Open Letter to Hillary Clinton Supporters and PUMA

Dear Clinton Supporters Who Oppose the Party Nominee,

The primary was bitterly fought.  But the candidates, policy wise, are vastly more similar than Clinton is to say, John McCain.  And experience, the trumpet call of the Clintonistas, isn’t quite the issue its being made out to be (XX-Factor, emphasis mine):

I answered her that the experience issue doesn’t resonate with me, especially as Cheney and Rummy had been around since the last ice age, and where did that get us? Hillary has been in the Senate only four years longer than Obama: big whoop. If you count his time in the Illinois Senate, he’s actually had more experience as an elected official. (And while of course her experience as first lady counts for something, would we give Laura Bush full credit for those years—even though, as she belatedly tells us, she, too, had a big policy role all along?) The whole experience question just feels like a stand-in for race, or maybe something else I’m missing. Because when someone says they would slit their wrist before voting for Obama, that is NOT about Clinton having been in the Senate longer.

PUMA stands for Party Unity My Ass.  Its quite catchy, and the logo works well.  Its just that the sentiment underneath it all is rotten, and the effect it will have will go directly against the people holding up the banner.  Letting McCain win this election is a mistake that comes with a dreadful cost.  Another term of NeoConservative Power in our highest office puts our courts, our rights, our economy and our security at risk.

But I wanted to speak especially to riverdaughter, about her post.  I like your blog, I identify with your politics.  But rather than pulling together to fight a man who stands against everything you stand for, you’ve engaged in the politics of personal destruction, and aimed your rhetorical heat ray at Obama supporters:

I’d like to refer you to one of Anglachel’s latest posts, The Idea of Obama. I think that what Anglachel is describing is a kind of “puppy love” or an infatuation. The situation we have here is precisely the reason why superdelegates were created in the first place. There is a unacknowledged immaturity about the Obama faction that many parents among us will recognize.

Like adolescents, they insist on making their own decisions and yet expect us to get them out of a jam later. They hate us because of who we are and yet they need us in order for them to get what they want. And the superdelegates are the too permissive parents who are giving in to them because they can’t handle the screaming and guilt trips that will follow if they don’t.

There is nothing adolescent about my decision to support Barack Obama for President.  It is not an emotional whine by an infatuated child.  It is a reasoned choice based on my assessment of the candidate’s positions, electability, skill, character, and strength.  And I am not alone in that:

It is an insulting tact to take.

The fact is Obama won the most delegates.  That counting Michigan and Florida never should have been contentious.  Obama didn’t campaign there, so the only option would have either been a new primary or no dice, not some compromise allowing a false election to go forward and benefit the only candidate who didn’t play ball.  Hillary Clinton lost.  But her policies don’t have to.

Obama is not a perfect candidate, but he is a strong candidate.  I like him because his policies are largely within the range of what I support, because he has the good sense to surround himself with smart people and listen to them.  This is most evident when you look his support among (and reliance on) economists.  This is why the whole “We’ve had an inexperienced politician before” argument, a clear reference to Bush, always fell utterly flat.  Obama isn’t going to get into office and force his authoritarian politics onto this country.  He’s going to do his best to open it up and encourage people to step up and take advantage of it.  I can easily stand behind a guy who represents a movement towards democracy, not a cowardly retreat towards the status quo.

And please don’t mistake that for idealism.  It is a somewhat cranky pragmatism born of experience.  The status quo right now is all about various elites working in a non transparent environment, and we only get to consume the product.  Thats not government, that’s business.

For a government to truly be by the people, we need more transparency, more reform, and more efforts to build up and organize people.  And on every single issue stemming from this, Obama is on the right side of the debate with McCain in direct opposition.

The media is building a false narrative that Hillary Clinton helped begin (Telegraph):

But to most Americans – the ones who are less beguiled by rhetoric and more concerned with financial survival, and those who need practical reassurance more than inspiration – this election will be about proven character and tested judgment.

John McCain is a terrible choice, and infinitely inferior to Obama when it comes to the economy.  As for proven character and tested judgement, we need look no further (but we can and should) than issues like the war, civil rights, or separation of church and state.  On every one of these issues McCain has given up principle in favor of appeal to the most twisted branch of the Republican party.  On everyone of these issues Barack Obama has stood firmly and proudly.

I began this election cycle supporting John Edwards.  Right now I am supporting a man who I believe can and should win, against a man who should never see elected office again.  This is a fight whose consequences will be felt.  I invite you warmly to join in.  Help us avoid another four years of Bush, and help us find eight years of competence, compassion and wisdom.

Even if this is just a baby step forward, we’ll need every muscle in the Democratic body to avoid being forced to take a giant step backwards.

