Gun control, racial agitation, transgender transformation, and trashing Republican nominee Donald J. Trump – these were the main thrusts I expected to find at the Democratic Convention this week. The Democrats did not disappoint me in this regard, but they surprised me in other ways.
On my way to the convention, my Uber Driver anxiously tried to discuss politics with me, so much so that he drove the wrong way on an interstate highway because he became lost.
He was a Philadelphia native, born and raised in the inner city, and not normally interested in political matters. He defensively told me his best friends are white, and plaintively repeated over and over that he wanted to meet just one person who supported Donald Trump to find out why anyone would support a candidate who hates people and does not honor his business contracts. “What do they think Trump will do for America?”
He expressed how scary it is to be black man in America. As he told me, “A cop can wake up one day and decide he is no longer a cop. I can’t decide to no longer be a black man.”
I noted with a sense of irony, that as he was telling me things I had heard from the mouth of our first black president, he showed no fear of driving up to a parked Philadelphia police car after he had just driven the wrong way on an interstate near the entrance to the Navy Yard to ask the officer how to get to the Wells Fargo Arena, site of the Democratic Convention.
It crossed my mind that the last thing I would do after such a blatant traffic violation would be to feel secure drawing the attention of the officer who must have just observed what I did. The officer gave us exact directions, and we were back on our way, unmolested.
Having safely arrived at the convention, I noticed that the security was less invasive, less intimidating, and less effective than at the Republican Convention I attended last week. No long line of officers from around the country protecting those entering the security perimeter; my bags not opened; my computer and IPhone not taken out of their cases and turned on to make sure they were really operable electronic devices.
Once in the arena, I needed a restroom. I found the men’s room, and looked next to it for the women’s room. In the place of the women’s room sign was a sign for an “All Gender Restroom.”
The sign only displayed two pictographs, one of a man and one of a woman, however. I was disappointed they did not have pictographs for the 50 plus varieties of gender recognized by Facebook or for the 31 genders now recognized by Mayor DeBlasio’s New York City.
When I asked one of the DNC volunteers where to find the ladies’ room, she pointed at the All Gender bathroom. Even my four boys aren’t interested in using a restroom simultaneously with me so I decided I would save that novel life experience for another time.
I wandered around the arena until I found a women’s restroom and was surprised to find a bra stuffed into the sanitary product container in my stall. I imagined that someone had an epiphany in that very bathroom and decided to forego the strains of womanhood and start identifying as male.
Moving around the arena, I found the Facebook pop up booth. I had spent time at their booth at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, trying out Facebook Live for the first time with a national security expert.
One of the Facebook assistants I met in Cleveland also staffed Facebook’s workspace in Philadelphia. I asked him what the differences were between the two conventions. He remarked that the main difference is the energy of the Democratic insurgency. In Cleveland, no one was wearing a Cruz or a Kasich shirt. Here in Philadelphia, there are so many people wearing Bernie shirts and buttons and carrying Bernie signs.
Leaving the Facebook area, I spotted Libertarian vice presidential nominee Gov. William Weld who proudly told me: “I feel like we libertarians have a six-lane highway right up the middle between the two parties, because we’re fiscally conservative and socially liberal and inclusive.”
I pushed back on this, “But after the Republican Convention last week with Peter Thiel coming out and saying he was a proud gay Republican American, do you feel like maybe the Republican Party with Trump has tended more towards your position on the social issues?”
“Oh, come on. That platform is the most anti-gay/lesbian thing I ever saw. Matter of fact, they moved it to the right at the convention. So that’s just a throwaway line by one person,” he responded animatedly.
“No, I don’t consider the Republican Party open and welcoming to gays and lesbians at all. Nor do I consider them open to the pro-choice position on abortion. They have not been since the early or mid-90s and when I became a member of the libertarian ticket, I almost felt like ‘free, free at last,’ I don’t have to carry that baggage around anymore.”
Gov. Weld remarked that he appointed Margaret Marshall to the Massachusetts bench, and reminded me that she was the judge who ruled in favor of gay marriage as constitutionally required, and the U.S. Supreme Court adopted her reasoning last summer.
