It was disheartening to see the disarray at the Nevada Democratic convention, which was described as breaking into violence. By all accounts, it was Bernie Sanders partisans outraged at...well, whatever Bernie Sanders partisans are outraged at these days, mostly that they didn't get their way because everything is supposedly rigged. This isn't the case of all Sanders supporters, just the most vocal. But I can't say I'm deeply surprised because it tends to be the tenor of what I've read in online exchanges.
One of the occurrences was Senator Barbara Boxer getting shouted down as she spoke for Hillary Clinton, as Sanders supporters put their signs in front of cameras so that she couldn't be seen on the hall's big screens. They claimed that she was condescending to the Sanders people, which prompted the reaction, but the highly-respected Nevada news reporter John Ralston said that this was totally untrue, that the shouting and booing began even before Boxer began speaking.
Ralston also reported that the proceedings were handled fine and fairly, and that no one was prejudiced against. He noted, as well, that it's important to remember that Hillary Clinton had actually won the Nevada Caucus a month or so back, and won handily by 5 points, so whatever disappointments the Sanders people felt at not getting their way wasn't justified.
Worse though was that the phone number for the Nevada Democratic chair Roberta Lange was given out publicly, and she was inundated by vicious, virulent, obscene phone calls and death threats, with even threats against her children. Pretty reprehensible.
But almost more problematic has been Bernie Sanders' response. The next day his campaign issued a statement that basically condemned the violence, however it had a "but..." attached to it, that his side had been wronged in whatever way they felt they had been wronged. Usually, they didn't get their way, after having lost the caucus. And that they weren't treated with "fairness and respect." And so they got violent and made direct threats. The Sanders statement, a day late,struck me as a pretty weak reaction to some real issues that needed to be shut down, notably the violence and threats to the state chair and her family.
I don't doubt that there could have been some real issues that the Sanders side had reason to be bothered. I have no doubt that there are real such issues at all conventions and affect all sides, though perhaps more one side than another. But whether the issues reached the level being claimed -- especially given that Hillary Clinton actually won the state caucus and (as we always hear and know) elections have consequences -- seems less likely. And in the end, given various claims, I tend to side with John Ralston, who is one of my favorite thoughtful, fair-minded reporters.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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