This is complicated, even for woodchucks, so if you wanted a sound-bite answer go back to whatever you were doing before you started reading.
Bernie Sanders personally asked his delegates not to do this but many of them did it anyway. There was no grand plan but there were many little plans. Some delegates told other they would walk out and suggested that we should all walk out. Other delegates reminded them that Bernie Sanders has asked us not to.
I personally expected that some delegates would walk out and that they would hardly be noticed; that people watching them go would think that they were going to the restroom, visiting a charging station, stretching their legs or getting something to eat. This is what we were told would be the effect of a walk out … that our absence not even be noticed … that our seats would be quickly filled by others who were on standby for just such a moment.
When it happened it caught me off guard. I noticed the departure of a few delegates who I expected to walk out but my attention was not on the delegates it was on the convention speaker. Then it hit me how many empty seats there were in front of me, behind me and everywhere.
Suddenly there was a reporter asking me if I was a Bernie delegate. I asked, “Why, are you having a hard time finding one?” She and I laughed.
I carpooled to the convention so I was quite concerned by the absence of my fellow delegates from the carpool. I wondered if I would be walking home.
I spotted one of my carpool delegates returning to her seat and that gave me a little comfort. Then another returned. He told me later that he had gone to the restroom and didn’t know there was a walk out until he came out of the restroom and saw the delegates crowding their way to the doors.
Two other delegates had gone off the floor to distribute some material about election integrity but they never intended to leave the convention in protest. My carpool delegates are still here and getting home isn’t going to be a problem.
Not all of the delegates that left were Bernie delegates. The nomination of Hillary Clinton was the key moment that many Clinton delegates were there to see. Once she was nominated, many of them left their seats to do other things as well.
That all being said, well over half of the Bernie delegation did in fact walk out and I believe most of them had not made the decision to do so until that very moment when they saw others who had predetermined to walk out leaving their seats.
None of this answers the question, “Why did Sanders’ delegates walk out after the nomination of Hillary Clinton?”
Sanders promised us a roll call vote and the Clinton delegation cooperated with the Sanders delegation in making sure that every delegate had an opportunity to have their vote counted and placed on the record. Having your vote counted is very important. It doesn’t make loosing easier but it eliminates one objection to defeat and moves a person closer to acceptance.
While many of the caucuses and primaries were well managed, many more were not. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of voters did NOT get to have their vote counted in mismanaged caucuses and primaries. Many delegates feel that if not for these election irregularities Bernie Sanders would have brought more delegates to the convention; maybe even enough to have won the nomination.
Let’s not imagine every Sanders delegate feels the same way about these “irregularities”. Some are convinced that the better word would be “fraud”. Some are looking for answers through courtroom challenges and others through statutory reform. But nearly every Sanders delegate agrees that clean, fair and transparent elections are important AND that there were MANY irregularities in the management of 2016 caucuses and primaries.
I did NOT walk out but I refuse to say that those who did were wrong. They are desperately calling attention to issues that are very important. And even though we may be taking different paths to get there, our goal of making sure that every vote is counted is the same. I cannot for the life of me understand why every Democrat is not in some way supportive of the goal.
This woodchuck whistles.