Can We Still Be Friends?

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have retired their daggers to turn their eyes towards the November election, but a happy reunion may be a bit harder to weather for some Clinton supporters

The announcement of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama’s joint stumping for his campaign June 27th gave the pundits and Kumbaya-lovers what they’d been asking for — a grand Hollywood ending featuring the two political heavyweights. Beaming, standing astride each other and full of praise they were. Even if critics said it wouldn’t be sincere and would take the negotiating techniques of an attorney to pull off, they still wanted it and they got their show.

All applause. All smiles. All over.

Once Obama became the presumptive nominee many Democrats were ready to put away the ammo and move on to the next challenge, all except some who’d fought hard and lost.

While a lot of Clinton supporters are choosing to back Obama, some are having a harder time getting excited about the senator. Others are still steadfast against voting for him.

Out of curiosity and a desire for better understanding, I reached out to some Clinton supporters to better understand what were the issues that caused them to view the Democratic Primary the way they did and why they would or would not support Barack Obama for president. Two female bloggers, Red Queen and Redstar who post at The Hillary 1000 blog, responded, answering my questions about how an individual can go from seeing the primary’s two biggest stars as a double-positive to a negative net loss.

Both women, strong progressives with Liberal leanings, picked Clinton over Obama because of her mental toughness, age and experience with Redstar admitting that because of the candidate’s similar stances Clinton’s gender was a deciding factor. But in the beginning both women liked the candidates.

“I, like many, thought a Clinton/Obama ticket could set us the Dems up nicely for 16 years,” Redstar wrote. “(A) female candidate and a person of color candidate? AWESOME. I sent them both $100 in July 2007, and proudly wore a Clinton pin and Obama sticker at the Congressional Black Caucus annual conference in September 2007.”

“I was excited,” Red Queen wrote. “(OMG a black guy and a white women- how freaking awesome is that!) Even though I was an Edwards supporter.”

Redstar wrote on her blog favorably of both Clinton and Obama’s agendas for families, but as the campaign wore on she preferred how Clinton “tacked pretty hard to the left” and “emerged as the more progressive of the two candidates.” She also liked the fact that Clinton relentlessly attacked the Bush Administration “no holds barred,” adding that she has “always preferred (Hillary’s) partisanship to Obama’s message.”

“I’m a partisan animal, and want justice, retribution, payback and aggressive partisan leadership after the Bush oligarchy,” Redstar wrote. “Seriously, our world is a TOTAL mess and I cannot for the life of me imagine playing nice with the GOP.

Late last fall, Redstar felt herself becoming disenchanted with Obama. His message of unity, hope and change fell on deaf, cynical ears.

“Post-partisan/bi-partisan rhetoric NEVER worked for me,” she wrote. “Obama lost me in part because I felt set up, i.e., his rhetoric didn’t match up with his record as a politician (all his “present” votes, for instance didn’t leave me with a lot of faith in his leadership potential).

“Furthermore, and I think this had a big impact on me, the ethnic/gender compositions of the Presidential campaign staffs were released (for Dems and GOP). Clinton’s staff was majority female and majority non-white. Obama’s in comparison was 80% male and 60% white. I think I just fell out of love early on with him as another typical (politician), and likely in part because he was running as an atypical (politician).”

For Red Queen it was also Clinton’s fighting spirit that inspired her.

“In late December I saw a clip of Clinton on Wall Street Week where she laughed in the face of Maria Barteromo,” she wrote. “When Clinton started talking about plans for the helping people in foreclosure, I remembered why I liked her. The more I heard her plans and saw her speak, the more I liked.”

Both were disappointed by Clinton’s loss. Redstar has decided to begrudgingly support Obama, struggling to get excited about the campaign.

“He’s the nominee. And I keep reminding myself that I would have been excited to vote for him if I hadn’t gotten so excited about Clinton,” she wrote me in an e-mail exchange. “I may still be excited on Nov. 4th, who knows. I’m also ninety-five percent sure I’m going to vote for him, but there’s still a part of me that wonders if in the privacy of the voting booth I won’t.

“I doubt it, but there’s a nagging voice in my head that I should be taking a stand over the misogyny leveled by the media and tolerated by the (Democratic) Party and used to advantage by Obama. I’m honestly conflicted over this, but I can’t really imagine not voting for Obama. I’d really like to see his family in the Oval Office more than I’d like to see him govern.”

