"Hell No DNC, We Won't Vote for Hillary!"
I heard this chant frequently outside the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July. As a high school reporter, I did not have press credentials for inside the Wells Fargo Center. But that didn't stop me and my friend Ricky from going to the site during the convention.
We reported on everything we could—that is, the protestors who, just as we, were not invited, and were forced to yell in hopes that the establishment would hear them.
I learned more outside the gates and behind the wall of police thant I could have inside. I see now that Trump's victory should have been clear in July. Protestors weren't really protesting issues; they were protesting the establishment.
My high school, Harriton High in Lower Merion Township, has a new television studio and a television club. I went to the convention as part of our effort to start our first year on a good note.
We decided we needed to establish ourselves as a serious and reputable source. When we spoke with protestors, we always tried to make ourselves seem like we belonged, just as Fox or MSNBC would.
I suppose that our interviews with society's most neglected people helped. One man thanked us for listening and told us that we were the only journalists who weren't biased.
We listened to disenfranchised voter after voter outside AT&T Station. Almost all supported Bernie Sanders. They were protesting what they viewed as Clinton's unfair nomination after details emerged during the WikiLeaks release.
Separately, I also interviewed delegates who were going to be voting on the nominee and platform.
Amanda Kruel, a Sanders delegate from Tennessee, told me that, "they assumed she (Clinton) was the nominee from the start," and that, "they've always been colluding against Sanders."
Chris Petersen, an Iowa delegate for Sanders, told me that he was "disgusted that this talk was going on."
This sentiment came up with every Sanders delegate I interviewed. As you might expect, Clinton delegates brushed it off as "30 years of propaganda against Clinton," with one even telling me that it was "a literal vast right-wing conspiracy."
Sanders supporters said claims of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" were enough to nix their vote for Clinton.
When the votes for nominee were counted, one of my clearest memories from the summer emerged. Sanders supporters took their "Bernie or Bust" signs, and started chanting, "Bust."
Whether or not third party candidates such as Stein or Gary Johnson swayed the elction is unclear. But it is clear they had some impact.
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote on Election Day, but lost key states and their electoral votes. Stein, for example, took 50,700 votes in the key state of Michigan, according to CNN's results page. Trump won the state by 11,612 votes.
I interviewed several protestors who echoed the same sentiment from the first two days of the DNC: "I don't care about throwing my vote away. Clinton's worse than Trump. In fact, one of the most interesting interviews we had was with a woman who told me that Trump can't get anything done. Everyone hates him! Clinton on the other hand has the connections, and she's going to push her conservative agenda, and it's going to pass."
These were Democrats, some of whom might have helped give Trump the election in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote on Election Day. Stein, for example, took 50,700 votes in the key state of Michigan. Trump won the state by 11,612 votes.
Clinton thought of these Sanders supporters as opponents of the primary, not the general election. But Clinton misunderstood their gripe. It wasn't a matter of everyone left of Clinton voting for her and everyone right of Trump voting for him.
So much of America ignored the left/right Democrat/Republican spectrum, in favor of a broader outsider/insider spectrum.
Clinton unified the outsiders against her. It didn't help when she claimed half of Trump's supporters as a 'basket of deplorables.'
While it could be blown off as outweighed by Trump's comments, the sentiment stuck—Clinton and the establishment won't listen to Americans who want change.
This frustration with the establishment showed up all the time during the DNC, with protestors shouting "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, the (DNC/Hillary/oligarchy) has got to go!"
On Election Day the disenfranchised and politically uninvolved Americans in Wisconsin and Michigan came together to oust the establishment in favor of another candidate who they believed would listen.
One day I hope to be president. I've come to realize that candidates need to understand and address pain felt by average Americans.
Clinton needed to get out of the comfortable confines of urban and suburban areas. She needed to invite DNC protestors inside, not solidify them as the outsiders who need to yell.
Blue-collar Americans decided they needed to rid themselves of the establishment. And "Hey Hey, Ho Ho" on January 20th, the establishment will go.
Ben Feldman is a junior at Harriton High School and lives in Gladwynne