The first day of the Democratic National Convention was supposed to be one of unity, the day when the Bernie Sanders wing of the party finally came into the fold and put their full force behind Hillary Clinton.
That didn’t happen.
Though Sanders himself tried to tell his delegates multiple times — in a speech Monday morning, and via texts and e-mails — to be respectful and not interrupt the convention, the early part of the day included multiple outbreaks of boos for Clinton and several speakers were shouted down.
A group of Bernie Sanders supporters chanted “No TPP!” and waved signs opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership while Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland spoke on a completed unrelated topic. The TPP is a controversial free trade agreement opposed by many on both the left and right but favored by President Barack Obama. Clinton supported the deal when she led the State Department, but came out against it during the primary campaign.
The theme of the day was “United Together,” and the speaker lineup seemed designed to appeal to the progressive voters who have felt left behind by the party, specifically in the aftermath of the DNC e-mail hack scandal that led to DNC Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation. Sanders himself spoke, as did firebrand progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren and First Lady Michelle Obama. Even comedian Sarah Silverman, a prominent Sanders supporter, came out to make a joke-filled speech both explaining why she supported Sanders and why she would now “proudly” vote for Clinton.
“May I just say to the ‘Bernie or Bust’ people — you’re being ridiculous,” Silverman said.
Warren received a positive reaction by mostly criticizing Trump. She called Trump’s nation “an America of fear and hate,” and criticized him for having no real policy ideas other than building a “stupid wall.”
By the end of the evening, some of the rancor had faded. The chants for Bernie Sanders became less frequent and many speakers received cheers from the whole convention. First Lady Michelle Obama in particular gave a rousing address that had the crowd roaring in support for both her husband, President Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.
Ultimately, though, the schism in the party was the big story of the first day of the convention. Republicans faced a similar problem last week, when anti-Donald Trump delegates made their voices heard on the floor in Cleveland. By the end of the week, most of that was gone as Trump gave a speech to boisterous applause to close the convention. If Clinton wants to reverse the recent bounce Trump has seen in the polls, she will need to pull off a similar turnaround.