June 12, 2008


This article by Sheri Rivlin and Allan Rivlin nails it and lays out some things Obama and his supporters can do to win us back. We don't want to be wooed. We want to be treated with respect and acknowledgement.

Despite many optimistic statements from the candidates and party leaders, true healing of the anger and hurt feelings will be quite difficult for some of the candidate's most enthusiastic supporters - and this is as true of Obama's supporters as it is of Clinton's. The "I told you so-s" of Obama supporters are no more focused on winning in November than the take-my-ball-and-go-home threats of Clinton supporters. Both are symptoms of aggrieved feelings that cannot just be willed away by references to party loyalty or the challenge ahead.

By winning the nomination, Obama supporters may feel that they have gained the upper hand in debates with Hillary supporters, but this is a false perception. This campaign is not over until the race is over. Political campaigns can never afford the luxury of feeling superior to anyone. Obama may have won the nomination but it will mean nothing if he does not win the General Election in November, and to do that he needs the votes and even the enthusiastic support of Hillary and her supporters. Clinton's supporters cannot be insulted, bullied, or guilted into enthusiastic support in the fall. Like any other key voting bloc, Obama and his supporters can only gain these votes by understanding Clinton's supporters' real concerns, making a connection with them and making a compelling case for their support.

We have no doubt that Barack Obama will personally offer Hillary Clinton his deep respect and ask for her support, and she will respond with her enthusiastic endorsement. But Obama supporters are not as reliably likely to think deeply and clearly about their real feeling toward the life-long Democrats who make up the backbone of Hillary's electoral success. Hillary's supporters' threats to back McCain, or more likely sit the contest out, are more than just idle.

Leaving the question of Hillary's support among blue-collar workers, Hispanics, and Jews for a future discussion, we are talking about Clinton's base among mostly white, mostly college educated, mostly over-40 women, or to put it another way, the women who grew up in the women's movement, and then turned much of that energy toward electing Democrats. In a lot of communities across America, if you call a meeting of the top Democratic officials and reliable campaign workers, that's who will show up. But they will not show up to be insulted, and consciously or unconsciously, Obama supporters have been relentless in insulting this group throughout this extended campaign.
Personal example: Just this morning I was having an email conversation with an Obama supporting friend, and while the exchange started out civil, said friend then sent me something they had written that called Hillary a fascist and a racist and that her troubles had nothing to do with sexism. How's that for unity? For respect? For acknowledgement?

The authors lay out some ways Obama supporters can draw us back into the Democratic Party fold.

  • First, stop labeling Clinton and her supporters as the politics of the past.
  • Second, Democrats need to reclaim the luster of the Clinton years.
  • Third, embrace feminism as one of the indispensable pillars of the Democratic coalition.

The party must stand together against the current cultural backlash against feminism in a way that lays the groundwork for women (and men) to support the next woman who runs for the presidency without continuing fear of ridicule. In victory or defeat, Clinton and her supporters deserve to be heard regarding their views about the sexist climate of this campaign. The sexism that just as much as racism persists in our culture, and consciously or unconsciously in our political campaigns must be "denounced and rejected." The Chinese proverb, "women hold up half the sky" does not even fully describe the Democratic Party where numerically, women account for substantially more than half of the votes we will need to win in November and this core group of Democrats deserves real respect from the Democratic Party and its new presidential nominee.

[+/-] More on the flipside/Close


texex said...

The playoffs - as brusing and hard fought as they were - are over; now it's time to put that fight away and prepare for the Super Bowl.

If you missed Ellen Moran, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and Cecile Richards yesterday on Hardball then you missed a great synthesis on McBush's record on women's issues.

It's worth the time for you to review his record [sic] if improving the quality of life for women is your hot button.

carissa said...

Wow, did you miss the point of this post.

carissa said...

Let's try this once again. I even bolded it in the post to make it clear:

Clinton's supporters cannot be insulted, bullied, or guilted into enthusiastic support in the fall. Like any other key voting bloc, Obama and his supporters can only gain these votes by understanding Clinton's supporters' real concerns, making a connection with them and making a compelling case for their support.

Mike said...

Is texex's argument the "guilted"
approach? (I presume so.)

In any event, I'm looking forward to the conversations Obama will be having with you and others with similiar issues and concerns.
(I presume some of these conversations will be personal and direct.)
This is all going to be a great learning process.
For all of us. (Obviously, some of us Obama supporters are slow learners. He's writing this new textbook, and some of us haven't been doing our assigned reading.)

The Red Queen said...

You know what- 2008 is not the last time people are going to vote for a president. There is sooo much more at stake than just the next presidential election.

