It's been 24 years since the Democratic National Convention had any real dissent on the floor. Instead, from Bill Clinton's reelection convention in 1996 until now, DNC's have been carefully choreographed coronations with little unpredictable expressing itself.
Few political professionals are around from 1992, when California Gov. Jerry Brown's delegates expressed their anger at being denied the opportunity to hear their candidate by chanting "Let Jerry Speak" throughout the first couple of days of the convention. A few of those old hands would have come in handy today as Bernie Sanders
delegates made their presence known. Saddened by the defeat of a man with whom they've become deeply connected, suddenly in the company of hundreds of other Sanders delegates who shared that pain, and angered by their perceived mistreatment by Debbie Wasserman Shultz's
DNC, they decided to pay Hillary Clinton
back by making the first several hours of the convention pretty chaotic.
It all started with the opening prayer when Dr. Cynthia Hale
of Atlanta mentioned Clinton's name. In response to cheers from Clinton loyalists, "Bernie" chants began. This made for an inelegant moment of prayer and began two hours of messiness.
Over time, Bernie delegates began to quieten a bit and, more importantly, the DNC speakers began to realize they needed to try to ignore the unrest to the best of their ability by talking over it for a television audience. Only Michelle Obama
— who gave a nearly perfect speech in both tone and content (more on that in the morning) — was given a pass by the audience. Even Sanders himself, in a speech that voiced the meaning of his campaign but also endorsed Clinton in a full-throated manner, was met by frustration by his supporters. So was comedienne and Bernie supporter Sarah Silverman,
who was the one speaker to talk back
to the crowd.
I must say, after having seen a well-orchestrated but fairly staid convention four years ago, tonight was much more dramatic theatre. The key question moving forward is whether Day 1, by providing an opportunity for Sanders supporters to vent their anger and grieve for their loss, will smooth the remainder of the week — or whether it will remain a bumpy ride for the duration of the DNC.