Byko: More Berners to Philly than Pope Francis pilgrims?

BYKO27
My daughter and her “Bern Unit” bus will be among possibly 1 million Bernie Sanders supporters here for the Democratic National Convention in July.

THE DAUGHTER SAYS she wants to visit in July.

"What can I get ready?" I ask.

Bail money, she jokes.

She's in Bernie's bag and is coming to visit her old Dad, but mainly to be outside the Wells Fargo Center to keep the Democratic National Convention fair, which is like keeping pro wrestling honest.

Sanders has promised(?), suggested(?), threatened(?) that the convention will be "messy" if he's shut out. What does that mean? In the committees? On the convention floor? On Broad Street? (Spoiler alert: It does not mean physical violence.)

The Daughter wants to know how close to the Center she can get her lemon-yellow 1982 Volkswagen minibus (the Bern Unit).

Moorestown, I tell her.

This disappoints her, as it was going to be filled with "supplies" for the other Berners. The supplies would not include axes and pitchforks. I am sure of it.

All Dad-like, I tell her - and she knows - I don't approve of violence. I believe she's nonviolent, but I can hear her jaws clench if I mention Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

You can have 100,000 peaceful protesters, I tell her, and 50 masked, bottle-throwing, fire-setting, window-breaking thugs can ruin it.

"We do have plans for all this," I am told by Billy Taylor, Philly head organizer for permits and logistics for Bernie. Taylor is more concerned about "infiltrators, counter-protesters and undercover cops."

Bernie supporters, Taylor says, "are peace-loving hippies" with "pain in the heart and fire in the belly." No Molotov cocktails.

If outside agitators - to revive a term from the civil-rights era - start trouble, Taylor says, "We have a plan: 18 people rushing to give him a hug."

Like a love bomb?

"No better place to show your Bernie love than in the City of Brotherly Love," says Taylor, who's from the Northeast.

Taylor suggests Bernie might draw more than Pope Francis, around 1 million for the two days he was here. The Daughter says 1 million Berners might be en route.

Imagine: 1 million with-parents-living, dope-smoking, free-college-wanting, Wall Street-hating, cop-despising people heading our way - every one of them needing a ride and a place to stay, I think. The Daughter (plus a friend) are covered by me.

Others will be covered, too. Taylor's trying to get the city to allow tents in South Philly's 348-acre FDR Park across from the Center. If the city let Occupy Philly set up next to City Hall, how can it say no to camping in FDR?

If the city turns thumbs-down (because the craven administration is in Hillary's purse), the Bernie people are asking a South Jersey farmer to allow camping. The campaign has buses coming in from California to move protesters. Bernie's Battalions are expected to protest Sunday, July 24, through Thursday July 28.

The Daughter thinks the Police Department has no idea how many disgruntled Berners might descend on Philadelphia, and I'm trying to steer away from locust imagery.

Cops handled the GOP convention in 2000, I tell her, and they can read social media. There are probably a dozen Facebook pages and sites where volunteers are being whipped up and plans are being laid for the July invasion and occupation of Philadelphia.

To find out who's running the police effort, I call the cops, who say the Secret Service is the lead agency and all requests for information go to the Mayor's Office a/k/a The Sinkhole.

I emailed a few basic questions to mayoral spokeswoman Lauren Hitt, who doesn't respond even though I pay her salary. If she won't do her job, why not donate her salary to fund pre-K?

The Daughter thinks the Berners will close the city down. She seems excited at the prospect.

I tell her the pope sealed off all of Center City. (Strictly speaking, the pope probably didn't approve of it, but it was done in his name.)

The Daughter is among disaffected Democrats who regard Clinton as an autocrat not worthy of her vote.

Will she jump to Trump? When pigs (like him) fly.

If Bernie gets jobbed at DNC, The Daughter - and many like her - will vote for the Green Party's Jill Stein.

"We have the potential to take 50, 60 percent of Democratic Party members and power" and deliver that to Stein, says a confident Taylor. The viability of a third party deserves its own column.

Back to The Daughter's visit.

Given that I'm a Dad, and a journalist, and someone who voted for Sanders in the primary, I ought to go with her, crawl inside the belly of the Bern Beast. Cover the protest from the inside.

I might do that, but I won't get love-bombed - and I will sleep at home, not in a tent.

stubyko@phillynews.com

215-854-5977 @StuBykofsky

Blog: ph.ly/Byko

Columns: ph.ly/StuBykofsky