate I ran into was Mario Brown, a very active Democratic strategic consultant.
Like many of Sanders supporters, he was still holding out some hope for a Bernie nomination. However, he does not believe in “absolutism” like some Sanders supporters. “Absolutism” means rejecting any other ideas other than one’s own.
When we arrived on the morning of July 24, we saw welcome banners everywhere in downtown Philadelphia and there were police officers on almost every street corner. Washington delegates and guests were housed along with the Massachusetts delegates in the Sheraton Hotel in historic Old Town near the Delaware River.
Pre-convention activities and a meeting with Governor Inslee
The official function for delegates from both Washington and Massachusetts was the welcoming cruise on M/V Spirit of Philadelphia. It was a nice evening with all the dignitaries on board. I got an opportunity to speak with Gov. Jay Inslee. This was his third convention and he was excited to support Hillary Clinton and embrace Sanders’ proposals.
I asked Inslee if he expected any surprises out of this convention. Inslee said there were always some surprises, but he didn’t expect anything big. Inslee’s main focus was to meet up with other governors to discuss how they can bring more green jobs to their states. The environment and the economy were the two key issues that Inslee was focused on.
Bernie or bust
Many of Sanders supporters were definitely disappointed when he spoke on the first day of the convention, trying to unify the party. Sanders even got “boos” from his own supporters. I think the best comeback from Sanders was,“It’s easy to boo, but it is harder to look your kids in the face who would be living under a Donald Trump presidency.”
Paul Simon came out to sing, “Bridge over trouble water.” It was a moving moment and the whole stadium was in complete silence, listening to the song.
About 75 percent of Washington delegates were Sanders delegates. Bernie Sanders visited the Washington state delegate breakfast on the second day of the convention, and gave a speech about getting behind Clinton.
Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Caucus
These caucuses were held on both the second and fourth days of the convention. Both Bob Hasegawa and I attended, as well as 300 to 400 people. Special guests included Rep. Judy Chu and Rep. Mike Honda of California. The AAPI Caucus voiced its support of Clinton’s vision, the importance of the growing AAPI vote, and a more unified Democratic Party.
The daily routine of the whole week was to get up for the delegate breakfast at 7:30 a.m. That meeting lasted for more than two hours with several elected officials speaking on various subjects.
Afterwards, there were more caucuses and other meetings. At 4 p.m., all delegates had to report to the Wells Fargo Center. And that session usually lasted until almost midnight. After that, there were receptions or parties one could choose to attend. On average, I got only 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night. I really need a vacation after this convention.
David can be reached at email@example.com.