The Republicans have been on the ground here in Denver. They even threw parties for Clinton supporters. They did what Obama acolytes should have done.
This is from Gina at What About Our Daughters, and I think she's dead on. Some fun historical facts, via PBS' coverage of the DNC: in 1976, both parties (on a national scale) supported abortion rights; both parties supported passing the Equal Rights Amendment. And then, the Republicans lost. And they decided to do what Republicans have been doing best ever since; they decided to go out there, change their message, and woo voters who traditionally would not have voted for them (and also, fight dirty). They became more evangelically friendly, after years of the evangelical branch of Christianity staying out of elections. Now, those people are their voting block. What the Democrats do, what they have continually done, is expected voters to come to them. And that doesn't work. The historical lesson the Democrats should have taken from Al Gore's loss in 2000 wasn't that Ralph Nader cost Gore the election, but that Democrats have to work harder to earn their constituents' -and people who should be their constituents- votes. But they still don't. I'm now an Obama supporter. I'm firmly and keenly planted behind Obama. But my hackles are still being raised by editorials like Nora Ephron's. Why? Because Obama won. He won, and Hillary Clinton, although she has been maligned by the press even after she conceded, has done something different in giving Obama her pledge of support even before going to the DNC. Seriously, that is incredibly rare. What is even rarer is to have the defeated opponent offer up a speech like hers at the DNC -or a speech like Bill Clinton's for that matter. Ted Kennedy, Jerry Brown, Ronald Reagan, Jesse Jackson, all of these people did not endorse their party's candidate when they spoke at their national convention. Jerry Brown's speech was considered a win by the The Atlanta Journal Constitution because it did not contain a direct attack of Presidential nominee Bill Clinton. Hell, Jesse Jackson refused to release his delegates and threatened to put his name into nomination for vice-president. And you know what happened? 3/4 of the time, the candidate lost. Ford lost; Carter lost; Dukakis lost. But Ted Kennedy isn't reviled for it, and Ronald Reagan certainly wasn't reviled for it.
So, as I said before, I don't understand Clinton supporters who would vote for McCain. But it takes enormous hubris on the part of Obama's supporters to assume that they can strong-arm Clinton supporters into endorsing Barack Obama. Some of these people devoted years of their lives to getting Clinton elected. Others have felt like their hopes have been crushed; still others feel like this is one more example of an older woman being usurped by a younger man (and yes, that last one is a bit emotional; but it is a response, especially for women who know that the older they get, the more invisible and less valuable they become). It is easy to say, "my party, right or wrong", just like it is easy to say, "my country, right or wrong" -but as John Kerry said, "Absolutely my country right or wrong; when right, keep it right, and when wrong, make it right". Obama is an incredible candidate. He has not engaged in the politics of fear; but he also has a long way to go, and one of the things we have to accomplish is true party unity. What Obama supporters have to do -and should do, if they truly wish to see their candidate elected- is to stop attacking Clinton, and stop maligning and attacking Clinton supporters. There are certainly reasons for Obama supporters to dislike Clinton, but she is no longer part of the narrative. She is not the nominee. She is not the vice-presidential nominee. She is now part of the greater Obama narrative, and her job is to do her damnedest to get Obama elected. So let it be. Because the more the attacks grow, the more it seems like the Obama supporters -at least those on the interweb- are sore winners, are petty, and refuse to extend the hand of friendship to Clinton supporters. Who may very well refuse to accept it. But there has to be an offer made first.
John McCain is very crafty. He is also an incredible politician. He grabbed all of Barack Obama's post-convention air time, and he made a vice-presidential pick based at least partially on the fact that some Clinton supporters are angry, some Clinton supporters are feeling attacked, and some Clinton supporters -and women in general- are being overlooked under the assumption that they will come back to the pack because there is no where else for them to go. That kind of thinking hurts Democratic chances in national elections. That kind of thinking loses elections. Because women -and gays, and blacks, and environmentalists, and progressives- make up the Democratic base. But if these different groups are only being thrown a bone every so often while legislation is being pushed through that continually erodes their rights, the cold comfort of this party being the better of the major two may not be enough to get them to the polls come November. Cater to the base; always cater to the base first and foremost. And Obama supporters need to not assume that Clinton supporters -or independents, or Edwards supporters- are selfish, aren't considering the consequences of their non-vote for Obama, or are in some way defective. As Bill Clinton said, "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than the example of our power", and that same sentiment should reverberate among Obama supporters. Threats aren't going to work; but examples and thoughtful analysis and respectful discussion -along with the in roads Obama made last night by mentioning abortion rights and gay rights- may help turn the tide.
We've got two months to make to make the case for Obama. We've got two months to make those who feel invisible to this campaign feel like they are not only visible but an important consideration. We've got two months to prove that McCain doesn't care for women much, and that his VP isn't a victory for women on the national scale either -though it is definitely a step forward for there to be a woman on a presidential ticket of a mainstream national party; too bad it is mostly in an effort to get the disenfranchised Clinton voters. And too bad it took 24 years to get another woman on a ticket since the last one.