There are some eerie similarities emerging between this year's Republican and Democratic national conventions — in particular, a collective outrage directed at Hillary Clinton and the political establishment, which have underpinned much of the past election year. Each has also so far had its share of chaos — but the Democratic convention has barely even started.
Hanging over the start of the Democratic convention on Monday was the fallout from the DNC email leak, which showed how top party officials discounted Bernie Sanders' primary campaign. On Monday, outgoing DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was booed when she attempted to address delegates from her home state of Florida, many of whom were holding signs that simply read "e-mails."
Later on Monday, Sanders, who is scheduled to speak during a primetime slot, attempted to address his supporters and urge them to vote for Clinton. But he did not get very far before being drowned out by boos and chants of "We want Bernie!"
Sanders' attempt to coalesce his supporters against Trump — and their vehement opposition to doing so — was perhaps the most striking illustration of just how much Clinton is disliked.
Before the Democratic convention even kicked off though, the anger toward Clinton, Wasserman Schultz, and the DNC sparked protests in Philadelphia. On Sunday, 1,000 people marched in the first protest of the week, with many carrying anti-Clinton signs and a few lugging a coffin branded with "DNC" to represent the death of the party.
"I ask you a question: do you think that we can bend our political revolution by folding up our movement's stance and rallying behind Hillary?" asked Kshama Sawant, the socialist Seattle City councilwoman and outspoken Sanders surrogate, during Sunday's rally.
The crowd responded with a resounding "No."
The anti-Clinton and anti-establishment vibe at the DNC comes right after the Republican convention concluded last week, where the one consistent theme was Clinton-loathing. Nearly every speaker who took the stage in Cleveland railed against her and made the case for why she should be in shackles rather than the White House.
During Governor Chris Christie's speech, chants of "lock her up" filled the convention arena. Indeed, it was difficult to get through downtown Cleveland without seeing dozens of convention-goers wearing t-shirts that read "Hillary for Prison," or vendors selling buttons emblazoned with "Trump that bitch."
On Monday, pro-Bernie delegates from California took a page out of Christie's book and chanted "lock her up" at a delegation breakfast meeting, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Monday's theme for the Democratic convention is "United Together," which, in addition to being somewhat redundant, could have just as easily worked at last week's Republican convention. Last Monday, anti-Trump delegates attempted to make their last push to stop Trump from being crowned but they were quickly squashed by the convention chair on the first day. Trump supporters jeered Senator Ted Cruz from the convention floor as he declined to endorse the party's nominee, and the day before they jeered Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell as he walked onstage, in a vocal disapproval of the Washington Republican establishment.
The Democratic convention floor is likely to feel similar this week. Many pro-Bernie delegates see Clinton's nomination as the result of a "rigged system" and DNC corruption, and are threatening to disrupt the event. They're also planning to hold more demonstrations this week. Despite Sanders himself urging party unity and endorsing Clinton two weeks ago, many of his supporters are still refusing to vote for her.
But if you put all the anti-establishment fervor and protests aside, there are some major differences between the two conventions. For one thing, the DNC is going to be a lot more fun.
Dozens of celebrities are planning to be in Philadelphia this week, including appearances by Clinton surrogate and professional millennial Lena Dunham, and Hollywood star Susan Sarandon, who is an outspoken Bernie supporter, and actors Bradley Cooper, Chloe Grace Moretz, and America Ferrera.
There will also be performances rivalling the lineup from Coachella. Artists such as Diplo, Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz, Janelle Monae, Lady Gaga, Idina Menzel, and Cyndi Lauper are all performing at events throughout Philadelphia this week. Rounding out the convention is a "unity party" on the final night which is being headlined by Snoop Dogg.
Meanwhile, the RNC was severely lacking in A (or even D)-listers. The biggest celebrities in Cleveland were Scott Baio, a supporting character from Duck Dynasty, and professional golf player Natalie Gulbis, who is ranked 484th in the world. Kid Rock and Third Eye Blind were the biggest musical performances, the latter of which trolled the Republican party during their set.
It's not just celebrities who skipped the RNC. Trump's divisive candidacy scared dozens of prominent Republicans from attending their party's convention this year, whereas almost every prominent Democrat is planning on being in Philadelphia this week.
President Obama and former president Bill Clinton are scheduled to speak at the DNC this week (zero Republican former presidents attended the RNC). Both congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are also giving speeches, as well as Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Barbara Boxer, and Chuck Schumer.
The Republicans who skipped the RNC had to employ some pretty creative excuses to explain why. Arizona senator Jeff Flake said he needed to mow his lawn and Florida representative Mario Diaz said he'd be getting his hair done. But it was Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse who made it especially clear why he steered away from Cleveland. According to a spokesperson, Sasse decided to take "his kids to watch some dumpster fires across the state, all of which enjoy more popularity than the current front-runners."
Liz Fields contributed reporting from Philadelphia
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