PHILADELPHIA — It was a simple lesson in resolving political differences.
State Sen. John Matthews of Bowman, South Carolina, was talking about the struggle to bring unity to the Democratic Party — his party and the party holding its nominating convention this week in the City of Brotherly Love.
Matthews was talking about the difference between disagreement and division. The Democratic National Convention was to be historic — affirming the nomination of Hillary Clinton as the country’s first woman to run for president.
Clinton was nominated Tuesday night, climaxed by the last vote coming from Vermont, the home state of Clinton’s relentless challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders. In yet another attempt by Sanders to convince his supporters to get behind the party’s candidate, Sanders asked that she be nominated by acclamation. The motion was loudly approved and it seemed like the road to unity would have a lot of travelers.
But right after the vote, Sanders’ supporters left their seats and many never returned to participate in the convention celebration. Not even with Pharrell’s “Happy” blaring over the speakers, the bulk of Sanders’ delegates were unhappy.
Sanders had done his best to convince his people to put aside their differences and support Clinton. He had endorsed Clinton and he spoke to the crowd Monday night, giving an impassioned speech on why Democrats need to vote Democratic and reduce “the risk” of a Donald Trump presidency.
So Sen. Matthews explained the difference between disagreement and division.
“My wife passed on last year,” he said. “We were married for 54 years and during that time, well, let’s say we had a lot of disagreements. But we never had any division.”
Matthews said, just like a married couple, there sometimes will be disagreement in the Democratic Party.
“But we should never let that disagreement lead to division,” he said.
But, as many Democrats have said, a lot of work — fence mending, issue negotiating, heart-to-heart talking — needs to be done as the campaign now kicks into high gear toward the Nov. 8 General Election.
The first two days in Philadelphia have been filled with protests, rallies and parades that focused on Sanders and his progressive agenda and rallied against Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. On the first night of the convention, some 30 protesters were arrested outside the Wells Fargo Center.
Sen. Matthews said his state, South Carolina, needs Clinton in the White House. He said federal dollars are needed to address critical issues.
“We have a major infrastructure problem,” Matthews said. “Our roads and highways are in need of extensive repair.”
Matthews said federal funding is also needed for K-12 education to teach South Carolina children the skills needed to compete in the 21st century economy.
And more federal dollars are needed to protect the South Carolina environment, Matthews said.
“With Hillary Clinton as president, I am confident that those three issues — education, economy, environment — will be addressed and that will make a positive difference in South Carolina,” Matthews said.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.