My guest today is Chuck Pennacchio, a Pennsylvania activist and associate professor of history and politics at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Welcome to OpEdNews, Chuck.
Joan Brunwasser: You recently wroteThe 2016 Democratic National Convention: 'Inside-Outside' Reflections of a Bernie Sanders Delegate. Let's talk about it now. Why did you write this piece?
Chuck Pennacchio: Thanks to Rob Kall (who took interest in my story idea) and Jerry Policoff (who helped edit the article), I wrote the 'Inside-Outside' OpEdNews piece for the benefit of: 1. Street- and media-based 'outside' activists and observers of the DNC to get a sense of the 'inside' stories; 2. Delegate-colleagues, guests, and volunteers who were stuck 'inside' the DNC bubble of the Wells Fargo Center/the Downtown Convention Center/DNC-related events and receptions around town, to get a feel for the 'outside' stories; 3. Myself, my 'Politics and Media' students at University of the Arts, and my politically-active kids (20 yr-old daughter, 17 yr-old son), for purposes of interactive and intersectional learning, Journalism 101 (stories you mostly won't see covered), and 'memory and motivation' (why I/we practice democracy as a way-of-life and as a means of building community across artificial barriers that otherwise divide us).
JB: Fair enough. So, lots of us are interested in what you have to say, each with our own reasons. Did you go to Philadelphia expecting to find a disconnect between inside and outside the DNC and, if so, did that guarantee that you would find one?
CP: First, let me be clear that I didn't focus at all on the Hillary 'inside' delegates, since I knew -- as much as one can know -- that they would be compliant and dutiful audience members; that they would stand, cheer, and wave designated signs upon the command of their leadership "whips" throughout the Wells Fargo Center. Moreover, Hillary 'outside' supporters would be all but absent from the streets and parks of Philadelphia. So this was to be a Bernie 'inside-outside' story almost exclusively.
Returning to my main focus of 'inside' and 'outside' Bernie backers, I come at my organizing work as both an academic-historian and lifelong activist. Therefore, I entered the Philadelphia DNC week with no clear expectations regarding expected connections between Bernie delegates on the 'inside' and Bernie supporters on the 'outside.' This is why I was absolutely thrilled with the up-close and raucous welcome from our 'outside' Berners, who greeted Bernie delegates, at the security fence, on the first day. By the second day, of course, security authorities moved 'outside' Bernie backers 50 yards away, and by the third day they were displaced to FDR Park another 50 yards away.
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