Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thoughts on the Two Unities

I live on the other side of the planet, so my thoughts are coming a little later than everyone else’s. I watched the Youtube clip of the Clinton-Obama unity rally. Well, let me correct that. I watched the first 19 minutes.

My first thought was that they were both good actors or that the affection they shared was genuine. It was great seeing Hillary on stage and I loved it when she admonished the crowd for passing on the opportunity compliment her youth. I also enjoyed listening to her bash John McCain.

Some things I didn’t like included the crowd scream “Obama” during her speech and hearing her repeat Obama’s campaign slogans—“yes we can” and “change you can believe in.”

I liked that Senator Obama began by thanking Senator Clinton, but that was as much as I listened to. I haven’t been able to watch him give any kind of speech since his race speech in March. After he began speaking, I closed the tab and moved on to something else.

This event could not have been easy for Senator Clinton. As a Clintonista who remains loyal to Hillary, watching her give this speech was difficult. I know that rallying around the nominee is the right thing to do. I know it. It’s not easy, but it is the right decision. That’s what I keep telling myself. My head and the woman I admire so much are telling me to support the nominee and that's what I'm doing.

However, as "cute" as this event was, I didn’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling at the end (of course, I didn’t watch Obama’s speech, but that probably would have made me feel worse). For me, the event was a step backwards. The sight of Hillary on that stage saying “change we can believe in” made me sick. If she is going to go around the country campaigning for him, if she is going to send emails to her supporters asking us to support him, if she is going to ask her donors to donate to his campaign, if she is going to reach out and work for him, there needs to be reciprocation.

Barack Obama is the nominee. Under the rules of our party, he won fair and square and I accept his nomination as legitimate. However, it bears noting that he barely won. 49% of the Democratic primary voters voted against him. The day after the infamous Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) meeting, Hillary won Puerto Rico. The day he clinched the nomination, she won South Dakota. She is not an also-ran like Chris Dodd, who didn’t make it out of Iowa, or Bill Richardson, who dropped out after New Hampshire.

Unity is not going to be the Clintonistas burning their Hillary signs and opening up their wallets for Senator Obama. If Senator Obama wants to unite this party for the fall election and for governing the country as president, he needs to acknowledge that Hillary is a force in the party. He needs to include her and her supporters rather than demand submission. That means hiring her staff. That means asking his donors—all of his donors—to give money to her campaign. (Why should we open his wallet for him if his people won’t do it for her? Being the nominee is enough to get my vote, but not my money.) That means giving her a prominent role at the convention. That means no more bullshit reminders that she's not in charge (ie: the RBC meeting where he stole four of her Michigan delegates). Only if such concrete steps are taken will many of us feel invested in the nominee of the party.

There are some who think it’s not that important. Some people think that enough of us will "get over it" and vote for Obama that it isn't necessary to reach out to the Clintonistas. Some think we need to just shut up and go away. They love to quote polling data and projections from Electoral-vote.com.

But I would remind everyone that Bush had low approval ratings four years ago at this time. He was presiding over an unpopular war and he was on the verge of becoming the first president since Herbert Hoover to shed jobs on his watch. In 2004, even after the lessons of 2000, "anybody but Bush" was not enough to put Kerry over the top.

In 2008, we have an infinitely more talented nominee (no offense to Sen. Kerry), but we also face a GOP nominee who is more respected that George Bush. We have a huge financial advantage, but we face opponents that have tricks up their sleeves and decades of experience smearing Democrats.

I am very confident that Senator Obama is going to mop the floor with McCain this fall, but a united Democratic Party makes that task much easier. We don't need to have our butts kissed and nobody is expecting apologies for the rough campaign. What many of us expect is that we will be included rather than coerced.

7 comments:

atdnext said...

Drew-

I understand how you feel. Honestly, even I still have wounds that need to be healed. I flipped on MSNBC yesterday for the first time in MONTHS, and I was still enraged to see some of these pundits trash Hillary. All that old anger began springing out of me again.