When pressed on combating terrorism, he responded “I do have a long background in law enforcement. I think I could make a contribution in marshaling resources to fight the lone wolves who are the copycat killers who claim to be inspired by ISIS, because they’re here within our grip. The harder question on ISIS is what to do about the people dispersed abroad. I tend to agree with President Obama that Mr. Trump is doing a lot of recruiting work for ISIS and for militant Islamists when he says we can’t allow any Muslim in the United States. That is just not going to do anything constructive and I think a lot of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric – it’s not a personal thing – but I do think objectively, that his rhetoric on international matters is inflammatory. His rhetoric on immigration is inflammatory.”
On economic issues, Weld thinks lowering taxes is the key to fixing our stagnant economy: “We’re both two-term governors. We were successful governors. When I came into office, Massachusetts had the highest unemployment rate of any of the 11 industrial states. At the end of my first term, it had the lowest, because I cut taxes 21 times in my two terms. Gary Johnson cut taxes 14 times in his two terms. That’s good for employment. Businesses don’t have to think that – employers don’t have to believe that – taxes are going to go down a lot. All they have to believe is that there is a one-way ratchet, and they’re only going to be going one direction, which is down. If you’re a governor who says, ‘I’m going to veto any tax increase,’ and you make it stick for two terms, then they believe that. Then they start hiring more people. That puts upward pressure on wages and that happened in both our states in the 90s. So the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You don’t have to believe me, look at the record.”
Soon after interviewing Gov. Weld, I noticed in my peripheral vision a huddle of people. They all seemed to be gathered around a woman eerily reminiscent of House of Card’s Claire Underwood. A ten-year old boy and his mother were engaged in picture taking with her. Suddenly, I realized I was in the presence of Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood. She and her organization were in the news again this week when word came down that all criminal charges had been dismissed against David Daleiden, head of the Center for Medical Progress. Daleiden made headlines last summer with the release of multiple videos detailing the behind-the-scenes conversations at Planned Parenthood abortion clinics and efforts by some Planned Parenthood doctors to profit off of the purchase or sale of dead baby body parts.
Richards, at first, thought I must be an adoring fan. When I began to ask her what she thought of the charges against Daleiden being dropped, she beat a hasty retreat with her entourage. All I pried from her was, “So sorry.” I will leave it to my reader to decide if she was saying she was sorry the charges had been dropped or sorry that I was asking her tough questions she chose to avoid.
She embraced a man as she was escaping my questions so I decided to ask him how she knew him and whether he supported Planned Parenthood. The man was former NAACP President Ben Jealous.
He informed me that he was a Bernie supporter, but that the Democratic Party needs to hold on to the White House. When I asked him what he thought about the millions of black babies aborted, he frowned, gave me a dismissive gesture with his hand, and accelerated away from me.
One would think that he could muster a better defense of Planned Parenthood and the extreme abortion platform of the current Democratic Party, especially given that he is a former president of the preeminent organization advocating on behalf of black Americans.
I went back and reread Cecil Richards speech to the DNC, and noted this passage:
Hillary has always been in Planned Parenthood corner because she knows women deserve someone in theirs. Women like Dayna Farris Fisher, a mom in Dallas who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.
Today Dayna is cancer-free. She says she couldn’t have done it without Vivian, the PP clinician who stuck with her all the way through treatment.
When Donald Trump and Mike Pence say they’ll defund Planned Parenthood, they’re talking about cutting women like Dayna off from lifesaving care.
Make no mistake: women’s health and rights are on the line and on the ballot in this election.
Would her listeners recognize this as a surprising assertion, given that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms, chemotherapy, or cancer surgery?
Every every detail about this year’s Democratic Convention shows where the fight is on what kind of a country America will be, and whether the American experiment will survive.
Gun control, racial agitation, transgender transformation, and trashing Republican nominee Donald Trump: all on full display by the Democratic Party in Philadelphia.
At the 30th Street train station, as I awaited my return train to DC, a solitary woman in traditional Amish dress sat knitting on a bench. A lone vestige of those who yearn for a simpler time.
Gayle Trotter is an attorney and political analyst. Her views are her own.
GayleTrotter.com and @gayletrotter
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.