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6 Responses

  1. Obama and Clinton worked closely in the Senate and cosponsored several of each other’s bills. The difference between them is shades of approach and firmness. They do NOT have radically different policies. They are not apples and oranges, they are apples and other kinds of apples.

    This idea that people who supported one simply cannot stomach the “policies” or “fundamental principles” of the other is absolutely ridiculous. I can understand arguments based off of people they’ve chosen as advisors, potential VPs, or other such things. But as you’ve already pointed out they are similarly equipped in terms of background (law school) and experience.

    Obama is younger, Obama is black, and Obama isn’t a Clinton. Regardless of what most people say, I think those things truly do play a large role in their not wishing to support him.

  2. HRC and BO are two strong, equally ambitious, competitive politicians w/different strengths and weaknesses. For starters, I am planning to vote with my conscience in November (Green). Perhaps I am too idealistic and didn’t appreciate the dirty, manipulative tactics, and the distortion of each other’s records out of political expediency. Examples: BO ‘s characterization of HRC’s vote on Iraq as “Bush-Cheney lite” (does that mean that John Kerry, who voted the same way, is also a Republican?), or HRC accusing BO of being “elitist” and “out of touch.”

    I also didn[t appreciate the pressure put on HRC to get out of the race since January. Nobody else in the history of political primaries has been pressured like that. SHe was treated almost like an “illegitimate” candidate or “uninvited” guest. There is not democracy in the Democratic party. And the super-delegates are a joke. Who in the @*#! are they? All puppets who respond to the best bidder.

    That’s why I AM OUT OF THE UNDEMOCRATIC PARTY!! Good riddance!!!

  3. Lindsey,
    I’m not really sure why it is Hillary Clinton supporters are so vehemently against Barack Obama. The other way around, it was her conduct on the war and support of fake Democrats that alienated me more than anything else. I’ve grown tired of the same old lay down and die strategy the Democrats have been employed tirelessly since 2000. Perhaps its just a struggle between those who prefer the Democratic party be run by people with those same well aged ideas, and those who prefer it try winning. Perhaps the bitterness comes from their own perceived loss of power. If that is the case, it is more than understandable.

    Grace,
    HRC’s vote on Iraq was a very poor choice. But frankly, it was how she reacted to that vote that got me riled. She first stuck with it even when other Democrats realized what was going on and backed down. She treated the opinion of the people she was elected to represent with scorn. That is what made me dislike her. She’s no Republican, nor is John Kerry, but both have at times ignored what their constituents wanted to pursue a more conservative course. This is something to oppose when any politician pulls it. Hillary and Obama supported Lieberman’s primary run, and I feel that was a huge mistake (even though both corrected it and supported the party nominee). But that one mistake isn’t enough to keep me from doing my utmost to keep John McCain from office.

    There has been plenty of pressure for people to drop out. Its been on Kucinich from the get go. It was on Ron Paul from the get go. And it dropped onto Huckabee too. The difference was in how each responded. With Hillary Clinton, she was *just this close* to winning, and hung in longer. Kucinich and Ron Paul both lost by large enough margins it didn’t matter. Ditto Huckabee.

    (I agree that super delegates are a terrible idea).

    I voted green in 2000. I was in a state Gore won handily, and we got the percent of voters needed to be recognized in Massachusetts. But I would never have risked it had I lived in a battleground state. I live in one now. And I will not let this country suffer another 4 years of Bush. Not while I can fight.

    And the thing is, in spite of the definite signs of centrist mushy politician (he is like Clinton after all), Obama has elements of sincerity, skill, and backbone that the country needs in a politician. He attracts loads of supporters, many new to politics. This is not an accident. He excites people to action, he’s electric. That’s a great quality to have, alongside the rest, in a President.

    I’m voting against McCain, but I’m also voting for Obama.

  4. I can understand when people point to specific things, such as Obama making concessions on behalf of the insurance industry in order to get bills passed. They argue that Obama sacrifices ideals for the sake of getting votes. Okay, I can understand that just as well as I understand when Obama supporters say they couldn’t support Hillary because she tends to interpret laws by convenience instead of precedence. Okay, that makes sense. But so many arguments have nothing to do with the valid differences between them. They are just noise!

  5. Obama has coasted towards the nomination on the strength of a biased, activist media, unrepresentative caucases and the arcane DNC rules. With all that, Hillary still garnered a huge amount of votes. She was still winning big in the end and where she lost it was not by as much as the pundits predicted.

    She did not lose, she was bullied out of he race. If Obama had been treated this way, Obamites would be up in arms as well.
    I have been a lifelong Democrat who has never missed a vote. I have also never witness such a public lynching of a woman who has dedicated her life to public service. As a black woman, I wanted very much to support Obama, but I CANNOT see any substance there and this is not a popularity contest.

