There have been numerous posts throughout Left Blogistan in the last few weeks concerning Hillary supporters. They are right about one thing. Hillary supporters are angry.
The Obama Fan Boiz (OFB) at the original pro-Obama blogs either arrogantly predict that the “true” Democrats among Hillary’s supporters will “get over it” and “come around” by November or they are trying to figure out how they can manipulate Hillary supporters to make that happen. The confident ones tend to be obnoxious and condescending, and can’t seem to stop bashing Hillary and her loyal supporters.
The others are taking a less antagonistic and more sensitive approach, advocating that the people who supported Hillary be given time to “grieve” and stressing things like party loyalty and the different type of Supreme Court appointments that Obama and John McCain would likely make. Roe v. Wade is frequently mentioned.
Both types of OFB are clueless. They don’t even know who we are, let alone what we think.
There are a number of former pro-Hillary sites that are now pro-Obama, some tepidly, some enthusiastically. They too stress party loyalty and the difference between McCain and Obama. Some consider Obama a qualified candidate but would have preferred Hillary, others consider him the lesser of two evils compared to McCain. I hold no animosity for these new Obama supporters. I understand their position, but I don’t agree.
Lastly, there are the P.U.M.A. (Party Unity My Ass) sites. Most of them are fairly new but have seen tremendous growth in the past few weeks. The denizens of these sites are sometimes referred to as “dead-enders.” Markos Moulitsas Zuniga called us a “shrieking band of paranoid holdouts.” I am a PUMA.
The conventional wisdom is that PUMA’s are mostly older women who consider themselves feminists. The OFB think we are either are racists or GOP ratfuckers. The conventional wisdom is wrong.
PUMA’s do tend to be older than OFB’s, but we are among the demographic that is into blogging, meaning that most of us aren’t retired. We’re in our 30′s, 40′s and 50′s. Many of us are male (like your truly) and most of us are above-average in education (most political bloggers are.) There are large numbers of LGBT’s in the PUMA movement, as well as racial minorities.
There is a common meme that Hillary’s supporters, being older feminists, “identified” with her and took the sexism and misogyny in the campaign personally. Speaking for myself, I found the sexism and misogyny offensive, and was shocked to see alleged “progressives” participating. I agree with Melissa McEwan that such people are “fauxgressives,” because no true progressive can be a sexist.
Many PUMA’s recall the Sixties, even if we were too young to participate in the struggles. I was born in 1960, and one of my earliest memories was the JFK assassination. I was 3 ½ half years old when he was killed, and I recall my mom coming home early from work that day, and I remember the television coverage of his death and funeral. I have clearer memories of the MLK and RFK assassinations, especially RFK because I live in California he visited my town on a whistle-stop tour in the days leading up to the primary. I remember Vietnam and the anti-war protests, Watergate, McGovern (he visited my town on a whistle-stop in 1972) and Jimmy Carter.
PUMA’s are idealists, not racists. We are judging Obama on the content of his character, not the color of his skin. His character, and his resume. Nearly all PUMA’s are long-time or life-time Democrats. Although I am ashamed to admit that when I was young and dumb I voted for Reagan, I have been a yellow-dog Democrat since 1984, and have voted straight a Democratic ticket in every election for twenty-four years. I was a liberal back when it was a dirty word.
PUMA’s remember the Nineties and the Presidency of Bill Clinton. We never thought he was perfect, and his reputation even before he was elected was such that the Lewinsky scandal was not particularly shocking or surprising. We wished he was more liberal and less “triangulating,” but his entire time in office was spent defending earlier liberal progress against an ascendent conservative GOP.
In the early Nineties, it seemed that the “Reagan Revolution” had run out of steam. But it was only pausing to catch its breath. Headed by Newt Gingrich, the GOP went on the attack in a successful attempt to win control of Congress. They had money, organization, candidate recruitment, and media support. They had “talk radio” with Rush Limbaugh and soon had their own television network in FOX News.