The level of sexism in the media and the trench warfare of the primary was a huge issue for both bloggers. Both were surprised how insults lobbed at her were tolerated. Red Queen, who said she would not vote for Obama, could not get past a statement he made about women “periodically feeling down” in reference to Clinton. She felt it was code for women being too emotional.

“The misogyny in that statement made me start questioning,” Red Queen wrote. “The more I looked into Obama and the less I liked him.

“Had he come out and apologized for it, I might not have gone through the trouble of looking more closely into his views and campaign tactics. But once I did, I knew there was no way i could ever vote for him.”

Red Queen felt her views and concerns were being shoved aside for Obama’s political ascension, leading her to not support him as a protest of the Democratic Party’s silence, and to her, endorsement, of sexism.

“(I)t is against my own best interest to support a party that uses misogyny as a campaign tool,” she said. “I have been stalked and harassed and called more sexist insults by Obama supporters than any Republican. Then there is the classism. I’m a poor working class white woman. Obama has made it clear that the only thing the Dems have to offer me is threats and insults if I refuse to vote the party line.”

Redstar, while working to get over the loss, also repeated the same themes of shock and disappointment over the party’s lack of defense for Clinton.

“My biggest source of ambivalence about voting for him in the fall is less about him and more about the way the (p)arty app
aratus lined up around him and stood too silently about Clinton’s treatment in the media … (E)ven a few participated – Steve Cohen, for (example),” she wrote.

“All of this post-Clinton suspension discussion of the sexism during the campaign, and her role as a sacrificial ground breaker for future women is really salt in my wounds. Right, now it’s safe to talk about misogyny and gender. Spare me. I really think the Party has calcified and is headed in the wrong direction with politics generally in this country, and Obama hasn’t brought any new faces or ideas into the mix, from what I can tell, other than young voters.”

Asked if there was an issue or an action Obama could partake to win them over, Redstar said she would, “really love to have him reach out to the most angry, entrenched Clinton supporters who don’t plan to vote for him.”

“I’ve seen nothing to indicate that he’s paying attention to these voters, and that he considers them anything other than fringe, emotional lunatics (and women) who need some time to cool off,” she wrote.

“His campaign gives off the impression that this is either a) Clinton’s responsibility or b) not necessary because he doesn’t need these votes to win. I think this is hard-headed and irresponsible. Would it honestly take so much to schedule a conference call with these diehard supporters? If McCain can do it (shamelessly), can’t Obama?”

But while Redstar can bridge the gap, for Red Queen there’s nothing Obama could do to win her over, writing that “(a)t this point, that ship has sailed. I don’t reward sexists, racists or classists with my vote — ever.”

“I’m voting for Cynthia McKinney of the green party. I’ve always liked the Green platform and I thought McKinney was a fiery and awesome presence in the house,” Red Queen wrote. “I don’t feel that a vote for McKinney is wasted (or a vote for McCain). Strong, progressive leaders need to be rewarded with our votes, even if it doesn’t lead to their actual election.”

In this primary things went from politics to personal and while the winners can hold their heads high in victory, the longer race cannot be won with members of the Democratic coalition divorced from the process.

If healing is to begin the concerns and feelings of the former opposition can not be dumped aside with the reasoning that time heals all wounds. All wounds could turn to old wounds that fester and become sore with every poke and provocation. The sexism that attacked Clinton yesterday has its sights set on Michelle Obama today. The party made a fatal error in seeing sexism as a phantom menace because of Clinton’s political potency.

It is a relief that the Democratic Primary is over. And while the Kumbaya moment of Clinton and Obama together may have settled some concerns, no matter what is said on TV we are still some way to go before love conquers all.

To read Redstar’s full statements on Clinton and Obama click here. To read Red Queen’s full statements, click here. What do you think of the views of Clinton supporters struggling to support Obama?

17 thoughts on “Can We Still Be Friends?

  1. Really, what is the point? Neither Red Queen nor Redstar said they were voting for McCain, but Matthew, who I am sure read the article twice, moving his lips all the while, is convinced they did. Anyone who, just a scant 23 days after suspension, has either not decided or cannot support the presumptive nominee, is a “moron” an “embarrassment” who “still sulks” for Clinton and “trumps up false accusations of sexism” Sigh..he doesn’t even see his own comments as sexist or offensive. Supporters like these can only do their candidate irreparable harm. Old hippies still wearing berets – please!

