With the United States embroiled in one of the most heated presidential elections to date, several Yalies have taken front-row seats at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions these past two weeks and rallied behind their respective presidential nominees.
On Tuesday, Sergio Lopez ’18 cast his vote for Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 as a delegate from California’s 18th Congressional District. Lopez arrived in Philadelphia Sunday and has enjoyed observing the convention closely from within.
Lopez said supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have protested, booed and made their displeasure heard throughout the week, but as the convention draws to a close Thursday, the focus has shifted to building a sense of community among the Democrats.
“The unifying theme of the convention is a much more hopeful and optimistic vision for America than what was expressed at the [Republican National Convention],” he said. “The main theme of the convention [tonight] is ‘stronger together,’ which sums up everything I’ve been saying.”
Howard Dean ’71, former governor of Vermont and chair of the Democratic National Convention from 2005 to 2009, is also among the convention’s attendees. Dean, a professor at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs who spoke in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, described the atmosphere as “upbeat” and “positive” and the convention as a drawn-out networking event for Democrats. Party and staff members are also busy working behind the scenes to elect Clinton in November, he said, noting that many Yale students and alumni have been heavily involved in the process.
“I don’t know the statistics, but my feeling is that Yale is the Ivy League school that’s more involved in public policy and politics than the others,” Dean said, recalling seeing his former student Jonathan Yang ’13, now the special assistant to the Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, earlier this week.
According to Dean, Sanders played an important role in bringing the party together. He acknowledged that there will always be a hardline contingent of Sanders’s supporters who will not vote for Clinton in November, but said the size of the group is small. Dean believes that Sanders has had a “huge hand” in shaping the optimistic atmosphere at the convention and rallying Democrats behind Clinton.
On the Republican side, nominee Donald Trump’s nomination last Wednesday remains controversial. From The New York Times reporting on “rebelling delegates” to the Washington Post on Trump’s “toxic brand of politics,” many Republicans remain skeptical of his presidential bid. In one particular flashpoint, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who lost the nomination to Trump, was booed off stage for failing to endorse his former rival.
But Emmy Reinwald ’17, a conservative who attended the Republican National Convention as a reporter for British news source The Tab, said convention attendees were enthusiastic about supporting Trump. She said the negative response toward Cruz was one of the few times she felt significant anger among the audience. Overall, she described the convention as largely pro-Trump, and said the majority of Republican delegates were excited about his nomination.
“Really, the only big surprise to me was that I thought there were going to be so many more protesters,” Reinwald said. “They had really hyped it up, and the Cleveland police were really preparing for it, but nothing actually turned to chaos like I expected.”
Despite feeling reluctant, Reinwald said she plans on voting for Trump in November.