It was a tale of two conventions: one story was told by the corporations, a different was told by the citizenry. It was the tale of two conventions: one for the economic elite and one for the common folk.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. My experiences at the 2016 Democratic National Convention left me both exhausted and elated. Exhausted emotionally from seeing the party I’ve belonged to all of my adult life subvert democracy and stifle opposition, and elated from the love and energy from my brothers and sisters in this movement. It is growing increasingly more difficult to believe in the fallacy of the American dream. Yet while I believe our leadership is marching us off a cliff, I am increasingly grateful for my fellow citizens who are waking up and standing up.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
I no longer practice journalism and haven’t done so in some time. At best I am a pundit. At worst I’m gonzo, inflecting my own views into my reports. This will be no different. I have no guilt from sharing my viewpoint. I encourage you to share yours. You write your missive. I’ll write mine. Mine is the same today as it was over a year ago. I still believe that upward mobility in America is a myth. I still believe the country I live in and love has become an oligarchy. I believe our elections are fraudulent. The only new information I have to offer this go-around is that I am not alone. #OurMovement is not just a hashtag floated around the internet. Real men and women of all ages and races stood up against oligarchy last week in Philadelphia.
Like just about all of the Bernie supporters I spoke with: delegates, protesters and independent journalists alike, I put my personal well-being aside to answer a calling to show up to Philadelphia for the big DNC con last week. Speaking to many who hitchhiked across country, camped in 100-degree weather and were unsure where their next meal would come from, I felt blessed that through the kindness of strangers, I had free transportation and shelter.
Like many Americans, healthcare is a struggle for me. Just before heading to Philadelphia I learned a tumor I’d had removed years ago had a replacement growing in. I’ve no clue how I’ll deal with it. I’ve dental issues I’ve no idea how to tackle. I’m confused that universal healthcare seems to be on the Republican platform but not on the platform of the Democrats. I help care for my elderly grandparents, who often choose between medicine and nutrition while politicians on both right and left drool over their Social Security. I wonder if those politicians will squander Social Security in the stock market before I see what I’ve paid into that brilliant safety net.
Enough about me. I’m just trying to explain which team I fit into and that I don’t see a real solution being presented. Obamacare certainly wasn’t it: forcing Americans to do business with greedy insurance companies to the point people can’t afford co-pays or to get the care they need. I’m under the impression that without crowdfunding, nobody who lives in poverty could achieve healthcare. I talked with several people in Philadelphia who were using GoFundMe.com to stay alive. I talked to many folks who have no retirement plan other than Social Security. That’s the America I live in every day. These were my people.
Crowdfunding made it possible for a majority of the Bernie delegates I spoke with to get to Philadelphia and honor their elected positions. All of the Hillary delegates I spoke with were well off. In fact, while out and about around the Convention center, it wasn’t uncommon to hear Hillary supporters bragging about how they donated enough to be credentialed to attend the convention. It was just as common to hear Bernie delegates wonder how they’d afford to pay their bills next month. It quickly became my belief that a certain level of economic comfort was necessary to go along with the tactical gamesmanship of my party, who masterfully suppressed all opposition both in process and broadcast.
As the 2016 Democratic National Convention began, we started hearing horror stories from Bernie delegates about the abuse they were enduring inside the convention. A delegate from Kansas told my team about how he and his delegation were often physically pushed around by both Hillary delegates and their Comcast security force. (Comcast was the main “sponsor” of the 2016 DNC, and a donor to the Clintons.) A delegate from Oregon told us how a Comcast cop ripped his credentials from his neck and then kicked him out of the convention for not having credentials, all because he had an anti-TPP sign.
As thousands of protesters gathered outside the mile-wide security perimeter to lend their voices to a concern that the primary itself had been stolen through election fraud and DNC collusion with the Clinton campaign, the delegates staged several types of protests themselves. They held signs in favor of Medicare for All, against the TPP, in favor of banning fracking, that Palestinians are human beings too, and a host of other issues ignored by today’s Democratic Party. They staged walk outs and sit ins. They jeered and chanted.
Your TV didn’t show you the extent of this. The protests were permitted so that they were outside of any area easily filmed. You had to be prepared to walk several miles with your gear to capture any of the real protests. They used white noise machines and clever camera work to broadcast an image of unity while there was anything but in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. They bussed in seat-fillers to cover-up that 43% of the delegates protested the coronation of Hillary Clinton. When a news network did cover the protests outside, they showed the smallest gatherings, or the craziest looking people they could find. Never the large marches. In fact, most of the protest footage or photography you can easily find from last week from major media sources are from the marches that took place in downtown Philly. Shy of citizen journalists, like the team I covered the event with, there is very little from the real story, the fence-line protests.
