By Matthew Kass
PHILADELPHIA-The Democratic National Convention got underway this afternoon, but not without some drama. Supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who had protested yesterday, made their way into the Wells Fargo Center, and into the seats of the lower level.
And they made their voices heard. During the early afternoon portion of the convention, chants of “Bernie” and “This is What Democracy Looks Like” echoed through the arena. There were also boos early in the proceedings, although they later quieted down.
Some of the people in the arena were also protesting the Trans Pacific Partnership, holding up signs opposing the legislation and chanting “no TPP” at several points during speeches.
In anticipation of resistance from Sanders supporters reluctant to vote for Clinton in the presidential election, many of the speakers this afternoon made it a point to call for public unity. The main message was that while Sanders and Clinton may have had their ideological differences in the primary, Trump was a far greater threat.
Gary Mannion, 27, and Jim Blatchford, 29, both of Lawrence, Mass. were eager to hear the speech of Senator Elizabeth Warren.
“We’re just looking forward to hearing her talk,” said Blatchford, “and hearing what she has to say about how we can come together now as a party.”
Mannion said although he and Blatchford voted for Sanders in the primary, party unity was extremely important to them.
“I also think that we need to make sure that everyone understands that if we don’t get together on this, don’t make sure that Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States, Donald Trump wins, and the Supreme Court is a republican Supreme Court for the next 30+ years.”
Stephen Dodd, 53, from Jefferson Township, N.J. also felt party unity was a key topic to focus on.
“It’s absolutely essential that it happens, and it starts tonight” said Dodd. “With what’s been going on, [which] has been a little over the top from day one, and unfortunately there are times when you see things that are happening that you didn’t prepare for.”
He was however, hopeful that the calls for unity would not fall on deaf ears.
“I think tonight’s gonna set the stage for the rest of the week and we’re going to come out of here a united front and with a great convention.”