This isn’t politics… it’s personal: The Hillary ‘supporters’ who, when all is said and done, support themselves. August 27, 2008Posted by WorldbyStorm in US Politics.
Okay, that might well have done it. Clinton is regarded as giving a ‘powerful plea for party unity, and an ‘unequivocal endorsement‘ of Barack Obama, and here she’s given not merely a powerful plea, but an ‘emphatic’ one, no less. Still, I’m intrigued by this and these analyses which may point to continuing issues (John Dickerson notes that she didn’t make any show of support for Obama’s foreign policy credentials – that said perhapsshe felt that in the absence of the initials HRC on the ticket and the arrival of a certain J. Biden that was a bridge too far). For those as do want them, as the saying goes.
Still, in fairness she came out did the deal and tonight… well, it’s Clinton redux. It’s like a never-ending time tunnel that opens onto 1993. Very strange.
Another interesting piece by John Dickerson in Slate about the continuing disconnect between a significant, albeit small, portion of Clinton’s base and the Democratic Party.
As he notes:
In the two and a half months since Barack Obama won the nomination, he’s been trying to convince Hillary’s supporters—but his standing with them has gotten only worse. Roughly 30 percent of Clinton voters say they won’t vote for him, and this is not a one-poll anomaly. The number is the same in the Pew, ABC, and CNN polls. That’s as bad as it was during the heat of the Democratic primary.
And it’s not improving despite Clinton throwing at least a fair portion of her political strength behind Obama. Indeed every protestation of loyalty Clinton makes paradoxically raises the ire of her supposed supporters.
This is exemplified by the following from the PUMA (“Party Unity My Ass”) [or as they prefer: People United Means Action] site.
As a very avid Hillary supporter, I am becoming increasingly disillusioned with her stance especially after viewing the tape of her speaking to the New York delegates. During the campaign, she said a lot of things and made a lot of promises. I really think that she is putting her career before her constituents and all of us who supported her. If she truly is the fighter that we thought she was, she would not cave into this party. It really breaks my heart.
I unfortunately am wondering the same thing about Hillary. She DID make promises to us. I still support her.
But if she does not fight for the nomination, then I have to wonder – just what on earth is going on. This is no typical election. This is what makes it so very easy for me to switch to McCain should that time come – and with NO reservations. I believe we are fighting for our country this time – there is no doubt of that in my mind.
That is exactly why I’m here, and why I’ll be marching for Hillary in Denver tomorrow. I’m an independent conservative, and I’ll be voting McCain. But I have more admiration for Hillary than I can express, and more absolute disgust and fury than I can express for what they did to her in May, and since. It truly is about the validity of the political process, and about the rights of women to equal respect in politics.
I wouldn’t want to be in Hillary’s shoes right now. She has two choices: either she caves in to the DNC and gives Obama the nomination or she stands up for her supporters and fights for it. Either way, her career will probably be destroyed. If she goes with the DNC she risks alienating her supporters. If she fights and doesn’t win the DNC will destroy her. I have very mixed feelings about it. I don’t know if I will be able to support her in 2012 if she doesn’t take a stand for all of us now. Also, there’s the possibility that when Obama loses in Nov., she will be blamed and the DNC will destroy her career anyway. Like I said, I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes.
The sad thing is she is doing this to keep her standing in the party; but if they treat her this way now, just what does she think they will do in the future? I don’t even think the DNC will be a credible or viable party after this fiasco. Why should she worry about how they will treat her for standing up for her supporters?
They’re all aware that no matter who does what, we’ll never support Obama.
Here the dynamic is entirely inverted. The ‘supporters’ are key, not the candidate who is meant to represent their viewpoint and definitely not the political programme.
There is a problem though. If one goes through the comments at length, or even better the comments on Slate’s “The Fray” on the original Dickerson article one will see a most unlikely frequency of the words socialist and communist in reference to the DNC. At least unlikely in the context of supposed Democrat supporters/members. So, is all this being exaggerated by a disinformation campaign perhaps emanating closer to the Republican base? Certainly some seem to think so. And it’s hard not to put some credence in that theory. The idea that Obama is, as some of his critics make out, a ‘socialist’ and an extreme leftwinger make a mockery of the analysis which was made of his and Clinton’s individual political positions over the past year or so when she was, on a number of issues (and health-care most obviously) the candidate further to the left. Indeed that’s something that I found myself in greater agreement with her candidacy than Obama’s.
But that said, and putting PUMA and all its works to one side, it is clear there is at least a constituency which believes that Clinton was the superior candidate and that Obama ‘stole’ the nomination. Whether these are ‘moderates’ who would always have found McCain a congenial candidate this year (and in previous ones) is not quite a moot point.
I’m not even sure if this is personality politics although we are seeing chickens coming home to roost as regards the over emphasis on ‘candidate’ politics as against party programmes. It seems to me to be something else again, “personal politics”, the over-identification of self with candidate to the point that when the candidate disrupts that identification (or political circumstance, as with Obama’s victory in the nomination process) the only direction left is to tack towards the antithesis of what the candidate believes in and vote for their actual political opponent (and in the pieces above from the PUMA site I’ve avoided quoting those who will vote for McCain in November).
This is perhaps more a factor of the US political context, but it is not unknown in either Ireland or the UK. Indeed I’ve always been a little bit entertained at those who placed their trust in a political figure only to see it dashed. Well, them’s the breaks. It may sound cynical, but everyone in politics will let one down sooner or later. Only those who do relatively little manage to evade that fate. But it is an argument for programmes, or at least ideology. And there is a certain irony in the way that some Clinton supporters appear now to see in McCain a less existential threat to their own self-regard than Obama. Another telling indictment of the ‘moderate’ centrism of US politics.
And is this campaign latching onto a real but not quite as exaggerated political dynamic. Those are no doubt the sort of questions that keep Obama and his advisors awake at night, and if she has any sense I’d imagine that the same thoughts might exercise Clinton. Because while Dickerson makes the fair point that:
Whatever role these PUMAs ultimately play, we are learning that Barack Obama’s ability to persuade is limited. This has obvious implications for the coalition he needs to build to win, but it also raises questions about the way he intends to govern. He’s promised he can rally the nation to change, but it may be that he can rally only a certain constituency (and boy can he rally them) rather than being able to sway opinions and emotions across several constituencies.
The same holds true of Clinton. Her ability to retain her nominal supporters is perhaps less than she might imagine. And this has very real implications for any effort she might make in 2012 should Obama falter.
Whatever else, though, it is it is not progressive and I fear that there will be much time to repent at leisure if the admittedly watery moderation of an Obama Democratic Presidency is beaten by McCain to the White House.