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Politics & Government

Sanders supporters go from "Feeling the Bern" to feeling burned by the DNC

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steve carmody
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Michigan Radio
Feelin' Burned? Bernie Sanders supporters gather in Philadelphia for a last gasp effort to stop Hillary Clinton

The Democratic National Convention starts today.

There are some Michiganders in Philadelphia this week hoping to change the all-but-certain outcome.

A rag tag caravan of cars, vans and campers rolled into the Parvin State Park campground in southern New Jersey just after 10 o’clock Saturday night.

Almost immediately a group of Bernie Sanders supporters picked up guitars and started singing.

The campground in south Jersey is about as far from Philadelphia as these Sanders supporters are from voting for Hillary Clinton in November.

Michael Eads is from Madison Heights, Michigan.  He volunteered for the Sanders campaign in six states, and he’s not giving up yet.

“Naturally, we all really, really want Bernie to win,” says Eads. “Failing that, the reason we’re here is to let the Democratic Party know we noticed the shenanigans they’ve been pulling, as far as being unfair and impartial during the election.  They’re not very happy about that.”

Internal party emails leaked to the news media last week showed top Democratic officials wanted to undermine the Sanders campaign. 

Sunday, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz announced she would step down as Democratic National Committee chairwoman after the convention.

By Sunday afternoon, the peace and love at the campground changed to a very different emotion on the streets of Philadelphia.

“This is our revolution,” a Bernie Sanders supporter yelled into a megaphone, and then lead the crowd chanting, “Show me what democracy looks like.”

The anger on the part of Bernie Sanders’ most loyal supporters is a problem for Hillary Clinton, who’ll will need their votes in November.

But one woman’s problem is another woman’s opportunity.

Green Party Presidential Nominee Jill Stein is in Philly stumping for votes among disgruntled Sanders’ supporters.

“Why in the world would you continue this revolution, so-called, inside of a party that has worked so very hard in a very underhanded and vicious way to destroy this revolution?” Stein asked a few supporters in a one room dance studio which doubles as her south Philadelphia campaign office. “What makes you think there is any future for the revolution inside of that party?”

But one prominent Michigan political scientist doubts many Sanders’ supporters will bolt the Democratic Party for the Green or another third party in November.

Vincent Hutchins is a Research Professor in the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan.

“Historically, political scientists have found, with some notable exceptions, when there are these tough primary fights, at the end of the day, the supporters of the losing candidate come home.  That is to say, they support the nominee,” says Hutchins.

But Sanders’ supporter Michael Eads says the 2016 presidential election could be one of those exceptions.

“If all these people who’ve noticed the corruption in this primary go over and vote for Hillary Clinton once again, where does it end?  If we just allow this type of stuff, the party will just know they can manage the primary, elect who they like and we’ll just rollover and vote for them,” says Eads. “No, vote your conscience.”

Democrats may take steps this week to heal the divisions with Sanders supporters, but they shouldn’t expect the healing to be complete by the end of the week.  

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