- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 2016

PHILADELPHIA — Pundits have dubbed it the year of the political outsider, but judging by the lineup of speakers at their national convention this week, Democrats aren’t worried about being insiders.

While Republicans kept career politicians to a minimum at their convention, out of choice and necessity, Democrats are countering with a speaker’s list laden with the party’s power-brokers, longtime Washington insiders and big-state governors.

Nearly 50 sitting governors and members of Congress are slated to speak from the stage during the four-day convention — outnumbering the 18 senators, governors and House members who addressed the Republicans.

The political bigwigs will be joined by the top names from labor unions, pro-choice groups, gay rights and environmental movements, civil rights leaders, an immigrant Dreamer and more.

Democrats said the decision to host insiders was intended to highlight the difference between their establishment’s acceptance of presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the Republican Party establishment’s wariness of its nominee, Donald Trump.

“The Democratic convention will showcase enormously popular national leaders, rising stars from across the country and a diverse range of everyday Americans who will inspire the nation,” the Democratic National Committee said in announcing its lineup.

Republicans, though, said Democrats are making a mistake by going so political.

“I don’t think the people at home want to see a bunch of people from Washington, D.C., get up there and tell them why the same old, same old is going to do better this time,” said Sean Spicer, a senior adviser to the Republican National Committee.

He said the ascendance of Mr. Trump within the Republican Party and Sen. Bernard Sanders, an insurgent who forced Mrs. Clinton to battle all the way to the end of the Democratic primary calendar, shows voters in both parties want an outsider this year.

Indeed, Democrats were reeling over the weekend by news that DNC officials put their thumb on the scale in favor of Mrs. Clinton during the primaries.

While Mrs. Clinton has enough delegate votes to be the nominee, Sanders supporters were considering attempting to derail her pick of Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, as vice presidential nominee.

Each of the four convention nights has a theme showcasing the unity that the party has been able to achieve in recent years.

Groups with seemingly divergent interests, such as labor unions and environmentalists, or labor unions and advocates for illegal immigrants, have managed to coexist, helping President Obama win two elections.

Monday’s theme is “United together,” with Mr. Sanders and first lady Michelle Obama headlining.

Tuesday features former President Bill Clinton and a theme of “A lifetime of fighting for children and families.”

Wednesday’s theme is “Working together,” featuring Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

Thursday is dubbed “Stronger together” and will be capped by Mrs. Clinton’s acceptance of the party’s nomination.

On Monday, the convention will hear from Astrid Silva, a Dreamer who lives and works in Nevada thanks to Mr. Obama’s 2012 deportation amnesty. The immigrant is following in the footsteps of another Dreamer, Benita Veliz, who spoke at the Democratic convention four years ago.

“Astrid’s story is the story of the new American electorate — a story that Republicans, in Nevada in particular, can ignore at their own peril,” said Viridiana Vidal, director of immigrant rights group Nevada’s Voice.

Hosting Ms. Silva provides Democrats with a stark contrast to Republicans, who at their convention instead heard from parents whose children had been killed by illegal immigrants.

Republicans did make history for their party by having an openly gay speaker, a tech entrepreneur, address them last week. But gay rights supporters were fuming.

“This is just one more issue and one more group where Trump has zero credibility,” said Democratic strategist Craig Varoga. “In one breath, he claims to be reaching out to LGBT voters, and in the next breath he’s in favor of appointing federal judges who would overrule the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage and he’s endorsing federal legislation that would allow discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans.”

He noted that the platform adopted at the Republican convention in Cleveland opposed same-sex marriage and gay adoption, and called it “the most discriminatory party platform in American history” in regard to gays.

“One more important constituency to join Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, women and prisoners of war, to name only a few, to be attacked by Trump and then to have him claim falsely that he wants their votes in November,” said Mr. Varoga.

Democrats will feature the first transgender speaker, Sarah McBride. The press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign is slated for Thursday’s session.

“Sarah’s inclusion in Thursday’s program is a significant milestone for our community, and it sends a strong message that transgender people, and their voices matter,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, who will also speak.

He said the Democratic National Convention “will underscore the stark contrast between Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine’s vision for a more equal America and Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s agenda of hate and division.”

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