I have always liked the word “rumpus” — a word I first heard as a child playing with my young cousins in the Rumpus Room, as my uncles liked to call it. It was the room where the family chilled out in their various easy chairs to smoke cigars, put their feet up, talk loudly, drink whiskey and watch television.
It was there we kids could feel the energy of their relaxation and candor, empathetically translated into the child’s language of play: the evening’s easy chairs were our morning trampolines. I become breathless just remembering being that young.
Rumpus — a noisy clamor. A confused, or disruptive commotion. This is what happened this weekend at the Nevada State Democratic convention, where the delegates formally declared and certified their apportionment of Clinton and Sanders delegates who will be seated at the Democratic National Convention near the end of July. The final apportionment was 20 Clinton, 15 Sanders. That was the easy part.
The hard part was how they got there, which according to the news was not standard. At what should have been a tedious, all-day affair — because boredom is standard for State party conventions — there were strong protestations with rumpuses throughout the day, which included challenges to existing convention rules by Sanders supporters. California Senator Barbara Boxer, a regional representative at the event, was called a bitch.
Then there was the abrupt ending of the convention, which had already run three hours overtime due to the disruptions taking place throughout the day. The convention venue’s security could no longer handle the protests and were working overtime. They wanted it all shut down. At the end chairs were thrown onto the stage by frustrated Sanders supporters. The rumpus in Nevada took over the weekend news cycle.
We heard lots of conflicting reports over the weekend as to whether there were rule changes to keep Sanders from winning Nevada. Apparently, there were no new rules made for the purpose of clinching the deal for Clinton. There was only the application of existing rules, which required that the delegates should be registered Democrats at Nevada’s State Democratic Convention. This is not the first time Sanders supporters, many of whom are Independents, learned their lessons the hard way as to how to support their candidate.
As I mentioned, the final convention result netted 20 delegates for Clinton and 15 for Sanders. This validated the Feb. 20 caucus results for both candidates.
Are we at the news-standard meme of Democrats in disarray? Possibly. Twenty-first century COINTELPRO disrupting party politics? Could be. Anything is possible in this election year of surprises and upheaval, starting with the entrance of a lifelong Independent candidate as a near-successful candidate for the Democratic Party nomination. Let alone a shoot-out-the-mouth immature billionaire narcissist who bucked party convention on the Republican side and is the presumed party nominee. I guess I am having a hard time being surprised by any of it during this 2016 political campaign.
I am certain that Mars, Uranus and Eris are increasing the psychic irritation the voters feel these days — the itches that are hard to scratch as well as the disruption caused by discomfort and dissatisfaction with the establishment. Both Reince Priebus on the Republican side and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz on the Democratic side are definitely being chafed from within, with intra-party challenges from the Teapublicans and the new Sanders Democrats.
In my heart of hearts, I feel good about the rumpuses. We’re watching the birth of something that has yet to fully form.
It’s healthy for both parties and for our democracy as long as it doesn’t get out of hand, and that we don’t fall and hurt ourselves in the process. Trump’s challenge is serving a hard slap, waking the Republican Party up; they’re paying the price for courting political nihilism in the form of the corporate-owned Tea Party.
Progressives’ dissatisfaction with the Democrats’ inability to strongly work the party back toward the left — and eschewing the party’s corporate interests — birthed the Sanders ‘revolution’. It’s making Democrats be Democrats again, which I think was the ultimate aim of Bernie Sanders candidacy all along.
Time will tell. It’s another sixty-five days before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia — an irony not lost on us: Philadelphia is the city that birthed the Declaration of Independence and was listless and uncomfortable with rumblings of a revolution against the crown. What will be wrought there this time? An expanded sense of unity or a new show of resistance? How fast can we grow out of the rumpus room without hurting ourselves?