By Daniel James Clark, Los Angeles
I have no idea whose idea it was to incorporate music with presidential campaigns. Popular music, I mean. Obviously, the strains of John Phillip Sousa and big band fan fares have been around for eons, but the idea of a presidential candidate walking onto the stage to a song everyone in the audience knows, that is something different.
And thanks to whatever political genius decided to marry pop music and politics, it can be hard to separate the candidate the song. I’m sure there are many who can’t hear Lee Greenwood’s "Proud to be an American" without, in some way, thinking of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush taking to the stage. In the same way, when I hear the opening strains of "The Rising" by Bruce Springsteen, my mind is immediately taken back to hot Indiana summers and watching the first man I had ever been able to vote for, Barack Obama, take the stage.
Simply put, music is important to campaigns. It sets the tone, introduces the candidate, and, in some way shape or form, solidifies an image of that candidate in our heads.
But why am I talking about music? Why focus on campaign theme songs when we are just putting the shutter on one convention and bringing up the lights on another?
Well, it’s not because of GOP Nominee Donald Trump’s use of a bisexual immigrants anthem as an introduction last Monday, nor is it because of the almost poetic ironic of his campaign’s use of "You Can’t Always Get What You Want." No, actually it was something the Democrats did last night.
"Bridge Over Troubled Water" -- that’s what they played. Paul Simon came out on stage and played "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to a convention floor, the vocal majority of which were booing every other speaker.
If the Republicans hit the nail on the head with their song choices, the Democrats might as well have had a sledgehammer on stage with Paul Simon last night.
The chants, jeers and catcalls that echoed up from the floor of the convention hall in Philadelphia last night may be brushed off as simply disrespectful or it may inspire mass fear within the Democratic Party and the Democratic Establishment who have long prayed for party unity.
The images of young, inspired voters and delegates crying as Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke, however, should put all DNC staffers on their toes for the rest of this convention.
While the old adage is true, that Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line, no matter how fervent Sanders supporters may be, the choice is clear. Or at least the Democratic Leadership has made it seem so.
Both Sen. Sanders and the DNC have spent the past two days bending over backwards to assure everyone from the 102-year-old woman to the 18-year-old kid that Hillary Clinton is their party’s nominee and the best chance for the voice of the progressive movement. But despite one of the most humble and gracious speeches ever given by a losing candidate, supporters of Sen. Sanders still seem to harbor reservations.
And those reservations could be what prevent these voters from going to the polls or, as has been suggested, they made instead vote Green or Libertarian. Mr. Trump has already made attempts to reach out to these voters in his own way during his acceptance speech last week.
But these so-called ‘Bernie or Bust’ supporters cannot seriously be considering supporting Mr. Trump, can they? Donald Trump is the antithesis to everything they stand for, is he not?
Well, it depends on why they voted for Bernie in the first place. Do not get me wrong, there are many, many bright and informed progressive that threw their support behind Sen. Sanders. But for every 10 of them there is the bad Bernie supporter who fell in love with the cult of personality surrounding Sen. Sanders. These voters are the ones who very well could switch their votes to Mr. Trump. It’s a very real possibility, one that can and should make DNC staffers scared out of their minds this week. And this week only.
Because after this week, the vocal few Bernie supporters who refuse to vote for Secretary Clinton will never be won over. Truly, whatever your thoughts on Secretary Clinton or the DNC as a whole, the fact remains they have done an exemplary job of reaching out to Bernie voters this week.
So, instead of continually harping on the Bernie-or-Bust crowd, the campaign, instead, needs to do what campaigns always do at this time of year. Pivot to the center. As proven last night, it appears that neither Mr. Trump nor the Republican Party has any desire to expand their base of voters. Instead, last week’s convention seemed to be the GOP’s greatest hits, as they hit the same points we have heard time and time again.
If Secretary Clinton is able to correctly pivot to the middle, she has a real chance at winning this election. Don’t get me wrong, this election will be close. Very close. But the middle is where it will be won. Not the extremist right and not by continuing to court Bernie’s supporters.
Secretary Clinton and the rest of the DNC have built their bridge to the Bernie supporters. It is up to them whether they will cross it. But Sen. Clinton cannot worry about them anymore.
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