We, the people the Obots have harassed, threatened, bullied and insulted for the last 6 months, are fighting for the heart and soul of our party. And when you have an abusive woman hating party on one side and their mirror image on the other, threats of McCain aren't really that threatening.

carissa said...

Hear! Hear!

Michael said...

Few of us have lived through a political year like this year (1968, 1972, 1980 were worse). I don't think either side has to apologize to the other, but we're in an age where anyone can pop off anonymously on the Net and that stuff has to end soon.

I trust Obama will work NV hard and pour a lot of money and visits here. His short list is really five, and his VP will be a terrific choice. Should he win, his Interior Sec and others will come from our region because the ballgame is NV, CO and NM. We will have a debate in our region too.

He will quadruple Kerry's visits here and I see a bus tour of NV too. You can't win NV and just work Clark.

carissa said...

You see Michael, I do think apologies are needed. And Obama needs to tell his more rabid supporters to cease and desist...PUBLICLY.

I wish you didn't hide your profile. I like to have some sort of idea who I'm responding to, especially since you're from NV. Feel free to drop me an email.

carissa said...

Oh...and Michael...this post is about acknowledgement and respect. I am still waiting for some acknowledgement from Obama. But no, he seems too busy chasing down the evangelical vote than to tend to the long-time activist Democratic women.

We're waiting.

Michael said...

I think they both have to tell their hard-assed supporters to back off. The bilge on the big Eastern blogs is terrible and there's zero control over content.

Both BO and HRC have to lead here. I think both will address it soon enough.

He is our nominee. This is the first time in 28 yrs of voting for prez my primary guy won! So I've been where my HRC friends are many, many times (I hated voting for Dukakis and Kerry, but I did!). I understand the disappointment, but disapprove of the division and hope it heals soon.

carissa said...

I think HRC has done plenty. She's endorsed, asked her supporters to back Obama. And from him? A few nice words about her and then crickets.

(I know who you are now...)

Renee said...

NO white feminists cannot be bullied into supporting Obama. They need to be pandered to. The racism that has been tossed at Obamas and Michelle while white feminists stood by has made it clear that they intend to make this election all about them and their needs. I don't even know why they use the word feminists because all it really means is middle class/rich white women. It certainly was not a term that was meant to include bodies of color. We have learned from what happened during sufferage...its a shame that with all of the time that has gone by that feminism has not evolved one iota....ooops spoke my mind again, and that is not a thing a woman of color should do right? Please excuse me while I go sit at the back of the bus.

carissa said...

Renee, I'm just so blown away by this post that I hardly know where to begin.

You make some pretty broad strokes. I know that I've stood up against racism against Obama, especially in my emails when I get anything that has to do with his father, mother, religion, yada yada. None of that shit sees the light of day on my blog. I give it no attention. I'm appalled at what's being directed at Michelle right now. See my post above.

I do not want to be pandered to. Pandering means lip service, not action.

Like Obama, I grew up in Hawaii. I know what a melting pot truly looks and feels like.

Who told you to go to the back of the bus? Not anyone I know. But, because I don't support Obama, you are slandering me (and a whole group of women) as a racist when you know zilch about me.

When I speak of feminism I mean all women.

carissa said...

Renee - PS I like your blog. I'll be checking in often.

Michael said...

Renee brings up the best point in all of this. Obama has huge support from many, many regular and then many, many powerful women. Just consider Kate Michelman, Claire McCasskill, Janet Napolitano, Kathy Sebelous---are they sexist too for not supporting HRC?

The notion that one cannot posses a 'Y' chromosome and be pro-women is as insulting as it is intellectually bankrupt--are you dismissing Obama's female support?

Obama is a Dem, women will be prominent in his administration, and all of the DNC rules since 1972 were designed to favor women all across the ballot. Bill and Hillary's DNC wrote all the rules for the last 16 years--she lost by the rules she help write!

Hillary ran a terrible campaign...just terrible. She had no plan 'B' after Iowa and 2/5. That's a strategic failure, not sexism. To keep calling it that harms women in the long run.

Admit error, and empower women---keep hiding behind the canard of sexism and continue to hurt women.

carissa said...

The notion that one cannot posses a 'Y' chromosome and be pro-women is as insulting as it is intellectually bankrupt--are you dismissing Obama's female support?
No. Where did I infer either of these things?

My objection to Obama goes far beyond the sexism of the media, SOME of his supporters and the silence of the Democratic "leadership" over it.

texex said...

CLS, if you have truely quit the Dem party as you say you have then why this obsession with Obama and a primary race that is OVER?

As Michael 7:06 points out there are presently many, many success stories of women in the Dem party. If you think this is not a success story extraordinaire then go back and look at the makeup of Congress, Governors, and state legislators in the 60s. Or the 20s. Or the 19th or 18th century.