    For me, the DNC Rules Committee hearings was absolutely the last straw. It was pure theater with Donna Brazile (and others) parading as “undecided” super-delegates. How ludicrous when she has been speaking as a pundit on Obama’s behalf for months! Then she had the AUDACITY to call seating MI and FL delegates “cheating” while giving the “presumptive nominee” delegates he did not win?

    I and millions of others were offended by this. To me that was a real wake up all that the party has entered a real Marie Antoinette state of denial.

    I mentioned it here for this reason: Those of us we will not vote for Obama this November have been accused of jeopardizing Roe vs Wade and working against our own principles. The DNC rule meeting illustrated that the Democratic Party is corrupt and gives only lip service to fundamental principles. Anytime the sanctity of the vote is undermined, anytime obvious voter trends are completely ignored, anytime the most viable candidate is kicked aside in favor of one the party elite prefer—then the very foundation underlying all we “espouse” is gone.

    Now the DP has the AUDACITY to launch a “grass roots” initiative. Do they really think people will forget how this nominee was selected? Can they really believe that Clinton supporters will forget how their candidate was treated and how they themselves were depicted (e.g. a racist, uneducated blue collar, bitchy women etc.)

    As a black Kentuckian, let me tell you: the Clinton supporters are far more diverse a group than the press would have you believe. Some of us will support Obama in November. But I and MANY others will not because we do not think he is the best candidate. He speaks beautifully but does not measure up to Clinton (and McCain) in terms of experience. His “blueprint” is a rehash of ideas others have been epousing for years. They are good ideas–just not new. Nor are his campaign tactics. Belittling your opponents accomplishments, backroom deals with the DNC rules committee are not the change politics he espouses. Lastly, his im to bring Americans seem pretty far-fatched, considering the state of his own party.

    The Emperor has no clothes, folks. If that doesn’t register for you or you simply don’t agree. That is fine. Vote as you will. But please respect those who prefer not to be bullied, frightened or shamed into voting for a candidate that has been anointed—rather than elected. Democracy requires vigilance and participation. Recognizing that your party has derailed and voting accordingly–even if in opposition– is the most democratic act–which is not with historic precedent…….hmmmm, what happened to those Whigs anyway?

  6. I can understand the frustration and anger among Clinton supporters. Many PUMAs contend that Obama got a free pass by the media. In fact, the press has been very harsh to Hillary. There was rampant sexsm, mischaracterization, and vilification of her positions and her personally. And a completely revolting hatchet job on Bill Clinton. This is the same media, after all, that fell all over itself to tear down Bill Clinton during Whitewater and the Lewinsky scandals. And the media knows that if they do a story trashing Bill and Hillary Clinton, then they get lots of readers. It’s the tabloid smear journalism that’s become a norm lately. You only need to go back to September 26, 2006 to see a preview of what would happen in this campaign cycle, as Chris Wallace goes straight for Bill Clinton’s jugular, attempting to pin 9/11 on him, in an obvious, partisan attempt to skew the 2006 congressional elections (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,215397,00.html). This election cycle, the news media tore into Hillary and Bill like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and I can understand the anger.

    Now I understand the anger and frustration. I can see where Hillary supporters are fed up with the media, fed up with the DNC, fed up with politics. I can understand why a democrat from MI or FL won’t support the democratic nominee after the fiasco of the DNC. I get that. I don’t blame you. But I don’t understand why you’d vote for McCain. Is the GOP a better party? After all their failures, all their deficits in leadership, all their gross power-grabbing, and stomping on basic human rights, how can a democrat think of supporting that? This is the party that lied to us to get us into an unjust war, ran up oil prices so that we’re now paying $4 a gallon, did nothing while Americans died in New Orleans, allowed a congressman to get away with taking sexual advantage of minors, was thoroughly corrupted by lobbyists’ bribes, fired federal attornies who wouldn’t bring unfounded lawsuits against democrats who were running for reelection, denied basic human rights and tortured detainees at guantanamo bay, leaked CIA intelligence about an agent as payback against a war critic. This is not the solution. Not even close.

    I can understand how you want to abandon the DNC. I can understand the anger and frustration and feelings of violation by the mistakes of the democratic party. But I can never understand how you’d switch your vote to Republican. Not after what they have done to our beloved country these last eight years. No way. And maybe you can’t bring yourself to support the democrats this year, but please, don’t vote for the republicans. Vote Green or Reform or write in Hillary’s name, but don’t send the message that America wants more of the abuse and mismanagement and lies and scandals the republicans have given us these long eight years.

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