Memo to Obama and Clinton supporters
by desmoinesdem, Wed Feb 06, 2008 at 04:56:05 AM EST
I don't have a dog in this primary anymore. My candidate, John Edwards, is out of the race. I would vote for and do GOTV for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the general. I see major drawbacks to both of them as candidates and potential presidents, but I also think either of them have a realistic chance to beat John McCain and run a good administration.
This diary contains some friendly advice for supporters of both candidates going forward.
First, for the Obama supporters: your candidate had a great night in some respects, but face some facts. After a week or more of almost entirely favorable media coverage for Obama, Clinton got something like a million more votes yesterday. [UPDATE: I didn't check the latest returns this morning--turns out Obama was much closer in the overall popular vote than I realized.] She crushed him among some key demographics, like women and Latinos in California.
You can talk all you want about how Obama won more states, won more delegates, and has more money to spend in the coming weeks. But does it look good for supporters of the guy who supposedly stands for empowering people to dismiss a popular vote advantage for the other side? Do you want to crow about how Obama can win this nomination on delegates while losing the popular vote?
Also, stop putting so much stock in endorsements, whether they be from celebrities or well-respected politicians. People who are not already on the Obama bandwagon don't care.
Obama lost Massachusetts and California by clear margins. So much for the Kennedy family endorsements and Oprah's stamp of approval.
Speaking for myself, it wouldn't matter if Al Gore and John Edwards endorsed Obama tomorrow (though I don't know why Edwards would endorse the candidate who keeps mocking him in his stump speech and demagoguing on universal health care plans).
In addition, if you are trying to persuade voters in upcoming states to back Obama, don't bother sending them that "Yes We Can" video. That's great if you want to fire up Obama supporters, but for people who aren't already sold on him, that video just makes him look like the celebrity, media-hype candidate.
Tell your undecided friends and relatives about Obama's concrete plans for the economy, environment, and so on. If they aren't already committed to him, rhetoric about how amazing and inspiring he is probably won't do the trick now. They are probably wondering what this guy stands for and what he would do if elected.
Finally, to repeat a couple of points JedReport made in this diary that every Obama supporter should read, quit bashing Paul Krugman and praising David Brooks just because of their views about your candidate.
Now, some free advice for Clinton supporters. Your candidate had some great wins yesterday in the face of a media onslaught, but Obama beat her 2-1 or 3-1 in a bunch of states. Some of those states are almost certain to go red in November, but others are states we need to hold, like Minnesota, or should be able to compete for, like Colorado.
True, the absolute number of voters and delegates in those states may be small, but it speaks to how many committed Democrats do not want Hillary at the top of the ticket.
Recognize this reality and explain to your undecided friends and relatives in states that have not voted why Hillary would not be a drag on the ticket.
Also, and this only applies to a small but vocal minority among Clinton supporters, don't try to dismiss Obama as the candidate who lacks broad appeal and can only win by getting 80 percent of the black vote.
First of all, he has now won a bunch of states with minimal African-American populations. Second, a vote is a vote. Third, if Hillary wins the nomination, mending fences with black voters will need to be a big priority for the Clintons. You should be trying to set a more gracious tone right now.
If I were a Clinton supporter, I would talk more about Hillary's specific proposals and commitment to Democratic values, and less about how she has so much more experience than Obama. A lot of people, like me, think both candidates have enough experience to be president (even if she is more experienced). If they have doubts about Obama, it's probably because he seems to shy away from identifying as a Democrat and plays up a post-partisan, "inspirer-in-chief" image.
Hillary can bring progressives to her side if they become convinced that her administration won't make too many compromises with conservatives on economic, social and environmental policies. A lot of us remember feeling so frustrated that Bill Clinton didn't go to the mat on some key issues during the 1990s. Hillary needs to persuade undecideds, especially Edwards supporters, that she will not compromise too much.
One reason why I am not an "anybody but Hillary" voter is that I've read persuasive diaries about her achievements and her plans for the future. Make diaries like this one and this one your model. Taunting the other side as an empty suit puffed up by the media isn't going to bring over a lot of undecided voters.
One final word of advice to hotheads on both sides. You lose credibility if you swear not to vote for the other candidate in the general election. Unless you are thrilled about the prospect of two or three more Alitos on the Supreme Court, don't make dumb threats about staying home or voting for McCain.
Whoever you are, you probably didn't spend more hours than I did this past year volunteering for your candidate. If I can suck it up and support our nominee in the general, so can you.
That's all I've got for now. Thank you for reading.