Berkshire Democrats hopeful after Clinton's historic nomination
Democrats from Berkshire County at the party's national convention expressed optimism that the party can come together to defeat Republican Donald Trump in November, after what they described as the historic and inspiring events of the first two days of the event.
State Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, is there as the county's only delegate, pledged to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and state Rep. Trisha Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, is acting as floor whip for the Hillary Clinton delegates from Massachusetts.
"I cast my vote for Bernie Sanders as part of the roll call in the morning," Mark said about Day 2 of the convention in Philadelphia.
During the official roll call of the states on Tuesday evening, Massachusetts cast 68 votes for Clinton and 46 for Sanders, following the results of the state's primary.
"I was very excited to watch my fellow IBEW [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers] member and former co-worker Paul Feeney give the second to place Bernie's name into nomination," Mark said.
"Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii did a good job nominating Bernie as well, and I have a great deal of respect for her for supporting Bernie Sanders and resigning from an important position at the national Democratic Party earlier in the year," he said. "South Dakota cast the votes that put Hillary Clinton over the top as nominee for the Democratic Party. Regardless of who any of us supported or what we think of Hillary Clinton, that was an amazing moment and the importance of that should not be lost on anybody. For the first time in the 240-year history of the United States, a major political party has nominated a woman to be our next president. I am honored to be at this convention as a part of this history."
He added, "The culmination of Day 2 was the speech by Bill Clinton. He did a great job as always and laid out a really nice, personal picture of Hillary Clinton. He presented her as a woman, a mother and a wife, and as someone who has done so much and accomplished a great deal."
"It was just incredibly exciting," Farley-Bouvier said.
She said that when Sanders ended the voting with the Vermont delegation by asking that Clinton be nominated by acclamation, "the place went wild."
"There a lot of women here who are maybe a generation or two older than me," she said, "and they have been waiting a long, long time. It was very, very emotional."
The roll call vote of the states "was really cool," Farley-Bouvier said. "You could see all the delegates coming together [to announce the votes by state], and it was really great to see the Massachusetts delegation up there on the big screen."
Sanders supporters "were proud to cast their ballots for Sen. Sanders," she said, "but at the end of the day we have our nominee and we are coming together."
Mark said that on Monday, the first day of the convention, which he said was focused on fostering party unity after the tough primary battle: "As a Sanders delegate, I was really excited to hear Bernie Sanders' speech and wanted to hear him lay out the case for why he was endorsing Hillary Clinton. I think he did an outstanding job and the feeling in the convention center during the speech was electric," he said. "He thanked his supporters for all of our hard work and took a moment to reflect on what we have been able to accomplish against incredible odds."
Mark added, "Every ounce of momentum that has happened will be stopped dead in its tracks if Donald Trump is allowed to become the next president. Donald Trump will not be focusing on economic inequality, social justice, protecting the environment, reforming campaign finance, or any of the other issues that made us support Bernie Sanders in the first place.
"I think Bernie then made a strong case as to why Hillary Clinton is the best person in the race to take these policy items and turn them into reality," he said. "I thought it was a great speech and will go a long way toward uniting activists behind our nominee."
Both lawmakers also praised the appearance of film star Elizabeth Banks, a Pittsfield native, at the DNC on Tuesday night.
"I thought it was really great to have someone from Pittsfield making the case for our nominee and giving the Berkshires a little shout out while she was at it," Mark said.
"How cool to see Pittsfield's own Elizabeth Banks," said Farley-Bouvier, who added that she received many comments from other delegates after Banks mentioned her home town.
"The biggest surprise was that she wasn't just a speaker but a host for that whole [convention] segment, and she closed out with that awesome video, Farley-Bouvier said.
Banks produced and appeared in the celebrity version of Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" video, which debuted at the convention.
She also walked out to speak through a fog machine mist to the strains of "We Are the Champions," parodying Trump's entrance at the Republican convention in Cleveland.
She added, "Some of you know me from the 'Hunger Games,' in which I play Effie Trinket, a cruel, out-of-touch reality TV star, who wears an insane wig while delivering long-winded speeches to a violent dystopia. So when I tuned in to Cleveland last week, I was like, 'Hey, that's my act.' "
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.