PHILADELPHIA — A black permanent marker is the new symbol of freedom for Dylan Hooser and he said the message that comes with it is one he won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
The Kauai delegate to the Democratic National Convention and outspoken Bernie Sanders supporter said security didn’t allow him to bring the signs he wanted to wave into the building on Tuesday.
His freedom of speech, however, was defended by a fellow delegate — a Hillary Clinton supporter — who saved the day with a Sharpie.
“She said, ‘You do your thing, brother, you go on and get it’ and I love her for that,” Hooser said. “That Sharpie meant so much to me. It was the olive branch of peace.”
With that permanent marker, Hooser and his crowd of Sanders supporters modified the signs they were allowed to bring into the DNC.
Hooser said the group “got creative” with messages of rising together to support the political progress that’s been made within the party.
He said while many at the DNC were touting unity, the act of a Clinton supporter ensuring the free speech rights of a Sanders supporter was a monumental.
“It’s not about unity,” Hooser said. “It’s about respect and patience with each other. That pen represented my voice and she respected my voice.”
Through a roll call vote on Tuesday, the delegates to the DNC cast their votes for the party’s presidential candidate and South Dakota sent Clinton across the 2,382 delegate threshold needed to win the nomination.
In the end, Clinton received 2,842 votes and Sanders received 1,865 votes.
Hooser said he voted for Sanders as the Democratic candidate, and was honored to be part of the roll call system.
“I was elected from the congressional district to represent those people, and those people feel probably even more strongly about Bernie than I do,” Hooser said. “I had to give them their opportunity too, and for me it was a big thing that they allowed us to do the roll call vote.”
He said for many of the first time attendees to the DNC, himself included, the DNC was confusing when it came to the logistics.
“I think the DNC could have done a better job of explaining the process,” Hooser said. “A lot of us are new to this.”
Though Hooser’s candidate choice didn’t pan out, he said “it’s not time to abandon ship.”
“Now it’s time to listen and learn and bring back what we can for the community,” Hooser said. “We’ve got momentum and progress.”
He said he’s been thrilled to see the increase in participation in politics, especially in Hawaii, and it “shows how effective Bernie has been.”
He hopes to see that participation hold strong, even though Sanders is out of the race.
“It’s about getting people involved,” Hooser said. “It’s time to bring back our progressive values and make change in our home state.”