The fence line protesters were my favorite. In 100-degree heat they greeted the delegates each day, with cheers for Bernie delegates and jeers for Hillary delegates. The Game of Thrones “shame, shame, shame,” chant was common for Hillary delegates in their $3,000 outfits as they arrived or departed each day. The Bernie delegates, usually in tee-shirts and shorts, were greeted with ovation and thanks, especially during their walk-out direct actions.
The same differential of class status seemed true for the media as well, including where they covered the convention. Even among our indie-media brethren, very few walked the fence-line protests. My team got into arguments with teams from FOX News and Politico who distorted protest numbers inaccurately because they’d not been out there. We found ourselves urging other indie media folks to step outside the comfort of the Wells Fargo Center and walk the fence-line with us.
It wasn’t an easy protest to cover. As I stated earlier, a lot of walking was involved. The closest you could park was two-miles away. My team averaged 15 miles a day, according to that app on my phone that wants me to be healthier, and that doesn’t count steps while my phone was off to conserve battery. The only leaders of the Progressive movement that I saw make the effort to show solidarity were Nina Turner, Kshama Sawant and Dr. Jill Stein. Perhaps others joined in, but those three women are the only ones I can give due credit to.
The illusion of party unity broadcast on television has been brought to you by seat-fillers, white noise machines, clever camera work, elected delegates pushed into holding rooms by Comcast security, and the masterful tacticians who permitted the protests perfectly outside areas the public would catch onto. I was there. The truth of the matter is that 42-48% of the elected delegates protested the coronation or were stripped of credentials for things like having election fraud/wiki-leaks, anti-TPP or pro-Palestinians-are-humans signage. Bernie delegates were abused and refused their right to participate in the convention. For example, a large number of delegates wanted a floor vote on Vice President, and it was denied, against DNC rules. The nomination was handed to the former head of the DNC who stepped down so Debbie Wasserman Schultz could rig the contest for Hillary, as outlined in the Wikileaks. She then resigned when found out, with no repercussion for subverting democracy. That’s just the truth. Like I always say: your TV lies to you.
The Democrats decided last week that rather than give 42-48% of their delegates, representing near half of their party, any dignity over the information found in the WikiLeaks exposure, they would use the hack to try and start another Cold War. Light apologies were offered for tilting the scales as an Election Justice USA report dropped exposing how the primaries were fraudulent and stolen, confirming the findings of the Stanford study that said the odds of Hillary winning the primaries fairly were one in 77 billion. The Democratic Party made it clear that they would rather lose to Trump than to stand up to oligarchy, yet fear of Trump is the only platform they stand on. The Russians didn’t rig a primary. Putin didn’t write those emails. The Democrats are to blame. The political party of the sitting President used sham elections to install their preferred candidate against the will of the people. It’s been proven. Support who you want. But accept one truth: Party unity is a sham. Approximately half of the Democratic Party refuses to be accomplices in this coup.
It turns out that staging a coup and staging a reality show for television aren’t so different. Hillary delegates were given a sheet of counter-chants to help cover up Bernie delegation chants for the television cameras. If you heard “Hillary” chants, they were likely 48% “Stop the TPP” chants. Cameras masterfully avoided broadcasting signs and banners from near half of those in attendance protesting the coronation of Hillary Clinton after a fraudulent primary season. The Democratic Party puts the “con” in “convention.” They have masterfully steered the national conversation away from the crimes against democracy and humanity that Hillary Clinton has committed to those that Donald Trump says he will. I believe that actions speak louder than words, personally.
There was a tale of two conventions told last week. The vantage point differs based on economic security and which lens you viewed it from. The corporate media lied. The citizen journalists tried.
“Then tell Wind and Fire where to stop,” returned madame; “but don’t tell me.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Though I’m now in the business of internet punditry, I don’t want to be in the business of telling folks what to do with their votes, just like I’ll drop anyone like they’re hot who tries to tell me what to do. Progressives have been bullied enough. I will, however, outline the two options I have considered and what I am going to do as an example, for those at wit’s end and trying to decide for themselves.
Until last week and my experiences in Philadelphia, I was very much in line to stay a Democrat and fight for reform from within. That means becoming a Precinct Captain on the local level and working for Progressives to primary establishment Democrats from the smallest of offices up. I was prepared to seek out an office to run for as a Democrat.
