The back-to-back partisan blast of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions are mercifully over now. We watched the coverage on TV, followed along on Twitter, and read the daily churn of think pieces, but what we really wanted to get was a sense of what it was like to actually be there. To get the answers, we got in touch with UB Elmi, a contributor and production assistant at MTV News who attended the RNC in Cleveland (where he currently resides) and the DNC in Philadelphia. For both weeks he was entrenched outside of the arenas, speaking to the supporters, participants, and the protesters.
What did you think of Hillary’s speech?
I thought it was pretty good. The one thing I didn’t really like about it was I didn’t feel like she really tackled any of the main issues. She talked more about her policies than Trump did [about his], but she didn’t really highlight any major points. She actually spoke about real politics compared to Trump. But I liked the way she talked about the Bernie supporters and addressed them like, Yo, to make a long story short, I can’t win without you guys.
How crazy was it seeing that many Bernie Sanders supporters out there?
It was weird because when we were in the streets, we were trying to get people’s temperatures that were outside. After the RNC I was like, Trump was cool and all, but Hillary is going to win. After the DNC, I thought Trump was going to win because when I was out there, there were all these Bernie or Bust people. Everyone in the streets were Bernie supporters. We interviewed about 200 people and out of that, we probably had like five Hillary supporters. And the only Hillary supporters were women. All the Black Muslim ladies were voting for Hillary. A couple white ladies were voting for her too.
But I had to fall back and think about it like, Why is this happening? Then I realized, what do Hillary supporters need to protest? They don’t need to be in the streets.
Right, they’re inside.
Exactly! They’re inside the convention or at work. They’re not protesting shit. The reason why there were so many Bernie supporters outside was because they were trying to get him to come back. That was the most interesting night of the DNC, the day Bernie spoke, because everyone was like, “Bernie this, Bernie that,” and that night, he came out and endorsed Hillary. And so the next day people went from being Bernie or Bust to realizing they don’t want Trump to win. Everyone was so hyped up and were thinking [Sanders] was going to come out and pull a Ted Cruz—how he went to the convention after being invited by Trump to speak and basically said fuck Trump. Everyone thought Bernie was gonna do the same, but he basically said, Me and Hillary got some plans. We need to get her into office. It was weird because the next day I was talking to these Bernie supporters and they were saying it’s still Bernie or Bust, but you could tell at the back of their minds they were like, FUCK.
Have you heard all these people saying they’re going to vote for Jill Stein?
Yeah, I went to her rally. She spoke and we got her on camera with all her supporters with the “Jill Not Hill” posters. She seems cool, but she doesn’t have a chance to keep it 1000. Think about it, if Bernie would have run as an independent, he would’ve pulled some shit like Ross Perot. He definitely would have gotten like 25% of the vote. But Jill Stein, she won’t get more than 5%.
I definitely think with the present candidates in the race and the new ones emerging, a spoiler effect of Ralph Nader that happened with George W. Bush and Al Gore could happen again. But I really feel the only reason Hillary would lose is if Bernie people continue to be so against her and difficult. I’ve really been wondering, when did politics get like this? It’s like someone in sports saying, “If the Cavs aren’t in the playoffs, I’m not watching.” That’s exactly how people feel with Bernie, saying that if he’s not in the general election, they aren’t voting or will vote for someone else to keep Hillary from office.
Those people need to realize at the end of the day, their voices are being heard. The Hillary campaign is hearing what the have to say and that is what matters the most. They will admit that we need to start reforming education, giving more money for minimum wage, and putting more money into the middle and lower class. Don’t get me wrong, Hillary could win and take office and completely turn her back to those people, but then there’s no way she’ll get a second term. They have to understand that these Bernie or Bust people shook shit up. Hillary hears them and the Democratic Party hears them. That’s what it’s all about. Because especially if Trump becomes president, it’s all moving backwards.
There’s no doubt in my mind [Trump] wants to make all the country’s progress reverse. I was speaking to my roommate and he was saying that all he’s worried about is the US getting attacked, and that Trump can prevent that. I asked him who he thinks would attack us? ISIS? Al Shabaab or something?
We’re definitely going to get attacked if [Trump] becomes president.
Exactly. How have you felt about the rhetoric and strange relationship developing between Vladimir Putin and Trump, and how Hillary’s been reacting to it?
He’s been throwing hints at it, but at the end of the day, Russia is still the opps. So he’s over here like, Ha ha, I told Putin to hack Hillary’s email. That’s not funny. They actually hacked the Democratic National Committee’s email. They infiltrated our national security. Now [Trump’s] saying he didn’t mean it and he was just talking. And when people ask him his thoughts on Putin, he’s saying, I don’t really know the guy, but he says good things about me and thinks I’d be a great president. He’s talking about a guy the country does not get along with and is currently basically colonizing and invading Ukraine.
But back to Hillary and the DNC. Is her speech what you expected to hear or did she actually try and appeal to the people who aren’t supporting her?
I really do think she tried. To be 100%, the RNC and DNC were extremely different. I wouldn’t say the RNC was better, but Cleveland in general held the RNC down better than Philly did for the DNC. The actual DNC shitted on the RNC because all week they had Alicia Keys and Katy Perry performing. Obama spoke and Biden spoke. Trump had a guy from Duck Dynasty. Hillary had Michelle and Cory Booker, the old mayor from Newark, New Jersey, who’s a senator now. From Bill Clinton and her daughter to Bernie Sanders. It overwhelmingly felt like she had big people supporting her, so the voters were more likely to follow suit.
If you watched the RNC, it was a lot of random people coming to speak, trying scare voters.
[Trump] had people up there telling lies. And the only notable name he had up there was Ted Cruz, and people felt, Well, if Ted Cruz supports him, this means the GOP is coming together. But then he came on stage to essentially tell Trump to beat it. Bernie was basically in the same situation, but actually supported Hillary. Ted Cruz didn’t support [Trump], and that was his only real competition. And still is. I think Ted Cruz did that to get ready for 2020, to be honest. He’s young and he should.
I don’t really like him and he’s a weird guy, but to me it’s looking like the GOP is in shambles right now. At the same time, if it wasn’t for Trump it wouldn’t be a race. If was Ted Cruz, Carson, Christie, or one of these other smaller Republicans, they wouldn’t stand a chance. Because it’s Donald Trump, his name holds weight and he wants people to say it. He’s not even really a Republican, he’s doing it just to become president. What happens if he loses? The whole party is gonna have to reform massively.
It’s kinda like what happened in ’08 when Obama won. People felt they were in disarray, kind of exiled.
That’s exactly where they’re headed right now!
You think so?
If Hillary wins, not only will she be president, but the Democrats are gonna start getting the House again. If she wins, she can get stuff done. If Trump wins, he won’t have the House and nothing he tries to pass will go through. But for the stuff that Bernie and the far left want to be passed, they have to win the House. If Hillary wins and she doesn’t have the House, then it’s gonna be another Obama situation all over again.