Roadtripping for Hillary 7/12/16: Dems Unite in New Hampshire
Guest post by violining247
Well, well! The long-awaited Bernie endorsement happened at last earlier today in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. What an event! As a Hillary supporter, it was really wonderful to see—Bernie has completely gotten back into my good graces, without question or reservation. I am so delighted to welcome him and his supporters aboard the unity train, and if he takes the fight to Donald Trump to the degree he vowed to in today’s speech, we Dems are going to be an unstoppable force in November. So, thank you, Bernie!
My day began quite early. While I had no VIP ticket for this event (can’t win ‘em all!), I figured it would still be best to get there 2.5 or so hours before doors opened at 9 to get a decent place from which to take pictures. So yes, after waking up at 5:30, which I have only ever done voluntarily on Christmas morning as a small child, I got in line for a political rally at 6:30 a.m. Perhaps the ultimate sign you might suffer from addiction to politics? Oh, and I was most certainly NOT the first person there.
I quickly befriended a few of the Hillary people in line around me, a few who had traveled up from Massachusetts and a journalist who writes for Japanese media. She actually asked me for an interview at one point, and for once in my life, I actually obliged, since it will be appearing in Japanese (I usually try to avoid the media since I like to keep a relatively low profile, especially online). She asked me how I ended up supporting Hillary, what I thought would happen at the event, and what would ultimately happen with Bernie’s supporters? So I told my story. Regarding the event, I figured it was probably an endorsement, but just how wholehearted it would be was my big question mark. And I have always held that the vast majority of Bernie’s supporters would get on board by November, some more quickly than others, but an endorsement from Bernie himself would really help things along, and that was where I hoped things were headed. All in all, not too stressful for a first-ever interview. If I ever figure out where it’s published (if it is), I will let you all know!
Besides my little cluster of Hillary supporters near the front, a good number of the die-hards in line at that point were Bernie-or-Busters (“BoBs”), and I was surrounded on both sides. I could feel my hackles and blood pressure rising as the conspiracy theories and talk of “Bernie or Bust!” and “Never Hillary!” went on (and on) in my immediate surroundings. It honestly felt like the worst of Twitter and the comments section on the internet come to life.Chants of “Bernie!” and “Hillary!” clashed, drowning out the poor soul who tried to start a “Unity!” chant. This dynamic continued as we entered the gym.
I have to admit, by the time I was seated in the bleachers, I felt extremely apprehensive in regards to how the event would go...some of you may have seen my comment in this morning’s HNV saying as much. The tension weighed viscerally in the air between the diehard supporters on both sides. The rival “Bernie!”/”Hillary!” chanting continued. One Hillary supporter sitting near me turned around and gave the grumbling BoBs behind her (and next to me) a piece of her mind. After everything that happened at the Nevada state convention and the tension that has built up over the past couple of months between the two rival factions, before things got underway, I genuinely feared that someone was going to start a riot.
Fortunately, on my other side in the bleachers (opposite the BoBs), I had a fellow HRC Super Volunteer. We have a mutual friend in Chicago (who actually had mentioned to me ahead of time that some fellow Super Volunteers would be there and I should keep an eye out for them), so we quickly started talking about our adventures on the campaign trail, the events we’ve gone to, and our thoughts on today’s event. Oh, and we are now Facebook friends:-) I swear, you meet the coolest people at these kinds of things.
Finally, we got our first warm-up speaker: Bill McKibben, Bernie supporter and environmental leader.
Followed by Jim Dean, leader of Democracy for America, also a Bernie supporter.
Both sang Bernie’s praises, complimenting him for everything he achieved during the primary and for the issues he championed. Even as a Hillary person, I was happy to hear from them, and I think they struck the right note for purposes of securing Bernie’s legacy.
Following McKibben and Dean were Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, our favorite Democratic women from the great state of New Hampshire, the former of whom is going to help us retake the Senate in the fall!
I have to say, I got really irritated with the BoBs, particularly during Gov. Hassan’s speech (as if I wasn’t irritated enough already). There were only a couple of pockets of them—by and large, the Bernie and Hillary people coexisted peacefully and politely in the crowd—but the BoBs were so loud and so rude and kept interrupting her and yelling over her (though it was kind of hilarious when some of the crowd tried to “shhh” them...). I don’t mean to be overly negative and I am certainly not trying to imply that all Bernie supporters were acting like this (like I said, most were fine), but the 30 or so BoBs in the crowd were very loud and very persistent. And keep in mind, at that point I still wasn’t convinced that someone wasn’t going to throw a shoe or something and start World War Three in the Portsmouth High School gymnasium.
Finally, the time arrived for Bernie and Hillary to take the stage. The crowd went wild as they entered, the two candidates shaking hands with a few of the people up front before taking the stage together for the first time since the April debate.
Bernie spoke first, and his endorsement exceeded my wildest expectations (see a full transcript here). I jumped up and cheered at the top of my lungs along with nearly everybody else in the gym (except, of course, the group of sad BoBs) when he said:
Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that. She will be the Democratic nominee for president and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.
Bernie on the campaign trail for Hillary? I love it already.
After Bernie spoke, most of the BoBs (perhaps predictably) walked out. Much like will be the case in November, their numbers were small, insignificant, and nobody missed them in the end. #byefelicia. And then Hillary, our nominee, took the floor!
Her speech was so gracious, highlighting her areas of commonality with Bernie and reaching out to his supporters. She highlighted the fights we need to take to the GOP...overturning Citizens United, ending mass incarceration, and restoring the Voting Rights Act, to name a few. Nobody booed (at least that I can recall) perhaps because most of those who would have had already left! Besides, what is there to boo? We have one of the most progressive platforms ever right now!
And finally, my favorite picture of the event, which I also used as the cover photo here. I was kvelling. Look at Team Blue coming together!
Overall, the event completely exceeded my expectations in every possible way. Bernie did a beautiful job landing the plane, and by the end of the rally, the energy in the room had shifted in a much more positive direction. Nobody threw a shoe and there were no real disturbances. Instead, by the end, we had a cheering crowd full of Hillary and Bernie supporters alike ready to unite, take the fight to the GOP, and win big in November. I am so happy that all of us Dems are now officially on the same side...onward we go!
Previous Installments of the Roadtripping for Hillary Series:
Roadtripping for Hillary is an independent initiative by violining247 to travel across the eastern swing states in an effort to elect Hillary and other downballot Democrats in November. To support this effort, please consider a donation through GoFundMe.