So you can quit the party or hold your breath until you turn blue but Hillary losing a very hard fought primary is not going to stop or even slow the Women's Rights movement in the U.S. It matters really very little in the big panorama of the movement that spans centuries - not months.

Evolution - especially sociological evolution - is a slow process not punctuated by bursts of speed.

So I will put the question: How are you serving the overall Women's Movement by being a quitter? Obama won't know the difference but how have you helped the cause you so vigourously espouse? Had other leaders done the same women would not be where they are today.

carissa said...

CLS, if you have truely quit the Dem party as you say you have then why this obsession with Obama and a primary race that is OVER?

I am not obsessing about the primary, I am discussing what is happening NOW post-primary. I've got an awful lot of Obama supporters coming here and telling me that I have to suck it up, giving no acknowledgement that we have been deeply hurt and feel betrayed by what we perceive to be sexist treatment by members of our own party. We are being told that our feelings don't matter. Can you not understand how this comes across?

How are you serving the overall Women's Movement by being a quitter?

Well, gosh, texex, thanks for straightening me out. I had no idea that the Women's Movement™ is the sole property of the Democratic Party.

Not that I need your permission to quit the Democratic Party, but you did mention in another post that leaving things that cause me stress was okay to do, remember?

Michael said...

I have to agree with Tex, if you have issue with the nominee, stay in the fold and work towards those issues. You are/were in party leadership.

As NP, you are on the outside looking in. Too many of us sat there quietly with our hands folded during the Clinton years and didn't put enough fire under his ass, or hers. I was one of them, and I deeply regret that.

Carissa was a net plus to the party, leaving it diminishes her and the party.

Just because you lost, feelings are hurt, and things didn't go the way you had planned is not reason to throw in the towel. That is not pro-woman, and not at all pro-feminist. It's fatalist and pouting and you are far more woman than that--setting back women, not advancing them. Deal with adversity, don't run away from it or disappointment.

Tell our nominee what you expect from him and trust he will listen.

carissa said...

Just this last thing and then I really need to get back to work.

I am currently printing the Green Party platform. When I read it it is everything I am.

So, it begs the question. Which party do I declare my loyalty to? The one that is big and powerful and yet can't seem to stand up for its ideals? Or do I go with the one that matches me, and work to grow THAT one?

One portion from the GP platform:

Religious Freedom and Secular Equity
The United States Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion. We affirm the right of each individual to the exercise of conscience and religion, while maintaining the constitutionally mandated separation of government and religion. We believe that federal, state, and local governments must remain neutral regarding religion.

We call for:

a. Ending discriminatory federal, state, and local laws against particular religious beliefs, and non-belief. The U.S. Constitution states that there shall be no religious test for public office. This requirement should apply to oaths (or affirmations) for holding public office at any level, employment at all government levels, oaths for witnesses in courts, oaths for jury membership, and the oath for citizenship.

b. Prosecution of hate crimes based on religious affiliation or practice.

c. Elimination of displays of religious symbols, monuments, or statements on government buildings, property, websites, money, or documents.

d. Restoration of the Pledge of Allegiance to its pre-1954 version, eliminating the politically motivated addition of "under God."

e. Ending faith-based initiatives and charitable choice programs, whereby public funds are used to support religious organizations that do not adhere to specified guidelines and standards, including anti-discrimination laws.

f. Ending school vouchers whereby public money pays for students in religious schools.

g. Ending governmental use of the doctrines of specific religions to define the nature of family, marriage, and the type and character of personal relationships between consenting adults.

h. Ending religiously-based curricula in government-funded public schools.

i. Ending the use of religion as a justification to deny children necessary medical care or subject them to physical and emotional abuse.

j. Ending the use of religion by government to define the role and rights of women in our society.

k. Revocation of the Congressional charter of the Boy Scouts of America. Any private organization that practices bigotry against certain religious beliefs and classes of people should not have a Congressional endorsement or access to public property and funds.

Can you see the Democratic Party going near any of this with a ten-foot pole?

Michael said...

LOL! With Nadar as their standard bearer, I don't think people are going to vote for a Green guy in brown corduroy suit--you seem more Libertarian to me Carissa.

What we must acknowledge is that faith is a big part of 230 million of 302 million Americans. It's always been there and it has alway affected politics. I want to know how faith values effect political decision making, not how your preacher states things.

I'm a lifelong Dem, I'm practicing catholic, I'm pro-choice and I listen to what both the pope and whomever my president is, to see how they're feeling about things.

Then I make my own choices because that's my duty as an American.

carissa said...

Um, Nader is not running on the Green Party ticket per their web site.

Nader is just an opportunist. Can't stand him. Yes, I do have a lot of Libertarian tendencies, but like they say, the Libertarian Party are just Republicans that want to smoke pot and have sex.