Sunday was Bernie Sanders Day at the state Democratic Convention.
Bernie supporters packed the area outside the convention hall. Bernie signs were everywhere when he took the stage. And his speech was received with the sort of enthusiasm that we have become used to over the past three years.
Sanders thanked the crowd for helping turn what were dismissed as crazy left-wing concepts just a few short years ago into the mainstream of party discussion.
“Together we began a political revolution whose ideas and energy have not only transformed the Democratic Party but have transformed politics in America,” he said.
Then he launched into his pitch: That bold (not moderate) ideas are the only way to defeat Trump.
All of us are united in defeating Trump, but let me be frank with you and raise the issue that I think is on everyone’s mind, and that is: what is the best way to defeat Trump?
As you all know, there is a debate among presidential candidates who have spoken to you here in this room, and those who have chosen for whatever reason not to be in this room about the best way forward.
So let me be as clear as I can be: in my view, we will not defeat Donald Trump unless we bring excitement and energy into the campaign, and unless we give millions of working people and young people a reason to vote, and a reason to believe that politics is relevant to their lives.
The theme of the speech was “no middle ground:”
We have got to make it clear that when the future of the planet is at stake, there is no “middle ground.” We will take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy system.
We have got to make it clear that when this country drifts toward oligarchy, there is no “middle ground.” Large profitable corporations like Amazon will pay their fair share of taxes.
When it comes to health care, there is no “middle ground.” Health care is a human right, not a privilege and we will guarantee health care to all of our people through a Medicare for All single-payer system.
Sanders said all the things his fans have come to expect, and he made a strong case that a more moderate agenda won’t work this time around. It was vintage Sanders.
And yet: I still think Elizabeth Warren stole the show.
As Sup. Hillary Ronen posted on Facebook:
I will always love Bernie and will continue to support him too but Elizabeth is stealing my heart. Her speech today was off the hook. I wish I recorded it. Her approach — big structural change with a plan and with a fight — is exactly what this country needs.
I think a lot of people felt the same way. Today was Bernie’s Day, but it was Elizabeth’s convention.
There were boos in the hall. Two loud sets of boos.
The first was when former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said yesterday that “socialism is not the answer.” The second came this morning when Maryland Rep. John Delaney said that Medicare for all is not a feasible idea.
In fact, the boos got so loud that Chair Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker told people who were making noise to leave the hall. “If you want to scream, please leave,” she said.
That didn’t stop the boos.
Julian Castro was one of only two candidates (Kamala Harris was the other) who took advantage of the massive amount of news media on hand (300 credentialed reporters) and held a press conference after his speech.
Castro was also the only candidate who talked about police reform. In his speech, he read off the names of young people of color killed by police officers.
“That video we keep seeing of police violence is not an accident,” he said, calling for an end to “over-aggressive policing.”
He said he would push a federal law changing the rules for the use of deadly force, which “should be used only when a threat to life is imminent and all other alternatives have been exhausted.”
I asked Castro, the former HUD secretary, what he would do about restoring that agency’s mission of building housing in American cities. He acknowledged that even under his boss, President Obama, the agency didn’t get what it needed. “When Ronald Reagan took office,” he said, “HUD has 16,000 employees. When I arrived, there were 8,000.”
He offered the usual mainstream Democratic Party housing policies – expanding the low-income-housing tax credit, “working with the private sector” and spending some more money on subsidies.
Me: How many affordable housing units will you promise to build in the next four years? Castro: I will release a plan soon.
The resolution allowing undocumented immigrants to participate fully in the Democratic Party wasn’t on the floor this morning, but it’s still moving forward. It’s been referred to a subcommittee and will be taken up by the Rules Committee when the Party bylaws are discussed in August. “A big win for immigrants,” Sarah Souza, who authored the resolution, told me today.