Democrats from across the United States convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this past week at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) to formally nominate former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the party’s candidate for president. The convention, however, did not come without controversy.
After suspected Russian hackers leaked emails from the DNC leadership, it was revealed that prominent Democrats colluded to target Mrs. Clinton’s rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Specifically, DNC officials suggested calling attention to his alleged atheist beliefs, which DNC leaders believed could have harmed his numbers in the Christian strongholds of Kentucky and West Virginia.
In the wake of the scandal, embattled DNC Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to step down from her position.
Mr. Sanders nonetheless endorsed Mrs. Clinton and urged his supporters to vote for her.
Aggrieved Sanders loyalists, however, were not satisfied, and many walked out of the DNC in protest. Other supporters of Mr. Sanders took to the streets to protest the DNC for its suppression of his campaign.
“It was done deliberately and pre-planned by Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I just can’t support that,” one protester, Arthur, said.
“I know Trump wants to build a two-thousand-mile wall along the border, which is insane, but I just can’t vote for Hillary.”
Another protester, Aaron, had traveled from Detroit, Michigan to demonstrate at the convention.
“I’m very upset mainly because most people’s civil liberties and civil rights have gone by the wayside so that more people could make political money to fund their big banks, which is not going to help the actual people of the country.”
Protesters were frustrated at their lack of options in the US election and having to be essentially forced to choose only one of two candidates due to the two-party system that the country employs.
“Sure, you might want to say ‘vote for the lesser of the two evils,’ but the lesser of the two evils is still evil,” Arthur said.
“I want to do my duties as an American citizen and vote, but I don’t see how I’m supposed to do that when I’m not given a good enough choice,” another protester, Abby, disclosed.
Protesters speaking to SaharaReporters urged voters to consider voting for a third party candidate instead of either Mrs. Clinton or her Republican rival, Donald Trump.
“I would choose a third party option, either [Libertarian Party candidate] Gary Johnson or [Green Party candidate] Jill Stein,” Arthur said.
Arthur explained that Mr. Johnson, at the time of reporting, was polling at 14 percent, and needs 15 percent to be included on the debate stage. The last time a third party candidate reached this threshold was in 1992, when Texas businessman Ross Perot, running as an independent, shared the stage with then-President George H.W. Bush and his opponent, Bill Clinton.
One protester who spoke to our correspondent was a member of Socialist Alternative, a party which had endorsed Mr. Sanders for president but has since thrown its support behind Jill Stein after the Vermont senator endorsed Hillary Clinton.
“[Socialist Alternative] believes there needs to be a third party that represents the 99 percent because the two main parties are both controlled by the billionaire class,” Ashley, a Boston, Massachusetts native, said.
“Socialist Alternative has endorsed Jill Stein for president. Even though she’s not a socialist, her platform is the closest thing to what we want, and we want a third party that represents the working class.”
Other demonstrators protested against Mrs. Clinton due to her support for wars in the Middle East, which she supported as both a senator and Secretary of State.
“The United States actually spends about 50 cents of every federal tax dollar that the public pays on the military. The Democrats are more prominent, as a party, to secure military contracts and promote war,” Keith McHenry, co-founder of the grassroots organization Food Not Bombs, told our correspondent.
“Hillary Clinton is probably more outrageous than any Democratic presidential candidate in awhile in her role as a State Department figure. A lot of the Middle East chaos that is going on now, she certainly had a role in.
“No matter what you think about [former Libyan head of state Muammar] Gaddafi, now you’ve got Daesh [Islamic State] trying to take control of the whole area. Thousands of lives are being wasted,” Mr. McHenry said.
“So many people out here who supported Bernie wanted to see a fair and free election, who wanted to see a change in direction in the United States so we’re not fighting global wars and perpetuating terrorism around the world.
“I think with Hillary we’re going to see a much more brutal future and a lot more ugly wars.”