From Inside Ritz-Carlton, Clinton Donors Tell Sanders Backers to Give Up
"There's no polite way to depart from the status quo; it's always going to be disruptive," says Rep. Keith Ellison
Hillary Clinton's big-money donors have something to say to Bernie Sanders' supporters: Go away.
Although Clinton accepted her nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Thursday with a speech that echoed Sanders' populist rhetoric, her message was undercut by moments that struck a conservative chord, angering those who fear she will abandon what some saw as a leftward shift if elected president. Throughout the convention this week, Sanders delegates and allies have protested the power of money in politics—among other key progressive issues—both outside and inside the venue.
Now, some of Clinton's biggest donors want them to back off—a message delivered from "the lobby of the Center City Ritz-Carlton," Politico reports:
There is a widespread sense among major donors who gathered here that supporters of her vanquished rival Sanders have overstepped their bounds with their protests and heckling of speakers, according to interviews with about a dozen donors and fundraisers.
[....] While Clinton continues to promise to rein in the influence of big money, her donors this week have seemed emboldened, celebrating at private parties around town and mingling in the lobby of the Center City Ritz-Carlton over cocktails and seafood, discussing politics and summer plans over a thumping bass pulse. The soaring marble lobby of the hotel, the preferred accommodation for major donors, became such a scene that the hotel restricted it to guests-only late Wednesday night.
One supporter, whose family has donated more than $6 million to Democrats over the years, told Politico that the convention protests "didn't do them any good."
The New York Times also reports:
While protesters marched in the streets and blocked traffic, Democratic donors congregated in a few reserved hotels and shuttled between private receptions with A-list elected officials. If the talk onstage at the Wells Fargo Center was about reducing inequality and breaking down barriers, Center City Philadelphia evoked the world as it still often is: a stratified society with privilege and access determined by wealth.
[....] The Philadelphia convention offered other symbolic contrasts to the party's last two gatherings, when President Obama sought, with mixed success, to restrict his party from raising money to pay for the conventions from lobbyists or political action funds. Those shackles were thrown off this year, waving a green flag to Washington’s influence industry. Lobbyists and corporate representatives flooded the city, where much of the Democratic Party's elite—and potential senior members of a future presidential administration—had gathered.
But outside of wealthy donor circles, the perspective was different. Jonathan Tasini, a liberal organizer and Sanders delegate from New York, told the Times on Thursday that, "The Clinton people would always argue, 'Well, there's no connection between the money and the actions that we take.' That's what these cocktail parties and receptions are all about. It's about access and whose phone calls get answered."
And Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), an early Sanders supporter who made several rounds at the convention pushing for allies to vote for Clinton—if only to stop Republican nominee Donald Trump—told Vox this week, "There is a certain school of thought that says, 'If Hillary is going to be the president, we want to let her know how we feel now.'"
"We want her to be clear that we're not for these free trade deals, and we're not for these foreign interventions.' That school of thought is that the way to partner with our president and guide our country in the right direction is by making our voices heard now," Ellison said. "It's not a putdown. It's, 'We feel strongly about these issues, and we want you to hear it.'"
"There's no polite way to depart from the status quo; it's always going to be disruptive," he continued. "For the ordinary citizens who feel that $27 is a lot of money, they feel locked out. And all they can do is try to raise a little hell to be heard."