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.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?
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.
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.
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