Part of the GOP strategy involved destroying Democratic leaders through scandal. Privately funded operations dovetailed with Congressional investigations and special prosecutors. Salacious details and unsupported allegations were promptly leaked to the media. Bill Clinton was a prominent target. Richard Mellon Scaife funded the “Arkansas Project” to find dirt on the Clintons.
“Whitewater” was the most mainstream of the investigations of Bill and Hillary’s old failed land deal. $60 million was spent by Kenneth Starr investigating that deal alone. Other “investigations” included the firing of the White House Travel Office employees, Vince Foster’s suicide, and the White House Christmas card list. Tabloid papers like the National Enquirer competed with mainstream media on stories about the Mena Airport, murder, rape, drug dealing and numerous lesser offenses, including allegations that Bill fathered a child with a black woman.
In the end, Bill Clinton was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate for lying about a blow-job, and settled out of court with Paula Jones. But the attacks also included the propagation of meme’s about the Clintons, including that they were “divisive,” “corrupt,” “power-hungry” and “ruthless.”
For PUMA’s, the most shocking thing about this primary campaign was the way those right-wing memes were recycled and used enthusiastically by Democrats against Hillary. Even worse was the adoption by the Obama campaign, the OFB and the media of the idea that Bill and Hillary were racists, or were at least using a racist campaign strategy. This naturally led to the meme that many if not all of Hillary’s supporters were racists.
If this false and despicable story were merely the work of the media it would be bad enough, but it was clearly being pushed by the Obama campaign. There is an old saying that “politics ain’t beanbag,” but this was beyond the pale. Of course, Obama himself didn’t publically push the meme, nor did he personally push any other smears. His campaign did the dirty work, allowing him to denounce such sleazy tactics (days later, after the damage was done.)
The RFK smear, alleging that Hillary was suggesting she stayed in the race in case of (or even hoping that) Obama was assassinated was icing on the cake after the racism allegations. To most PUMA’s, falsely accusing another Democrat of racism is unforgivable. But it isn’t just these smears that motivate the PUMA’s.
Conventional wisdom among the OFB and the media is that PUMA’s think Hillary lost due to sexism and misogyny. Again, they are wrong. PUMA’s understand that sexism and misogyny (as exemplified by the male pundits at MSNBC) were at most a contributing factor in the campaign. And Obama and his campaign didn’t really demonstrate sexism or misogyny as much as they did plain old contempt for both Bill and Hillary, as well as her supporters.
Let me tell you a secret: IT’S NOT ABOUT HILLARY.
It really isn’t. It’s about Barack Obama. We don’t think he is qualified to be President. We don’t like the tactics he used in this campaign. We don’t like the way he “won,” And we especially don’t like his supporters.
When you consider that we are almost all Democrats over the age of 30, then you must realize that we have experienced losing elections before. We are not merely sore losers. If Hillary had lost to another qualified candidate, we would be disappointed but we would still support the winner. But Barack Obama is not qualified to be President. He simply does not have the necessary experience. He is just now completing his fourth year in the US Senate. Prior to that he was a part-time legislator in Illinois.
His legislative accomplishments, both in the Senate and in Illinois, are unremarkable and there is evidence they were largely unearned. His voting record in Illinois is troubling for the number of times he voted “present” or mistakenly voted the wrong way.
Senator Obama has argued that in place of experience he has superior judgment. He offers as evidence a little noticed speech he gave against the war in Iraq back in 2002, but his statements and votes since then contradict the speech. His recent statements and policy flip-flops call into question his judgment, but not nearly as much as his association with people like William Ayers, Tony Rezko, Rev. Wright, Father Phleger and others.
His supporters argue that he is an inspiring public speaker, but he has been shown to have trouble speaking without a Teleprompter, and there are questions as to whose words he uses in his speeches.
