|Berkshire Reps: Unity Strong at Democratic Convention|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
03:30PM / Tuesday, July 26, 2016
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Reports over the news are of a divisive and split Democratic National Convention, with chants and boos targeting some speakers.
But on the vast floor of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, state Reps. Paul Mark, D-Peru, and Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, aren't hearing that.
Mark is attending the convention as a delegate for Bernie Sanders while Farley-Bouvier is serving as the Hillary Clinton campaign's Massachusetts whip. Both said the tone at the convention is one of unity backing Clinton and not filled with boos and negativity.
"I'm not hearing it and I'm not seeing it," Mark said, though adding he'd heard of heckling secondhand. "I'm not hearing negativity and discord at all."
A lot the perceived divisiveness at the delegation follows the apology and resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Hacked emails released just days before the convention prompted accusations that the supposedly neutral DNC had been plotting to sabotage Sanders' campaign for the nomination.
Mark said among Sanders supporters, there was some unhappiness regarding the emails but the resignation of the Florida congresswoman seemed to put people at ease. He said her departure showed the delegates that the party's leadership does take such accusations seriously and that justice was served.
"You don't want people to feel like they got cheated," Mark said, adding that Sanders himself has helped put the issue to bed in his prime-time speech Monday night urging unity and making the case to support Clinton. "It's time now to start moving on."
Farley-Bouvier heard about signs and protests outside, but inside the Wells Fargo Center, that's not the tone she's feeling. She said with the news leading into the convention there was apprehension among Democrats with how it all would play out on the floor.
"During the day today, people were wondering how it was going to play out here," Farley-Bouvier said.
Farley-Bouvier's role is to head communications between the national campaign and the Clinton delegates from Massachusetts. Monday was the busiest day for her, as she ensured delegates were in place for the close to a dozen votes being taken on the floor.
"I needed to be on the floor early to get things organized," she said. "I would say it was smooth but hectic."
One of those votes was a resolution in the party to reduce the number of superdelegates — one of the most divisive issues during the primary. By 2020, the Democratic Party has plans to revamp the way the delegates are chosen or elected. The use of superdelegates played a large role during the campaign because Clinton received the majority of those votes while Sanders ran a fairly close campaign for the delegates chosen through the primary.
"They agreed they would revise the number of superdelegates," Farley-Bouvier said.
The two campaigns agreed to create a 21-member "unity commission" to revise the nomination process including superdelegates. Delegates would abide by primary results while elected officials would be unpledged.
Sanders headlined the speaking portion of the convention — a speech carried on news networks across the country. Mark said Sanders make a strong case for support of Clinton and a progressive agenda. Sanders called the Democratic platform the "most progressive" the party has had. But, to lose it by not supporting Clinton would undo all of the work his campaign put in, according to Mark.
"He really stressed the idea that the progressive movement is not about one candidate for one office," Mark said.
Sanders was one of dozens of speakers, including the state's U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and first lady Michelle Obama. Farley-Bouvier said the stage was like a revolving door of speakers with one coming on as another one exits the stage. The discussion ranged from a number of social and political issues from representatives from labor to the LGBTQ community.
"The crowd is so diverse," Farley-Bouvier said.
Mark attended a labor council meeting during the day Monday and has been talking with Democrats from all over the country and what he is hearing has been somewhat flattering.
"It really makes you appreciate what we have here in Massachusetts. We truly are leaps and bounds ahead on so many issues," he said, adding that more often than not he is being asked questions from Democratic leaders from other states about various issues. "People here do really look up to us and a couple of other states as models."
When it comes to issues like earned sick time, Massachusetts has passed that on a ballot overwhelmingly while other states are fighting just to keep workers' rights in existence now, Mark said.
Massachusetts does have good representation. In the morning, the Massachusetts delegation held a breakfast and meeting with speakers such as Attorney General Maura Healey and U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, for whom there was a reception, was noted by both Farley-Bouvier and Mark for his remarks.
"It's a thrill to be here. There is a lot going on," Farley-Bouvier said.
Tonight: Elizabeth Banks, a Pittsfield native, is expected to speak along with several other Hollywood actresses.