PHILADELPHIA––On a sweat-soaked opening day of the Democratic National Convention, with temperatures pushing into the high 90s and strong thunderstorms in the forecast, the relatively powerful mostly spent their days indoors in air-conditioning: a breakfast meeting at the Marriott; a Bernie Sanders speech at the convention center (the hottest ticket in town for connected supporters of the Vermont senator); maybe even an Uber ride across town to the Wells Fargo Center, where Hillary Clinton supporters untroubled by any desire to dispute her imminent nomination stood on the arena floor around noon, holding cell phones aloft as Boyz II Men rehearsed an evening performance (“not too soft and not too strong”).
The grassroots opposition to Hillary Clinton, though, spent the day in the heat. They woke up sweating at the New Jersey campgrounds where many are making their home base. They sweated in the sunshine outside City Hall, beneath the statue of pacifist William Penn, where scores protested for passing cars and pedestrians, and others—Cornel West among them—milled around an interior plaza making connections.
Nearly everyone was sweat-soaked and dehydrated as hundreds completed a 2.6 mile march from City Hall down Broad Street to Marconi Square, with activists in wheelchairs leading the way and an army of Bernie Sanders supporters following. At their destination was another gathering of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein supporters who’d spent their days listening to a series of impromptu speeches about a range of left-wing causes, but more than that, about the feeling among those gathered that Clinton did not deserve to be the Democratic Party’s nominee.
“I’m here for democracy,” said Susan, a 61-year-old accountant from Pittsburgh who was excited when President Obama was elected but enthralled when Bernie Sanders began his run. “Everything that Bernie said was what I'd been thinking all along,” she recalled. “I didn't think there was anyone else out there. I was just one old crazy lady.”