On One Hand

June 20, 2008

What Hillary can Say to Help the Dems

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:41 am
Tags: ,

Hillary Clinton is going to start campaigning side-by-side with Barack Obama next Friday. The goal is to continue to unite the party, bringing Clinton’s anti-Obama supporters around so that they don’t defect to John McCain.

Clinton has already said that the differences between herself and Barack Obama pale in comparison to their differences with John McCain. But Obama still faces the anger of Clinton supporters who call him sexist or say he “stole” the election from Hillary Clinton. They’d rather undermine their own interests and support the Republican than support they guy who is most responsible for preventing their candidate from becoming president. But Obama, the Dems, and even Clinton herself need to see Barack Obama elected if her direction for the country is to be fulfilled; that means universal healthcare, ending the war, saving Roe v. Wade and rolling back the Bush tax cuts. They won’t get every Clinton supporter back, but they can get a few more and offer Obama a 2-point bump, which makes a big difference when he’s already ahead. Here’s what Clinton can and should say to bring her angry supporters around:

Obama won the primary fair and square. It’s one thing to see the candidate you love lose the nomination, and be forced to turn your support to the party’s other candidate. It’s quite another if you think your candidate won the nomination and the nomination was given to someone else anyway – the latter scenario makes you much more likely to defect from the party as a whole.

But there’s little merit to claims that Obama “stole” the nomination, especially given that Clinton herself said that the superdelegates can support whomever they like – regardless of the public will – and they clearly favored Obama. Obama got the most delegates, and that’s why he’s the Democratic nominee. He got those delegates because they chose him or were elected to choose him, not because he coerced them or that they felt obligated to favor him because he is Black. Obama won a pledged delegate majority, a superdelegate majority, and the majority of the popular vote not counting Michigan where Obama wasn’t on the ballot. If Hillary Clinton can help her supporters face those facts, it will lesson the sting of turning shifting support to Barack Obama.

Even if Michigan and Florida had been counted in full, Obama would have had more delegates than Clinton. The Michigan-Florida debate was eventually most heated dispute between the two campaigns, and later it was the heated dispute between the Clinton campaign and the Democratic party as a whole when the Rules Committee stuck to its own pre-primary decision to punish states who held their primaries too soon. But the dispute over Michigan and Florida were about Democratic principles, not about choosing the nominee; Obama was ahead of Clinton by delegate gap big enough that those states would not have made the difference for Clinton. Had they been counted in full, Barack Obama still would have won, albeit by a slimmer margin.

Barack Obama supports womens’ rights and gay rights and opposes sexism. Many of Clinton’s supporters, be they gay men or second-wave feminist women, have suggested that Clinton lost the nomination because she was a woman and because the media attacked her for being a woman. Sexist language was certainly there, and it may or may not be why she lost the nomination, but Clinton could help Obama by pointing out that the sexist language came from pundits or ordinary people and not Barack Obama himself. Furthermore, Barack Obama is pro-choice while John McCain is not, Barack Obama is pro-gay while John McCain is not, and Barack Obama supports a liberal Supreme Court while John McCain does not. Barack Obama is as much of a feminist as Hillary Clinton is, and his victory over John McCain can represent a victory for women’s interests in November.

The Republicans are attacking Michelle Obama in the same way they once attacked Hillary Clinton. It was during Bill Clinton’s presidency that Hillary Clinton first became a hero to some feminists, and to those who would whisper – someday, she’ll be the first woman president. But it was Conservative attacks on Hillary Clinton that crystalized that defensive support, and sealed her reputation as a fighter who has taken more heat than most men in politics ever do. If Hillary Clinton was the first First Lady presented as an outspoken and involved woman with her own opinions, Michelle Obama would be the second. Now Michelle Obama’s comment about being “really proud” of America for the “first time” in her adult life is lampooned in the same way that Clinton’s comments about stay-at-home moms were lampooned in 1992. Pundits are calling Michelle a “black separatist” though they have no supporting evidence, while the wider rhetoric suggests that she’s “really bitter” or an “angry woman” who actually wears the pants in the relationship – sound familiar? If Clinton can make the case that Michelle Obama is facing the same kind of sexist and racist attacks that she herself once faced as First Lady, she could coalesce the same kind of support among feminist women and ensure that they will campaign and vote for Barack Obama.



  1. show your support

    Let’s see Obama’s face everywhere, on the streets, in the cafe and coffee shops, at the mall show his face today!

    Comment by Anonymous — June 21, 2008 @ 5:52 am | Reply

  2. i saw ur on suicideboys or something, and linked here, im bored. ur pretty cute 😛

    we have the same bday, random.


    Comment by toxic_swamp — June 21, 2008 @ 10:21 am | Reply

  3. What I found interesting that was pointed out in last week’s New York magazine was that Hillary’s campaign was constantly saying that the democratic nomination had to go to a politician that could defeat John McCain. And Hillary Clinton believed she was that person. So, if Obama loses the presidential election then her camapign was correct in their prediction. I don’t know what is going to happen if she campaigns for Obama, I just hope us Democrats didn’t make the wrong choice.

    Comment by octoberxswimmer — June 23, 2008 @ 8:00 am | Reply

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