But still, I'm at an Obama volunteer meeting right now. Why? While I'm still disappointed over all the sexist crap from the media and the failure of the DNC and the Obama campaign to fight it during primary season, I'm still hopeful that we'll see more progress happen on these fronts. I must admit that the more Obama & his supporters move to make amends, the more I'm starting to like him again. It's a slow process, but it's happening for me.

And hopefully, you and all other Clintonistas will experience this as well. That is, I hope Obama & his supporters start making amends with you and address the issues that you care about. This opportunity of making real change happen is just too important to squander. I hope Obama doesn't do that, but rather he proves to us Hillary Clinton Democrats that we have good reason to invest in this campaign.

Redstocking Grandma said...

Obama needs a feminist on staff by his side to vet all his speeches. He seems particularly tone deaf on feminist issues. Did he really think he was complimenting Clinton by marveling at her running for president in heels?

Psychodrew said...

Andrew--Maybe because I'm here, I'm not feeling it. I'm moving to FL next month. My new Congressman lives in a safe district and there are no Senate or Gov. races. There is an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot, so I think I'll be working on that. Or maybe voter registration. Maybe I'll get to the point where I can wear an Obama button. Not now. Not yet.

Redstocking Grandma--Welcome aboard! I missed that line in Obama's speech. Of course, I only watched the first thirty seconds of it. I agree. They need more feminists. Do you remember when Sen. Edwards commented on Hillary's jacket during the primary? So insulting. I don't think he was intentionally being sexist, but he was definitely being careless. In my opinion, there has been more of an effort not to appear racist than not to appear sexist.

atdnext said...

Redstocking-

Agreed. I actually don't think Barack was intentionally being sexist by mentioning "the heels". I agree with you, however, that he's pretty tone deaf on gender-related issues. Maybe even if he just consults Michelle more often before making statements like that, he'd be much better off.

Drew-

I hate repeating myself, but again... I understand, and I feel your pain. I technically shouldn't even really worry about Obama, as I'm in a reliably blue state (Cali). I guess I'm just so passionate about Barack now because I made a promise to Hillary on June 7 that I'll work as hard for him as I have for her. And I guess if Hillary can do it, I can too.

But please, don't take what I'm saying as a condemnation or some order that you "get over it". This primary has been painful for all of us Hillary Clinton Democrats, and I guess some of us may need more time to heal than others. And perhaps, all of us would appreciate more effort by the Obama campaign & the DNC to FINALLY address the misogyny used against Hillary and all of us who support her (yes, Nancy Pelosi, it did happen!!!!) AND promise to deliver the change we need to happen (on health care, trade, education, equal rights, etc.).

It would be really nice if we can soon start to see this "change we can believe in".

Psychodrew said...

Andrew--I understand your point. I respect that you're able to work with his people so soon. For me, I need to see something tangible for I do anything other than pledge my vote.

Laura said...

Very good points, and I really appreciate what you guys are doing with this website. I should say right off the bat that I am an Obama supporter, but I was a Deaniac in 2004 and I understand what you are going through.

The one point I disagree with is that Obama should send out an e-mail to his small donor list asking them to give to Hillary. Most of us are not maxed out to Obama, and even among the less militant Obama supporters I talk to, the sentiment is that we want all of our money that we can give to go to help Obama win the election. I know some Obama supporters, myself included, who plan to contribute to her after the election, but want to focus our resources on getting Obama elected right now. And if we are to criticize Obama for not asking his small donors to give to her, isn't it fair to point out that (to the best of my knowledge), she has not e-mailed her list asking them to give to Obama?

I do agree with you about the need for him to integrate her staff, and it looks like some progress has been made in that regard.

Again, I think this website is great, and I really appreciate what you are doing here.

Psychodrew said...

Laura, welcome! Please stop by and comment any time. We diverse opinions here. This blog is about bringing people together as much as possible.

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