By William Fowler (Occupy.com)
July 27, 2016
Sarah Hoss was a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign in Oklahoma City and drove 20 hours across the country with her mom to attend the pro-Bernie protests in Philadelphia this week. It was after the Nevada Democratic Caucus when Hoss really started seeing that “the Democratic nomination was completely rigged,” she said.
If Sanders had been treated fairly, Hoss said it would be a different story at the DNC. As far as how she votes in November, this week will say a lot and she hopes the Democratic establishment will at least acknowledge the protesters – even if it’s just to say “we hear you.” Regardless, Hoss said there is no chance she will be voting for Clinton in the general election after her contradictory statements in the Democratic debates about supporting a $15 minimum wage. Living in a red state like Oklahoma, voting outside of the Republican Party is largely symbolic, regardless of the candidate. However, she said she will remain a member of the Democratic Party in order to support state and local level “Berniecrats” running for office.
Imanuel Mesiah is a community activist working on issues affecting the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. “I came out here for justice, and to see that democracy is not destroyed,” said Mesiah. In an act of protest, Mesiah tore up his Democratic Party membership form after Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned over the Wikileaks emails Sunday – confirming Sanders supporters’ accusations that the DNC was pulling strings in Clinton’s favor throughout the primaries. But while Mesiah may have already left the party, he said he doesn’t think Jill Stein has a chance as the Green Party candidate. Instead, he wants to infiltrate the Republican Party and advocate from within, pushing for clean energy. He might even vote for Trump, he said, as another symbolic protest.
Jennifer Rojas is a student in Dallas, Texas, but originally from Southern California. “I’m missing school and work – I’ve put everything on pause to be here,” said Rojas after speaking from the public microphone at one of the Sanders rallies outside the convention. “I’m here to protest against voter suppression and election fraud across this country,” she said. Prior to this election, Rojas had never been a Democrat, and had never voted until she was impassioned by the Independent senator from Vermont – and she plans to keep it that way. “I’m still voting for Bernie – Bernie or bust all the way.”
Tony Preciado is an artist based in Portland, Oregon who flew to Philadelphia in protest of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s nomination. “There is a substantial amount of credible evidence that this was a fraudulent election, and as Americans we cannot accept that,” said Preciado. In order to make it here, Preciado said he paid for his plane ticket out of pocket and must spend time away from his family. If Clinton is nominated, Preciado will be leaving the Democratic Party. He will be voting for Jill Stein if Sanders is not nominated.
Wesley Irwin also came all the way to Philadelphia from Oregon. Irwin is a pledged delegate to the convention, and he is also a candidate for the Oregon statehouse representing communities in the North Seattle area. “We haven’t seen a chance like this to create fundamental change since the Civil Rights Movement. Regardless of the outcome of this undemocratic nomination process, we must continue to fight,” said Irwin.
As a guest to the convention, Irwin said he is here to stop Donald Trump, and Clinton is not the candidate to make that happen. In the likely case that Sanders is not nominated, Irwin is prepared to “fight like hell” for Jill Stein. “Now is the time for a peaceful revolution. Lets help build a brand new Congress and take our country back.”
Nicole Lutkemuller is an ecologist, a geographic information systems analyst and a pledged delegate for Bernie Sanders from California. As a delegate to the convention, Lutkemuller hopes the rules committee will not be suspended so they can abolish super delegates, and that the platform committee will adopt stronger language on the TPP. “The Democratic Party does need to unify, but it needs to recognize that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate to beat Donald Trump,” said Lutkemuller. “He has the ability to pull people to his side, while Hillary is pushing people away.” Lutkemuller is remaining uncommitted about how she will vote in November until after the convention. There is a chance she will vote for Clinton, she said, but there is no chance she will vote for Trump.
Brie More is a model and a cannabis activist from Boston who came to Philadelphia for the “Jay-walk” for de-scheduling cannabis as a class 1 drug and ending what she called the racist war on drugs. More didn’t come to support or oppose any candidate for president, but to represent the medical patients, veterans and people suffering from chronic pain and other illnesses who are incapable of accessing medical cannabis as an alternative to addictive prescription medications. In terms of the presidential election, More said she is deciding between voting for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein – but never Clinton or Trump.
Steven Menendez is a portrait and fashion photographer from New York City who came to Philadelphia this week to show his support for Bernie Sanders’ platform. He joined the Democratic Party in 2007 to vote for President Obama, though he has no attachment to or willingness to stay with the party and he’s looking more into leaving it. “I’ve been attracted to the fire and passion of Bernie Sanders and that’s why I’m here,” said Menendez.
Jessica Creery is a PhD student in Chicago who came to Philadelphia to participate in nonviolent direct action tactics planned by Democracy Spring and occurring throughout the convention. Creery had never risked arrest in a nonviolent protest before and her record is clean otherwise. “Democracy Spring provided a very clear path for me to take action,” said Creery. Her belief that democracy is nonexistent in today’s political system was solidified after the New York Democratic primary, where hundreds of thousands of voters were purged from the voting rolls in Brooklyn.
Creery has always considered herself a Democrat, though after this election she said she is absolutely leaving the party. “Democrats and Republicans are the same when it comes to campaign finance,” said Creery. “When money is involved, there is going to be the same result no matter which side you’re on.” As far as voting for Clinton, Creery was even more unsatisfied. “If you have to let go of all your values to vote for someone, you’re not living in a democracy.”
Nancy Towler is an administrative assistant at a college near Schenectady, New York, who has come to Philadelphia in hopes that something good will come from the convention. “Realistically, I’m hoping for a full blown revolution – all the corruption has gone too far,” said Towler. In light of this election, Towler said she is absolutely leaving the Democratic Party after being a registered Democrat for 38 years. In terms of who she will vote for in November she is undecided. As for voting for Clinton: “Hell no.”