PHILADELPHIA — Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York and longtime progressive activist, has had a busy week at the Democratic Convention. She’s spoken on panels about mental health and LGBT rights, and was seen supporting her husband, somewhat embattled New York mayor Bill de Blasio, as he addressed the convention yesterday.
We spoke about the “Bernie or Bust” movement, her longtime support for Hillary, and who her kids will end up voting for.
You were at the Democratic Convention in 2012. How does this compare?
Goodness. You know, all conventions are very upbeat, but this is particularly exhilarating for me and for so many others. People are all on the same page about getting the right person elected for president. And having Hillary as our candidate has just been so amazing, to watch her soar after decades of dedication and public service. I know how hard she works, I know how much she cares about people, and to see her finally have this moment is just, again, exhilarating.
A lot of the media coverage on your husband’s speech yesterday has been angled towards the idea that he was “snubbed” with an early time slot. Was that your perception of it as well?
[Laughs] No, no. Everyone can see how hard they work on getting this convention right. It’s an art, it’s a science, trying to build a groundswell of excitement and energy but tell a story at the same time, and also appeal to the people that they know will be watching—it’s just about trying to get the timing right.
When you spoke to Jezebel back in February, you were optimistic that Bernie’s supporters would eventually get behind the nominee. We’ve seen a lot of protests this week, quite a few angled around the promise to never vote for Hillary. One Bernie supporter told us he might vote for Trump—
Do you still believe that they’ll come around by November?
Look, there’s always going to be people on the margins. But I do believe that come November, most of us—independents, even, and some Republicans—are going to make the right choice. I mean, look at the other candidate. That’s not a responsible choice. The number one Bernie supporter, Bernie Sanders himself, my husband and I had a chance to sit down and talk with him; we’re all on the same page here. We’re all going to be working hard to get Hillary elected.
We came together to get this platform, and that’s what’s important. It’s not the person, it’s the future of our country, and we all have to be part of that. My kids are going to be voting for Hillary. They were Bernie supporters; they know what the responsible choice is. I was puzzled about this in the beginning, and I realized that as they get to know her history—which I think this convention is doing such a wonderful job of unfolding for people—they’re going to love her as much as we do.
I think at the same time, some people feel oversaturated with Hillary—she has been around for so long, and right now there’s a real push for the unfamiliar. One of my Uber drivers this week, for example, told me that he’s going to vote for Gary Johnson because he doesn’t know anything about him.
Oh, my goodness. Yeah, well, there’s an expression for that that I won’t use, but the unfamiliar can be very dangerous. All of the battles Hillary has taken on, she took on when they were not popular at all. I mean, no one was talking about the needs of children and families in 1992 the way she was, let me tell you.
I’m happy that I know so much about her. There is no perfection.