PHILADELPHIA — For Noy Hadar, 41, protesting the Democratic National Convention outside City Hall, it's about the banks.
"I despise the banks," he says. “They get ahead and profit on the backs of the poor.”
He points to fees for bounced checks and being late on credit card payments — issues that mainly affect lower-income individuals and line the pockets of financial institutions.
“These guys are evil,” he says. Yet Hadar doesn't feel that the Democratic Party is doing enough to reign in the industry. That’s why he began to flirt with a radical idea: DemExit.
The concept became prominent, supporters say, earlier this month after Britons voted for Brexit and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton.
It’s the “evolution of Bernie or bust,” says Hadar, who runs a Bernie or Bust Facebook page with tens of thousands of likes. “If things don’t go favorably, we’re going to see a mass exit of liberals from the party,” he says. Perhaps to Jill Stein — hence the Green Party — or parts unknown.
The DNC was supposed to be the unity convention. Runner-up Sanders had already thrown his support to Clinton. A who’s-who speakers list includes all the party’s biggest names, from progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren to former President Bill Clinton and sitting President Barack Obama.
But leaked emails showing that some Democratic National Committee members favored Clinton over Sanders upended the scripted proceedings, seemingly confirming the idea that Sanders had been on the outside looking in the whole time.
Sanders' New York delegates came together in an overflowing hotel hallway on Monday morning to discuss plans for the week, and when Sanders spoke to his in the afternoon about supporting Clinton, some delegates of them booed.
As Sanders’ campaign recedes from the presidential race, one way to look at the intra-party fighting is that it’s less pro-Sanders than anti-Clinton, anti-Democratic establishment: an issue-based impulse that Sanders was able to corral into a movement.
Delegates and supporters extol Sanders’ unwavering values, but even more so they identify with those issues many feel are being ignored by the Democratic establishment. That includes stricter regulations on Wall Street, election reforms, a more pacifist outlook, and most of all, blocking the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sticking point in the party platform.
Clinton made concessions on some key Sanders issues leading up to his endorsement, including health care and public education. So maybe the party can bend in progressives’ direction.
But even those concessions have not entirely quieted Bernie or Bust supporters, many of whom queried on Monday said they would write in Sanders if it came to it, focus on down ballot candidates, vote Stein or even consider Republican nominee Donald Trump.
In their opening night convention speeches, progressive champions Sanders and Warren urged Democrats to come together against Trump and fight for progressive change. They reiterated their full support of Clinton, though on Monday night the arena remained tense and at times dividedt, with homemade Sanders signs and delegates starting rogue chants.
Sanders’ delegates are still debating how to use their influence at the convention, contemplating strategies including that include fights over platform planks and demonstrations of disapproval of Democratic orthodoxy — perhaps even a walkout from the hall.
And Sanders’ supporters inside and outside the arena will have to decide whether to come into the fold for Clinton or continue agitating.
If they do DemExit or splinter off entirely, they could end up losing their influence within a governing party. Or too much purity could cast them as spoilers in the general election.