Navigating the first virtual Democratic National Convention

Your Local Election HQ

The Founding Fathers never saw this coming.

Democrats held their first presidential nominating convention in Baltimore, where they backed General Andrew Jackson for a second term, along with his vice president, Martin van Buren.

The Republican Party wasn’t founded for another 22 years and held its first convention in Philadelphia to nominate John C. Fremont of California for president and New Jersey’s William Dayton – like Fremont, a former senator – for vice president.

This year’s conventions were set for Milwaukee (Democrats) and Charlotte (Republicans) until the coronavirus said, “Whoa, wait a minute.”

Both parties have brought the bulk of their conventions online, and delegates like Fox Brown and Dave Wils – who were both in Philadelphia as delegates to the 2016 Democratic Convention – are having to do their work and watching on the internet.

“You’re not going to have the great roll call where the votes are being tallied live. I actually already voted,” Wils said.

“This is my official ballot that I have cast as a delegate representing the 6th district of North Carolina,” said Brown, holding up a simple piece of paper with three votes on it. “I fulfilled my pledge, first, to vote for Bernie Sanders.”

As a Sanders delegate, Brown was required to hold to that pledge. He wasn’t required to vote yes on the party platform – most of which, he likes very much. He voted no because he thinks it can be even better with more input from Sanders’ supporters.

“We see a lot that’s missing,” Brown said. “In a time like now, we really believe we need stronger medical reform – Medicare for all, preferably. It does not help us change the status of Puerto Rico.”

Wils had the privilege of speaking at the convention, four years ago.

He also misses that face-to-face interaction but is focusing on what he believes really matters.

“It’s unprecedented, it’s perhaps not as enjoyable as the real thing but it’s important work,” Wils said.

See how they “conventioned from afar” in this edition of Your Local Election Headquarters.

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