As the old saw goes, all politics is local -- and that's true even when it comes to this week's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Joining Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, First Lady Michelle Obama and about 4,700 convention delegates was one of Mountain View's own politicians, City Councilman Lenny Siegel, who said he considered himself lucky to land a spot at the event.
In May, Siegel ran in the local 18th Congressional District party caucus to be a delegate for Sanders, but he fell just short of making it into the group picked to go to the convention. But as it turned out, about 60 delegate spots were saved for elected officials, and Siegel was able to nab one.
"I was helped by the fact that there weren't that many elected officials who came out for Bernie," Siegel told the Voice Tuesday afternoon from a hotel room he was sharing with a Foster City councilman.
At the start of the convention, the California delegation for Sanders singled itself out as one of the rowdiest. At a breakfast event on Monday, July 25, the group disrupted speeches by Reps. Mike Honda, Barbara Lee and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The thrust of their protest was they weren't ready to embrace Clinton as the party's nominee, and to a degree, Siegel said he shared their frustrations.
During the first day's schedule, speaker after speaker felt like one long "infomercial" for Clinton, Siegel said. Sitting stage-right in the main auditorium, the California delegation could easily see the teleprompter for each speaker, and pretty much every one of them stayed on script with their remarks.
"The whole thing was trying to make everyone feel good about Hillary," he said. "That made me uncomfortable because the vote hadn't even been counted yet."
Nevertheless, Siegel said he was confident that the Sanders group would eventually come around and unite behind Clinton as their party's standard-bearer. The takeaway lesson, Siegel said, was that political power was ultimately about organization, and if the Sanders coalition wanted to see its platform adopted by Clinton then it needed to "rebuild the party from the ground up" and help elect candidates for federal, state and local government.
At the convention, it was clear that the Democratic party is a big tent of diverse groups, and that meant a lot of differences were playing out, Siegel said.
"I'm with Will Rogers on this one: 'I don't belong to an organized party, I'm a Democrat,'" Siegel said, repeating the humorist's famous quote.