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Democrats Adopt a More Progressive Tone

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Reprinted from Consortium News

Co-written by *Michael Winship

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking to one of his large crowds of supporters.
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking to one of his large crowds of supporters.
(Image by (Photo credit: Sanders campaign))
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Shoot if you must these old grey heads, but these two semi-qualified observers of the passing political scene watched Monday night's proceedings at the Democratic National Convention and saw past the heckles and opprobrium of the leather-lunged few.

Instead, we witnessed an evening of progressive rhetoric and thoughtfulness unseen on a big political stage since the days of William Jennings Bryan, Wisconsin's Fighting Bob La Follette, the Happy Warrior Al Smith and the crusaders of FDR's New Deal. Not to mention Hubert Humphrey, Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, and a host of others who though history kept beating the drums for ordinary people against the organized might of Big Money.

Progressive big hitters were out on the field Monday and they successfully swung for the fences. Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were batting like the Yankees' legendary Murderers Row, aided and abetted by such powerful players as Representatives Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley.

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Michelle Obama was elegant and forceful as she looked back at her family's years in the White House and endorsed Hillary Clinton.

"I want someone with the proven strength to persevere," she said. "Someone who knows this job and takes it seriously. Someone who understands that the issues a president faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can't make snap decisions. You can't have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady, and measured, and well-informed."

Could anyone watching not feel a tingle down the spine as this remarkable woman traced the great arc of American history? We only prayed grandchildren were listening as she said that the story of America is "the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves? -- ? and I watch my daughters? -- ? two beautiful, intelligent, black young women? -- ?playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters? -- and all our sons and daughters? -- ? now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States."

Elizabeth Warren did what only she can do, deconstructing the charade that is Donald Trump.

"Trump thinks he can win votes by fanning the flames of fear and hatred," she said. "By turning neighbor against neighbor. By persuading you that the real problem in America is your fellow Americans -- people who don't look like you, or don't talk like you, or don't worship like you...That's Donald Trump's America. An America of fear and hate. An America where we all break apart...

"When we turn on each other, bankers can run our economy for Wall Street, oil companies can fight off clean energy, and giant corporations can ship the last good jobs overseas. When we turn on each other, we can't unite to fight back against a rigged system. Well, I've got news for Donald Trump. The American people are not falling for it."

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And then the hour belonged to Bernie Sanders. As he endorsed Clinton, he was gracious in defeat: "I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process. I think it's fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am. But to all of our supporters -- here and around the country -- I hope you take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved.

"Together, my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution -- Our Revolution -- continues. Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent -- a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice -- that struggle continues. And I look forward to being part of that struggle with you."

Then and there, the old socialist from Vermont liberated Democrats to be the champions of everyday people again.

Choking on Big Money

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Bill Moyers is President of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy.

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