PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — “I had hoped to see some more unity,” said Bernie Sanders delegate James Smart wistfully, looking up at the raucous California delegation, where the die-hard “Bernie or Bust” faction was making a last stand.
Throughout the first day of the Democratic National Convention, a determined group of Sanders supporters interrupted speeches — from the invocation, to the First Lady — to express their outrage at what, by now, had been exposed as a rigged process.
The Wikileaks emails, showing the Democratic National Committee colluding with the Hillary Clinton campaign, left no doubt that Bernie never had a fighting chance.
Outside, a rowdy protest of several hundred Sanders fans — and their communist fellow-travelers — chanted, “Hell no! DNC! We won’t vote for Hillary!”
Inside, Sanders delegates booed anyone who told them to support the presumptive nominee.
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) July 25, 2016
And yet, by the end of the evening, Sanders had thrown in the towel completely — live, on national television.
As he urged them to support Clinton for president, his most ardent fans booed loudly — something one Sanders delegate from Illinois swore would never happen. There are things, he said, you keep within the family.
The Democratic Party is an unhappy family.
But as Leo Tolstoy wrote: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
The Republicans were more disunited on stage than on the convention floor. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declined to endorse his rival; he refused to tell his own party, as Sanders did, that the other side was worse and so everyone had to pull together. Cruz would not even acknowledge Trump’s successful insurgency — the kind of “political revolution” that Sanders supporters only dream about.
The Democrats, on the other hand, are disunited on the floor, but will unite in the voting booth. Sanders appealed to their shared hatred of Republicans, and the idea that Donald Trump is a bigot who should never be allowed near the Oval Office. (Barack Obama attended a racist church for decades, where he was married and had his children baptized; but the left sees that as natural, somehow.)
Sanders fans do not trust Clinton. But most will follow Bernie into her camp.
There was plenty of grumbling, to be sure. Sanders fans in the California section shared articles predicting that Trump had a better chance of winning the presidency.
They defaced the Clinton signs they were given by the ushers, turning “STRONGER TOGETHER” into “STOP HER,” and “JUNTOS SE PUEDE” (together, we can) into “NO SE PUEDE” (it cannot).
Some of the Clinton fans complained, leading to heated verbal confrontations (“I’m about to kick some ass”), and at least one ejection.
But over time, the energy of the protest seemed to fade, ever so slightly, as the show grew ever bigger, the speeches more and more dramatic.
It is harder to interrupt Michelle Obama than Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), easier to heckle Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) than to jeer Bernie Sanders himself.
And even after they booed him, they kept listening. When he reminded them that a President Hillary Clinton would nominate liberals to the Supreme Court, they nodded. (“She’d better,” one said.)
Earlier in the evening, a Sanders delegate tried to convince me that while Bernie had endorsed Hillary Clinton, he had not yet conceded the race, as if there was any real difference. But reality began, finally, to set in.
“This is the end of the road,” one Sanders delegate said to another, glumly, as the Vermont senator wound to a close. Some clung to their resistance, and vowed to keep up the protests every day of the convention — but even they knew that it would merely be symbolic, now.
In fact, it had been symbolic since last October, when Sanders said: “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”
It was too late to start caring about them now. What was it all for? Who knows.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.