On the last day of the Democratic National Convention, California’s Hillary Clinton campaign feels it accomplished its goal of unity within the party, even as some Bernie Sanders supporters remain unconvinced.
Judy Lund-Bell, a Clinton delegate from Fresno, said she believes the convention has convinced most of Sanders’ delegates to vote for Clinton in the November presidential election.
“But there’s a small percentage who we are just never going to convince, we can’t,” said Lund-Bell. Many members of California’s Sanders delegation are part of the “Bernie or Bust” movement and are refusing to vote for Clinton in the fall as she faces Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“As a grandmother I can say this,” said family attorney Lund-Bell, “they’re acting like petulant, spoiled children.”
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While she admires the Sanders campaign’s dedication to their cause, she also thinks they’ve drifted off message. “They’re making it about them and not about the message,” she said. “They’re actually damaging the message.” Lund-Bell believes the delegation’s frequent protesting on the floor makes people resent the Sanders campaign.
“Let them vent their frustration,” said Anthony Capozzi, another Clinton delegate from Fresno. “But when it comes to voting in this election, it’s important that you vote for Hillary; there’s no question.”
Capozzi, a trial attorney and veteran of the past two conventions, kept a cool head about the uprisings on the convention floor. “Some delegates have stepped over the line in pushing their agenda, but they have a right to voice their opinion,” he said. “They’re doing it and we’re handling it.”
One cause of dissonance is many Sanders supporters don’t align with the Democratic party. Sanders himself registered Democrat in order to campaign under the party, but he has otherwise been registered Independent most of his career. Many from his California delegation don’t identify as Democrat, instead identifying with Sanders himself.
Capozzi believes the Vermont senator’s presence in the convention has been a positive influence, increasing the voter pool. “I think it’s done nothing but help the Democratic Party,” he said. “He’s brought a lot of independents into the fold.”
But many Sanders delegates don’t trust Clinton or the Democratic National Committee. They cite her history in Congress and the recent public release by WikiLeaks of internal DNC emails, which suggested members of the committee expressed bias against Sanders when obligated to remain neutral.
An often-used argument to sway Sanders voters to vote Clinton suggests a vote against Clinton, or a non-vote, is actually one for Donald Trump. It’s an argument Sanders delegates are tired of hearing.
“I’ve heard them say that we’re ‘fear mongering’ when we say how horrible (Trump) is,” said Marsha Conant, Fresno’s third Clinton delegate. “They should be fearful, because he is horrible.”
“He’s our Mussolini, basically,” agreed Lund-Bell.
Clinton’s Fresno delegates have all said they would continue to engage Sanders delegates in conversation, as they have been throughout the convention, trying to reach those wary of a Clinton presidency. Yamina Roland, a “Bernie or Bust” delegate, said Clinton delegates haven’t tried to reach out to her at the convention. “I guess I’m too vocal,” she said. “I get dirty looks.”
However, Roland and Lund-Bell did meet for brunch in Fresno prior to the convention. “I just wanted to meet her,” said Lund-Bell. “We didn’t even talk about issues. I know that she’ll never vote for Hillary so why would I try to convince her?”
Lund-Bell still holds onto hope that even those adamantly against Clinton will wind up voting for her in the coming election.
“Even if you don’t like her,” she said, “you just can’t like Trump more.”
The Temple University School of Media and Communication has assembled a team of student reporters to cover the Democratic National Convention in their hometown. Harrison Brink is a graduating senior journalism major at Temple: firstname.lastname@example.org