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5 takeaways from Day One of convention: Bridging deep divide, first lady rises to occasion

1. A deep divide. Of course, anyone who was paying attention Monday knows this now, but the depth of the division between supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders and those who back Hillary Clinton can’t be overstated. The division seemed papered over for weeks, but that paper caught fire over the weekend when WikiLeaks released a treasure-trove of emails showing that the Democratic National Committee aided and abetted the Clinton campaign at Sanders’ expense. The revelations led to the resignation of the DNC chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., as well as a first convention day marked by boos and interruptions from Sanders supporters. What will stop the boos? From the looks of things Monday, nothing will.

2. It’s bigger than Bernie. Sanders clearly tried to stop his followers from rebelling, telling his assembled delegates Monday afternoon that they needed to support Clinton to stop the bullying Republican nominee, Donald Trump. And what did they do? They booed – just as they did throughout the convention session later in the day whenever Clinton’s name was mentioned. The bottom line is that Sanders unleashed a progressive uprising that will continue, and perhaps grow, for as long as the people who were booing Monday, and those at home who sympathized, keep working for their dream of a more equitable America.

3. Michelle Obama kills it. The first lady gave one of the finest political speeches in modern memory, a dignified and powerful takedown of Trump that also served as a heartfelt endorsement of Clinton. She asked America a stark question: “Who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years?” She turned Trump’s campaign slogan against him, saying: “Don’t let anyone tell you we need to make America great again; this is the greatest country on earth.” And she even appeared to get emotional when she spoke of the dignity with which Clinton handled her primary loss in 2008. It was a magnificent performance, one so strong that one has to wonder: Why doesn’t Michelle Obama want to run for public office someday?

4. The Democratic Party has a future. Despite the boos and interruptions, some speakers stood out. Best of all, there was Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose cutting critique of Trump was one of the night’s more unifying moments, one that by its very passion posed the question: What would have happened if Warren had run for president? And what would happen if she runs in 2020 if Trump wins this time? New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker showed that he has a promising future, too, captivating the room with a passionate Democratic sermon that sounded straight from the pulpit.

5. Convention comedians: Not funny. Again, as he has for eight years, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken proved he’s a much better lawmaker than comedian (although those who watched “Saturday Night Live” for years would have had every right to have suspected that, too). Worse yet, Sarah Silverman found herself working a really tough room, ignoring the “Bernie Bros” who were burning her until, finally, she told them: “You’re being ridiculous.” Well, no. The person who put her on the program in the first place was the one who was being ridiculous.

email: jzremski@buffnews.com

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