PHILADELPHIA — On the front of the Liberty Bell, few out of millions notice the archaic spelling of “Pensylvania,” typically spelled with two N’s. And I feel just as sly strolling through the city, a conservative hiding in plain sight, right under the nose of all the Democrats in town for their convention. An anomaly camouflaged by colossal convention crowds. This is my first time at a Democratic National Convention. They hardly notice me. They have enough on their proverbial plate as it is.
While the DNC was busy rearranging its starting lineup and struggling to keep Bernie Sanders fans from staging a walkout, I made myself at home in Philly. And, it turns out, I should have bought stock in Uber. I mean no disrespect to the fine people of Philadelphia; I have no interest in offending a group of people who booed Santa Claus and pelted him with snowballs. But the truth is that events are sprinkled far and wide through the city, and the logistics of navigating the security cordons surrounding the Wells Fargo Center are dramatically more difficult than anything we encountered in Cleveland.
But the wait is almost always worth it, and I wear my anonymity like a comfy T-shirt. “The best fame,” Fran Lebowitz said, “is a writer’s fame.” This seems to be true in Philadelphia. Conservative Sean Hannity may or may not have been booed out of a Wawa in the City of Brotherly Love, but nobody raised an eyebrow when I stopped in at Pat’s for a cheesesteak (and not a single eye was batted when I burned off a few extra calories running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art).
It’s not that I’m afraid of being outed as a red meat-devouring card-carrying Reaganite. So far, my only run-ins with liberals have been pleasant. What is more, I’m not the only one spending this week in exile. (The Republican National Committee has held a few counterprogramming press conferences at an arena that is perhaps appropriately known for hosting boxing and wrestling events. Trump’s campaign guru Paul Manafort was at one such event; Omarosa of “The Apprentice” was at another, offering her foreign policy expertise.)
The truth is that the internecine skirmishes are often more heated than the partisan ones. After all, I’m not the one who leaked emails, nor am I the one who rigged the system against Bernie Sanders.
It turns out that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has more to fear from Philly than anyone like me (or Hannity).
A side benefit has been that my trip to Philadelphia has helped me fend off a looming identity crisis that so many conservatives have felt in the era of Donald Trump. Trump may not be my idea of a dream candidate, but nothing reassures the mind that the Democratic Party isn’t for you than spending time with Democrats. Again, no offense intended here. But it’s good to be reminded of just how liberal the party has become since the last Clinton was nominated back in 1992. (Bill Clinton would, of course, ultimately pronounce “the era of big government” over. Today’s Democratic Party seems unlikely to yield a centrist presidency.)
Getting an up-close view of some of the “Bernie or Bust” folks has also helped. I’m not suggesting that both sides don’t have their fair share of activists on the fringe, but some of these kids need to lay off the hashish.
Despite some optimistic rhetoric, and the obvious fact that Democrats made real history in nominating the first major-party female candidate, I will depart the Keystone State more secure in my conservative philosophy than when I arrived.
When the gavel falls on Thursday night, I will slip out of town, unnoticed and unbowed. I’ll be fighting traffic, not Bernie Bros. If they go low, I will go high. No one will care that I’m not with her.
Roll Call columnist Matt K. Lewis is a Senior Contributor to the Daily Caller and author of the book “Too Dumb to Fail.” Follow him on Twitter @MattKLewis