BY JON CRONIN
Amid what some may have seen as a divided audience at the Democratic National Convention state Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park), still “Feelin the Bern” felt optimistic, “We’re makin history every step of the way.”
“The climax was to see Senator Bernie Sanders making a spirited endorsement of Clinton,” said Sanders, the sole delegate for the Vermont senator from Southeast Queens.
Sanders said he was on the floor with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I was 20 feet away from the speakers,” he said.
“I saw history up close and personal,” but for him the highlight was watching Bernie Sanders.
“Earlier in the day Sen. Sanders came into a meeting with his supporters and was booed by them when he asked them to support Hillary Clinton,” said state Sen. Sanders. “There was a lot of work that had to go on during the day going into the evening.”
When Sen. Sanders spoke at the New York delegation, he illustrated, “the stark choices between [GOP nominiee] Trump and Clinton. He had to really lay out the difficulties and what the nation could be like if we did not go in a certain way,” said state Sen. Sanders.
He added that Schumer was “the epitome of Hillary. He was Hillary or bust.” While sitting next to de Blasio, state Sen. Sanders said he “spoke with discretion. They understood I was with Bernie,” adding, “I respect these people. They work long hours. They knew my position. I respect the will of the majority. The majority goes with Clinton. I have to uphold that will. The only way I could break that would be if something was illegal or immoral.”
On the floor he noted these were a range of emotions from a willingness to compromise to outright hostility. In the end, he said that Clinton will lose 15 to 20 percent of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters.
“The race has been that bitter,” said state Sen. Sanders. He believes that the DNC, “is supposed to be blind justice,” but after the email leak he realizes that Sen. Sanders was not just running against Clinton, he was running against the DNC.
“They kept their thumb on the scale of justice.”
“What [Bernie supporters] want is progress,” he noted. “You’ll see them go with [Green Party nominee] Jill Stein. She would be the major beneficiary.”
During the first day of the convention state Sen. Sanders said, “The Bernie delegates have been meeting and speaking amongst ourselves about the best way to proceed.”
After this, state Sen. Sanders said he and other Sanders supporters will commiserate, congratulate their candidate for “a historic win.”
“Then we will discuss the logistics of how we would bring this movement forward. A real talk about what that would look like.”
As to whether the former candidate would accept a position in a Clinton administration, “I doubt it. His view is so much larger than her view. It would be hard to restrict his view. His hope is larger than her hope. If he did, he would quickly outgrow it. It is best for both parties to continue on the outside.”
U.S. Rep Carolyn Maloney’s (D-Manhattan, Queens), experiences were a bit lighter. She said they had just left an event with U.S. Rep. Brendon Boyle (D-Philadelphia) where they had a big competition between the New York cheesecake and the Philly cheese steak. “We lost,” she said, but noted that the panelists were all from Philly.
She added that it was great to be in Philadelphia to see an adopted daughter from New York be on the ticket. Maloney added that New York has been the forefront of the advancement of women issues since it hosted the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848.
Maloney believed that Monday was “the unifying night.” She said at the beginning of the night there was booing during speeches, but as it went on, “You could feel momentum of unity building.”
“Sanders gave a gracious endorsement,” she said.
She said on Tuesday morning delegates met with President Bill Clinton and discussed the DNC platform which she noted that many of Sanders positions were included.
Maloney acknowledged that some Sanders supporters are disappointed, but said, “It’s time to come together” and stated, “Right now the polls have Trump ahead. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out, the next president will decide direction of the Supreme Court for decades.”
During their meeting with President Clinton, he stated that he believed America was already great and that the economy was good during his presidency and has gotten better during President Barack Obama’s tenure. She said that in 2008 the country was shedding 800,000 jobs a month and now created 14.8 million private sector jobs.
She said the unemployment rate was cut in half and is now 4.9 percent and Gross Domestic Product is growing 1.6 percent, which, she claims, is faster under Democrats.
In a release, Maloney stated that on Monday night, “We got a glimpse of the Democratic Party at its best. Diverse and dynamic, we saw a party that differed on many details, but remained bonded together by shared goals and common values. Speaker after speaker laid out the pathway to a more perfect union, one with real social justice and equal opportunity. They spoke of their hopes for an America where everyone who is willing to work hard, and play by the rules, can have the opportunity to follow their dreams and live their life free from fear. It is those common values that are bringing us together in Philadelphia.”
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) was also at the DNC, for her first time as a delegate. “It’s an amazing experience. Indescribable.” She added, “Clinton has done so much for our area. She is very qualified and very ready for the job.
She echoed other statements of the first night, saying, “In the beginning there were some boos.” She added that there was “certainly a feeling of togetherness,” after hearing U.S. Rep Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), First Lady Michelle Obama, and Sen. Sanders speak.
Crowley, an avid proponent of women’s issues, said “Michelle’s was the best.” She believes the First Lady’s speech connected to women and parents “about how much influence the next president will have over how children’s lives.”
“Booker did a great job too. He really rallied us.”
Crowley said she is excited to attend a meeting on Thursday that will focus specifically on women getting elected to office.
She said right now, “Everything is about making sure that we get Hillary elected. She’s our leader and she is going to become the next president.”
Crowley noted, “[Clinton is] breaking all preconceived notions that some stereotypical people have for women, that they are not ready to lead. She is more capable and more suited for the job. That in itself doesn’t need to be watered down in any way.
She added, “People are coming to the DNC not only supporting this incredible leader but supporting the gender.”
Reach Editor Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org, @JonathanSCronin.