For decades, it’s been a disposable part of conventions, with no genuinely contested roll calls or candidates left who had not released their delegates. So it was fun this afternoon to hear the secretary intone those once magical syllables — AL-A-BAM-A, 60 Votes! — and know this is one year where the delegates were duly polled in both party conventions. In Philadelphia, the hall was full, the mood was festive, the non-germane boasts of the individual states were charmingly absurd (Minnesota, the home of Prince’s “Purple Rain!”), and yesterday’s miasma seemed to be all but dispelled.
Back in the day, of course, the Roll Call of the States would have been in prime-time after long nominating speeches and “spontaneous demonstrations.” Go back far enough and there was even doubt and drama surrounding the outcome.
To the delight of the Hillary Clinton campaign and convention managers, the only doubt and drama about this pleasant (if interminable) afternoon ritual was exactly what kind of unity gesture Bernie Sanders would make. Even before the roll call reached Vermont, several delegations took the therapeutic step of letting Sanders supporters announce the Sanders votes from their states. Most others announced his vote respectfully, and allowed time for cheers before moving on to their votes for “the next president of the United States.” It really seemed Democrats had finally all gotten the same memo.
That was certainly the impression when Vermont passed and went last so that Bernie Sanders could do what Hillary Clinton did in 2008 (albeit after every one of his votes was recorded), by moving to make the nomination unanimous. When the ayes and nays were called for by voice vote, for once the “ayes” were so loud that the “nays” could not be distinguished from them. And so ended a long and difficult nomination contest, with even the bitterest Bernie-or-Bust delegate participating, voluntarily or not, in a large moment of progressive political history.