Cheers and Jeers at Opening of DNC

Vermont Senator and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday, July 26, 2016. (Photo by Andrea Asuaje/BU News Service)
Written by Andrea Asuaje

By Andrea Asuaje
BU News Service

On the first night of the Democratic National Convention, the call for unity was answered with cheers from many and jeers from a passionate few.

The evening’s top speakers — New Jersey Senator Corey Booker, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vermont Senator and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders — all rallied behind presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, insisting that a unified America working toward common ground is stronger than the gloomy image presented by the GOP at last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The first lady’s remarks drew high praise from the assembled delegates as well as commenters on social media. (Full text of First Lady’s Speech)

But supporters of Sanders booed throughout the evening, most noticeably every time a speaker would endorse Hillary Clinton for president or Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate.

Speakers carried on, often over the hollers of protestors, to deliver the coming-together message that echoed through all the speeches, including those earlier in the evening, which focused on a variety of topics, including immigration reform, mental health and substance abuse.

Artists Demi Lovato and Paul Simon also entertained the delegation and its guests with performances of “Confident” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

For the main event, actress Eva Longoria introduced Booker, who spoke about America’s values and used a mantra of sorts — “we will rise,” inspired by a Maya Angelou poem — to push party unity.

“Patriotism is love of country. But you can’t love your country without loving your countrymen and countrywomen,” Booker said.

Warren then resumed her continuing take-down of Donald Trump, calling the Republican nominee’s campaign and platform a “late-night Trump informercial.”

“We are not going to be Donald Trump’s hate-filled America. Not now. Not ever,” Warren said.

The Wells Fargo Center was filled to the brim for the final two speeches: Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders.

Obama spoke about her family’s time in the White House, focusing on her daughters and how important it was for her and President Barack Obama to set a good example for their daughters and for children nationwide.

“Hillary understands that the president is about one thing and one thing only: It’s about leaving something better for our kids,” Obama said. “That’s how we’ve always moved this country forward, by all of us coming together on behalf of our children.”

She also took a few jabs at Trump, but not by name, briefly alluding to his campaign slogan — “Make America Great Again” — and the candidate’s affinity for using Twitter.

“When you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions,” Obama said. “You can’t have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.”

Sanders took the stage after Obama to a crowd that gave him a long standing ovation. The senator sheepishly quieted his supporters throughout his speech, which was similar to his standard stump speech focusing on universal health care, income inequality and praising the “political revolution” powered by his thousands of followers and volunteers. (Full text of Sanders Speech)

“Election days come and go,” Sanders said. “But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent … continues. And I look forward to being part of that struggle with you.”

Still, he said, he understands the unrest of his supporters. Earlier in the day, police briefly detained more than 50 angry protesters when they tried to storm barricades outside of the convention.

“I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process,” Sanders said. “I think it’s fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am.”

Sanders praised Clinton’s record on healthcare and issues of children’s and women’s rights, among his many compliments, to create a stark contrast between Clinton and Trump. And to the chagrin of his followers, Sanders stated he would do anything possible to get Clinton in the White House come November.

“Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States,” Sanders said. “The choice is not even close.”

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