Seeing the subversion of democracy, free speech and party participation first hand, I personally believe the party is too far gone to be saved. Just like the Republicans are. Kshama Sawant and other members of Socialist Alternative have been doing trainings surrounding their call for a unity party of the 99%. Basically, a collaborative network of progressive leaning third parties, grassroots organizations, labor unions and others to attack both local offices as well as candidates for big offices like Governor and President. I am very interested in this concept, and organizations like BrandNewCongress.com who seek to effect change through similar coalitions.
I have been very critical of the Green party on my show and appearances on other shows, but with that said, I’ve decided that it’s time to work for Dr. Stein and get her on the debate stage. Depending on which media cartel’s polls you believe she’s anywhere from 2% to 12% in the polls, and needs to be at 15% to do be included in debate. With the Democratic and Republican parties fractured, and a majority of Americans voting outside of the party system for the first time in many years, I believe that third parties do have a chance if on the national stage. I also think it would be very good for America, especially in this divisive national election, to elect from a third party. Yet, even if they can’t win, they can broaden the national discussion on the issues in a way a Trump and Clinton tweet war won’t. I won’t tell you to vote the same as me, but I beg of you, if polled, tell the pollster that you’re voting for Jill Stein. Adding the largest of the third parties to the debate and thus the American conversation is just good for America. It’s good for democracy. If we still have such a thing.
As for election reform, Greg Palast has a film coming out that needs to be required viewing, on the four ways this primary was stolen and the path to fair and transparent elections. The Democrats, nor Republicans should be trusted on this issue. It is against their interests and the interests of those who bankroll them, like AIPAC and others that the Princeton report on oligarchy proves are further subverting democracy. My belief is that all change moving forward will come from the grassroots. It will take regular people rising up to participate in both democracy and media. Run for office. Start a show. Correct the lies TVs and corporate run politicians tell. We have the numbers when polled on the issues. We just lack organization. Reach out to a grassroots organization that appeals to you and give all the time you can. At least, these are the ideals that I’m striving to live. If you’ve been paying attention to me at all, you know that I’m a broken record here. Run for office. Start a show. At least open the eyes of your friends and family. Democracy isn’t a spectator sport. It’s full contact and we need everybody on the field. The six media cartels (made possible through the Clinton Telecommunications Act, now providing quid-pro-quo) are pulling the wool over the American public’s eyes. It’s up to all of us to pull it down again.
Again, when polled on the issues, a majority of Americans agree on those issues. The special interest groups funding the Republican and Democratic parties keep those issues from being acted upon. Are you so comfortable that you don’t care to fight for change? Do you love your neighbor? There is a battle between the empathetic and the selfish waging which one way or another is leading to a resource war, be it caused by climate change or beating war drums. I honestly don’t believe that statement to be hyperbole, but I’d rather not say that I told you so. We can still change course if we continue to stand up.
“Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; – the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
I am not the sort who fears much. I don’t fear death. I don’t fear injury. I don’t fear political retribution for speaking up. I know that all of those things are inevitable. Life ends with death. Accidents happen. The Clintons always find a way to seek revenge on their critics. These are truths which can not be debated or avoided. I do not fear a spoiled brat turned power-hungry madman saying scary things as much as I fear MY party and the Clintons who control it DOING scary things. I fear the control of information, despite a free and open internet, is so obscene that most Americans, sipping on lead-poisoned water or super-sugar soft-drinks, live in complete ignorance of what is truly happening in our country. If the infomercial which was the Democratic National Convention is any proof, the Reagan era threat of disinformation is complete. William Casey, describing his job as CIA director in the Reagan Administration, famously said, “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” The images broadcast and reported upon from the Democratic National Convention, like coverage of Occupy Wall Street and Ferguson beforehand, were a complete distortion of reality.
Despite the bleak reality of low-information voters being suckered by the power structure, I am not pessimistic. Americans are a beautiful people, full of resolve and chutzpa. Even the potential totalitarian rule of Clinton or fascist regime of Trump will not break their spirit, their ability to blindly love each other, and their desire to put what is good and right above corruption and greed. I have seen it first hand. While the fourth estate does the bidding of the elite and covers it up, people are awake and standing up. Your TV lies to you.
“I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
If you are among the awake and the rising up, I salute you. I strive to be your comrade. There was a tale of two conventions last week. The corporate media told one story. The citizen media told another.
Do not trust your vantage point of the world to their lens. Do not trust it to mine either. I will always be biased towards the common folk. Be the media. Research, experience and share. We live in an era where only multiple eye witness accounts and recordings can be trusted. Humanity is interdependent, for most all things, and information is part of that.
I’m Michael Salamone. You be you. Let’s please be good to each other. Cheers.