Opposing worlds collided early Monday afternoon in a burning hot and lightly used FDR Park in South Philadelphia, directly across Broad from the Wells Fargo Center, where a coronation is expected.

There was a folk trio under a tree starting a hootenanny and about a dozen religious extremists from the Westboro Baptist Church, America's ISIS.
In their version of Christianity, the peaceful protesters milling around the park were "dope-smoking hippies, fags, lesbians …"

A line of Civil Affairs cops stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the Baptists, offering protection to the only group that might have needed it.

About 30 yards away the musicians played The Beatles' "Revolution," as a few dozen people sang along.

When the Baptists got louder, the trio switched to John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance."

One of the less musically attuned audience members asked, "Is that the Rolling Stones?"


I had gone to the park for a dramatic performance called "The Mock Trial of Hillary Clinton."

I was curious to see how closely it adhered to the "indictment" laid out by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the Republican National Convention.

Turns out the drama was rescheduled for Tuesday and there's been minor problems with protests being moved or rescheduled.

So while most other Philadelphians were hard at work, and Democrats were fighting a simmering civil war that resulted in the banishment of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, I decided to spend a few hours in the park.

I was carrying a shoulder bag, but John Jarecki was carrying Bernie Sanders on his shoulders. Well, a papier-mâché version of his leader.

The 38-year-old union insulator drove 20 hours from Omaha, Neb., to make his "last grasp" in favor of Bernie, from whom he had worked hard for a year and a half. His wife was taking care of the kids at home. "She couldn't say no. I had to do this."

In November, he says he will "vote for a progressive, at the moment, Jill Stein" of the Green Party.

Everyone I spoke to was a Berner, except for Robert Fioravanti, 45, who became a Republican in 2014. He lives with his parents in Bucks County and doesn't have a job.

What brought him to the Democrats' convention?

"I am an American and I want to take part in what goes on."

He said he doesn't blame anyone for his jobless situation. "I rely on the man upstairs."

He was talking with Tony Camargo, 26, from Long Island, who's studying to be an EKG technician.

"I was a Bernie supporter, I am a Bernie supporter, I'm here to show solidarity with Bernie and Bernie's delegates."

He said he always suspected elections were rigged and now he's sure of it. "I'm not sure if me being here will mean anything, but there's no harm in trying."

Camargo said he became a Democrat in 2008, voted for Obama twice but when he tried to vote for Bernie this year, he found "I was among the thousands of voters purged from the rolls."

He was "shut out of the process and that destroyed my morale."

Yes, he said, he knows Bernie is supporting Hillary, "but I don't know if I can hack that."

He feels disappointed and let down and wants to see if Hillary can walk the progressive walk as well as talking the progressive talk, but he doubts it. "She talks change, but acts status quo."

Patricia Hawkins, 55, an independent in her home of Belmont, Mass., is "damn sure this election was stolen," and will write in Bernie's name or vote for the Green Party's Jill Stein.

A Bryn Mawr grad, Hawkins is crashing with Don Weightman, 66, in his Germantown home. A long-time climate change activist, he voted for Bernie in the primary and will vote for Hillary in November "with a lack of enthusiasm."

In chatting with other Berners, I saw emotions ranging from hope-against-hope that (somehow) they still can vote for Bernie, to a walking dead cynicism that the cake is baked, they had their run, and the ship of their revolution had hit the rocks of the Clinton cliff.

Last week I heard a lot about the darkness and despair surrounding the Republican convention.

The Democrats will try selling optimism at their convention, but the hard-core Berners are not ready to buy.