A nonviolent convention

Andrea Juillerat-Olvera is an interpreter, advocate, activist, artist and scholar, who lives in the Reno area with her husband Ricardo Olvera.

As a life-long progressive and native Nevadan, it honestly pained me to read Sheila Leslie’s May 26 column (“Dueling conventions”).

There has been a lot of animosity during this primary season, and as an enthusiastic supporter of Bernie Sanders, no small amount of that negativity has been directed at me, and many of my friends. Bernie Sanders is not just a politician—he has become a symbol. His campaign is having a profound effect on many Americans, in that he gives voice to an enormous anger that has been building in the U.S. for a long time. We know that we’ve been had, lied to, cheated, ignored and marginalized by powers beyond our grasp. We know the system is broken, and the primaries are another glaring example of dysfunctional American democracy. Bernie Sanders represents an acknowledgment of that truth, which is why emotions run high. This is an ideological battle that cuts very deep.

No one threw any chairs at the Nevada convention. Had a chair been thrown, we would have seen it, and not just once, but replayed online endlessly, assisting in the further vilification of our group. But that didn’t happen, because no one threw a chair. In actuality, the crowd of thousands, who stood and heard their voices and votes being denied by people and parties who are supposed to care about democracy, could have rioted. They were angry; they had a right to be. But they did not riot. They were loud, vocal and stubborn, but at the end of the day, non-violent.

The attitude and actions of the Democratic Party affirm what many have felt all along—our voices and votes don’t matter.

We are throwing rocks at a tidal wave. We are screaming into a void.

This is the Democratic Party? They want us to shut up, go home?

They are too tired to count our votes?

Sanders supporters exist to pose a question to the Democratic Party at large.

“Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution?”

The party would do well to answer that question with grace, not contempt.

I know that Sheila Leslie is a good person, and has done a lot for the people of the State of Nevada, which is why it upsets me that she, and others like her, are spitting in the face of Nevada’s newly energized, progressive voter base. I hope that she will retract her statements and stop perpetuating these lies.