As discussed above, PUMA’s are offended by the tactics used by Senator Obama in this campaign, particularly the race-baiting. This nation bears deep scars because of racism, and we are not yet fulled healed. Falsely accusing others of racism in order to win elections is an impermissible tactic, and doing so disqualifies the offender from holding office. Period.
PUMA’s are outraged at the way the Democratic National Committee and certain Democratic party leaders manipulated the rules in order to give the nomination to Senator Obama. The Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting on May 31st was especially galling, because they took delegates away from Hillary and gave them to Senator Obama. Donna Brazile in particular will always be infamous to PUMA’s.
We are also upset at the nomination system. The patchwork of primaries and caucuses (and sometimes both) all with different rules was bad enough. But the DNC rules gave too much influence to caucuses in small “red” states. Add to that evidence that Obama supporters gamed the caucuses to skew the results, and the legitimacy of the outcome is at best questionable.
Which brings us to the Obama supporters. PUMA’s understand that many of Senator Obama’s supporters are good, decent progressive Democrats that share our values. We have no problem with those people. But there is a group of Obama supporters that are obnoxious, abusive and nasty.
These people are not progressives or liberals. The are fauxgressive libertarians. This group is overwhelming young, male, and infected with CDS. They not only drove Hillary supporters away from the “A” list blogs, they followed us to new sites and attacked us there. The things they say range from rude and condescending to abusive and threatening.
Some say we should not blame Senator Obama for the behavior of some of his supporters. That might be true, but there is an old saying that “you are judged by the company you keep.” Senator Obama did little or nothing to prevent or denounce their behavior, and in some instances he seemed to encourage it, like when he used the contemptuous “dirt off your shoulder” gesture referring to Hillary.
PUMA’s have taken a long and thorough look at Barack Obama. They have given careful consideration of all the issue and arguments made for and against his candidacy. And they have concluded that Senator Barack Obama is unfit to be President of the United States.
But he is now the “presumptive” Democratic nominee, so many people think we must support him. Rebecca Traister at Salon said:
“These angry people have nowhere else to go. So the safe expectation is that they will fall in line without much kicking and screaming. And that, ultimately, is why many of them are kicking and screaming. Yes, they’re going to vote for Obama. Of course they’ll vote for him. The truth is, they’ll probably love voting for him. But after what they feel has been done to them — the way in which they were written off, marginalized and resented, their hopes mocked and their history-making ambitions dismissed as retrograde identity politicking — damned if they’re going to be nice girls about it.”
Ms. Traister apparently didn’t bother to interview any PUMA’s before writing about them. If she had, she would have discovered that we do have options. We own our votes. They are ours, and we owe them to no one.
We will not give them to Barack Obama.
Some of us will vote for John McCain. I myself, will not. I live in California, which has been solidly blue in Presidential elections since at least 1992. If my state is “in play” next November, Senator Obama will have lost so many other states that the outcome here will not matter.
I either will not vote for any candidate for President, or I will write-in Hillary Clinton’s name. Or perhaps I will cast my ballot for a third-party candidate. I will vote down-ticket for other Democrats.
Some PUMA’s see their actions as a protest. I see it as a battle for the soul of the Democratic party. Allowing John McCain to win is bitter medicine, but necessary to purge certain elements from the party, or at least the party leadership. There is no place in the party for sexism, misogyny, race-baiting, or CDS.
Now the situation isn’t hopeless. There are alternatives. The Democratic convention isn’t until August. One alternative would be to nominate Hillary Clinton. Of course, that would anger the rabid Obama supporters, and despite their “get over it” rhetoric they would likely refuse to support Hillary.
But like I said, it isn’t about Hillary. Even though we believe her to be by far the best available candidate, there are other Democrats that PUMA’s would support. Al Gore probably tops that list, but Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Wesley Clarke are qualified for the job, as would be Madeline Albright or Dianne Feinstein. There are others as well.
One thing the Democratic party leaders and superdelegates should have no doubt about: We aren’t bluffing.
Party Unity My Ass!