Inspired supporters of the maverick Socialist, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, are planning four days of demonstrations at this year’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Authorities in Philadelphia have approved four permits for Sanders’ supporters. One of these will feature an event lasting four days consisting of various all-day rallies in FDR Park, which is near the Wells Fargo Center – the main stage for the DNC event. According to the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia expects at least 30,000 at these rallies.
Three other events taking place during that time are expected to only one-tenth as large as those planned around Wells Fargo Center. These are being touted as being organized by independent supporters of the Sanders campaign to demand changes in the nomination process used by the Democratic Party. “The whole Bernie movement is an ideology. If Bernie wins the nomination, wins the presidency, that would be amazing. But even if Hillary does win the nomination, the movement has already started,” said rally organizer Steve Okan Layne to the Wall Street Journal.
Democrats are voicing concerns about the potential for violence, especially following the fracas at the Nevada Democratic convention over the May 14-15 weekend. Sanders’ supporters were apparently “feeling the Bern” when they squared off with Democratic Party officials and supporters of Hillary Clinton. They were irate after the state’s arcane delegate allocation procedures delivered fewer delegates to Sanders than to Clinton. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) tried to address the conventioneers but was shouted down by Sanders supporters who became even more upset when she said they were “bullies.” Colleague Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) later voiced concern that the coming Democratic convention could come to resemble the infamous Chicago convention of 1968 that featured feces-slinging radical Democrats who took on enraged Chicago cops. Cops were called in to restore order when the casino where the convention was held decided to shut down the event.
In Nevada, Sanders supporters were outraged. Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said that Democratic party leaders had “hijacked the process on the floor.” However, Politifact concluded that, “There’s no clear evidence the state party ‘hijacked’ the process or ignored ‘regular procedure.'”
Sanders has vowed to pursue his campaign to the convention, despite the fact that Clinton already leads in both pledged delegates and superdelegates.
The possibility of an independent run by Sanders is keeping Democrats up at night. Leftists and disaffected Democrats have the option of running to the Green Party, which will hold its convention just two weeks after the Democrats. Democrats shudder to recall that in 2000, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader stole votes from Democrat Al Gore and thus secured a narrow victory for Republican George W. Bush.
If Sanders succeeds in getting on enough ballots as a Green Party candidate, he could have a similar impact on this year’s general election. California, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin are among the 20 states where the Green nominee will get a spot on the ballot no matter what. Those seven states bring in 144 Electoral College votes that went to Democrats in 2012. If Sanders splits the Democrats of those seven states, he could thus push those states to the Republican Party. Also, if Sanders actually won those states, it would fall upon the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to decide the outcome.
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