Thursday, June 26, 2008

Good News on the Unity Front

The AFL-CIO officially endorsed Barack Obama yesterday, bringing another important progressive organization on board. In addition, new polling data shows that Democratic voters are beginning to come together. Less than three weeks after Hillary suspended her campaign, more than half of her supporters have decided to support Senator Obama, while nearly one in four are supporting Senator McCain.

The poll found 53 percent of the Democrats who favored Clinton for the nomination two months ago now backing Obama for president. That's an improvement from April, when only 40 percent of Clinton supporters said they would back Obama over McCain.


Twenty-three percent of Clinton's backers picked Republican John McCain over Obama. Of the rest, 16 percent were undecided, 5 percent were for independent candidate Ralph Nader and 3 percent said someone else.

Things are definitely headed in the right direction, and tomorrow’s joint appearance in Unity, NH should be beneficial. However, comments like this from Obama surrogate and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius are not helpful to the unity effort:

Sebelius also said she's not worried about McCain’s effort to woo women angry over Hillary Clinton's loss in the primaries.

"I think the notion that women who supported Hillary Clinton will honor her by voting for John McCain is really lunacy," she said. "There couldn't be a larger difference between what Hillary Clinton thinks is important and where John McCain is."

But Sebelius acknowledged that some of her own supporters who backed Clinton were upset with her for choosing Obama. Other Obama allies, such as Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, have faced a similar backlash.

"There are people who initially were quite unhappy," Sebelius said. "I'm sure that will be there for a while. All of us were torn."

The Obama skeptics are not lunatics. They are not bad Democrats. Their anger—and mine—is justified and nobody should take lightly the task of reaching out to these Democrats and bringing them on board. I have said this before and I will say it again. Democrats underestimate the task of uniting the party at their own peril. When Senator Obama said that we would “get over it” once we learned that Senator McCain was pro-life, he was sadly mistaken.

Many Clintonistas, the contributors at this blog, for example, lost some good friends when we jumped onto the Obama train. We made the jump because we felt it was the right thing to do and we are making efforts to reach out to other Clintonistas to bring them on board as well. Nobody should make light of this effort. There are people who are willing to come back, but they aren’t budging until Senator Obama and the DNC reaches out to them and takes their concerns seriously. Nobody expresses this better than my friend Alegre:

No one here has made a secret of the fact that we're pissed at the DNC for the way they pushed their chosen candidate on us, ignored the attacks on Hillary, and stole delegates from her and overrode the wishes of the voters in Michigan at that charade of an RBC meeting in May.

The DNC's trying to play down this anger and the media are ignoring it altogether. But it's there and the DNC ignores this anger at their own peril. They and Obama need to take some serious steps now to start to repair that damage.

First step is to stop disrespecting Hillary at every turn.

So next time you get a funding appeal or call to action from the DNC, let them know why you won't be helping them out - and what it will take to win your support, your money, and your boots on the ground for them again.

And make sure you cc Howard Dean on the reply...

Seriously - they need to hear from us you guys. Don't let them cruise along thinking we'll "get over it" if they organize a few picnics or rallies.


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