PHILADELPHIA — All the Democrats had to do was have an uneventful, competently run convention. That’s it. Just four days where nothing horrible and embarrassing happened, with no ridiculous organizational fuckups or humiliating own goals.
Then Putin personally hacked the DNC, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz refused to be fired, and in fact nearly tried to gavel in the convention this afternoon despite the fact that everyone hates her. And all the Bernie Bros from the internet took the bus here to yell. Meanwhile, it’s also 400 degrees out and the press is miserable because everything is too far away from the convention site and the media facilities are lousy. And half the reporters here are exhausted from last week. Every sign that things are not going well here will be seized upon.
Here’s the angle of most of the coverage you’re going to get out of this convention: Chaos, division, open revolt on the floor, protesters going wild outside, the party eating itself, etc. etc. And yeah, it’s a bit unsettled here at the Wells Fargo Center, where speakers mentioning Hillary Clinton have been booed by some noisy Sanders supporters, who are also engaged in some anti-TPP chants and general rowdiness.
Outside the arena (way, way, way outside the arena), the lefties and Occupy types and activists are out in force. It’s ridiculous and cowardly how few people protested in Cleveland, which was, I guess, harder to get to and more likely to be full of open-carrying white nationalists, but they’re here in Philly, and they make for good copy.
But it’s mainly just that Democrats, liberals, and leftists put on a better show of public dissension than conservatives. In Cleveland, the insurgents won. Who was going to protest, Marco Rubio supporters? Ted Cruz’s own Texas delegation wanted him to suck it up and endorse the nominee. Conservatives are defined by respect for authority and in-group loyalty. The general attitude was, rules are rules, the candidates signed a pledge, Trump won, and everyone needs to get with the program. Meanwhile, here in Philly, half the Texas delegation just stood up and chanted “this is what democracy looks like” for a while. Why not? What is a political convention for if not politics?
The problem is that the modern convention is supposed to be a coronation—it’s four days of free media, the chance to present your candidate in the best possible light on live television with almost total control of the context and agenda. A couple hundred rowdy lefties could end up having an outsize impact on the coverage, depending on how they come across on TV and how much the TV talkers decided to highlight their rowdiness.
The nights, at least, should be interesting. Tonight theme is “sops to the left,” with Sanders and Warren. But how will this crowd receive Bill Clinton? (I’ll boo Andrew Cuomo myself.) Will Tim Kaine enter to anti-TPP chants? If he does, is that better or worse than Donald Trump’s running mate just getting ignored entirely?
Maybe by Thursday everyone will have calmed down. Four more days of this fucking heat and no one will have the energy to boo anyone.