  2. You need to remember that Matthew is the same person who contionuously stalked Red Queen, to the point where he created a parody of her website and went around spamming its address on all blogs that were linked to hers, including my own.I know Red is planning legal action against him.

  3. To continue my comment since my browser crashed:I thank you for being one of the reasonable Obama supporters out there. Unfortunately, at least on the internet, the Matthew types are a lot more numerous than people like you.Now ask yourself if you would like to be associated with people who treat you like that. Then proceed to ask yourself whether the rampant mysoginy the Obama campaign, Michelle Obama and Barack Obama himself have shown is anything that we should want to be associated with.Yes, there are some Hillary supporters that would rather vote for Mc Cain than OBama. Do you know why? Because McCain did not insult us, did not act like he was entitled to our votes and sure as hell did not allow his supporters to harass us.Why would we vote for someone who doesn’t respect us?

  4. I got really excited to see some comments up here, then realized the first was from RQ’s stalker-troll, Matthew.:(And here I thought we might get to have some interesting conversation over at here Ms. Snob’s place.And his parody site is listed in the comment above. Black Snob – I don’t know what your moderation policy is, but the website listed in Matthew’s is a false one deliberately created to slander Red Queen. If it’s within the bounds of your comments policy and you can take it down, that’d be greatly appreciated.

  5. Yeah, I was a tad confused by Matthew’s response too, considering pretty much nothing he mentioned was in the article. Especially the “voting for McCain” part. Redstar is going to vote for Obama and Red Queen is voting for Cynthia McKinney, so really, he seems like a douche. I’ll take it down since he’s being slanderous and obviously did not read the post.

  6. BTW: The only commenting policy I have is “(D)on’t be a douche. Ass hat behavior is not tolerated.”I still let some people be somewhat douche-y, but I try to work around them as much as possible. Other than that I’m pretty much pro-comment what you want.For the most part, almost everyone who comments on this blog are pretty nice and play fairly. I love my commenters. I wish more of my readers would comment, because I know I have more readers than commenters. (All of you lurkers! Just lurking and never commenting!)But I still love them. They rock.

  7. Thanks for removing his comment.Yes the lurkers!! Every once and a while I’d try to get them to announce themselves on my old blog, but it usually failed. Pesky little fans, those lurkers. 🙂

  8. Great post. RQ is a good blogging buddy to me and I love her spirit and fight. She thinks a lot about things and that is so rare these days.As for Matthew, honestly. It’s an old tired act. Give it up.

  9. great post. during the whole course of the campaign i was/is a luke warm supporter if whoever won the nomination.but that’s probably my male privilege showing.I’ve become a regular reader of Red Queen’s to hopefully learn a bit more not about politics per se but the condition we find ourselves in 2008.

  10. Thanks for both a wonderful article and for not allowing stalkers to prosper. That kind of behavior from Obama supporters (the stalking, harassing, abusive misogyny)is probably a huge part of the reason that I cannot vote for Obama, even with nose held. I know lots of people think that Obama is not directly responsible for these types. But I believe that you are responsible for the environment you create. And Obama has created an environment where misogyny is seen as a valid campaign tool. I can’t support that.

  11. Red Queen: I purposely avoided the more virulent supporters on both sides otherwise I’d be voting for no one.I’m primarily an issues oriented voter. I tend to be rather dispassionate about the politicians themselves because of their human failings, although it would be dishonest to say I’m not interested in seeing a black president.Obama and Clinton were so similar on the issues that it really came down to a war of personalities and personal tastes. I’d decided I was voting against the Republican before the election, so I tried not to let the viciousness of the campaign cloud my better judgment.I wish things hadn’t careened off the deep end, but when two candidates are so close ideologically but have vastly different campaigning and delegating styles, this was bound to happen. Fists were going to fly to solidify the reasons why you were going to vote Clinton or vote Obama. I just cringed my way through it.

  12. Black Snob- I understand the cringing and getting through it. Sometimes I wish that I could do that in this election. But it’s more than just “my candidate didn’t win” that prevents me from it. I mean, I didn’t like Kerry at all but had no problem vocally supporting him and voting for him last time around. And it’s not that I’m naive about politics. It’s brutal and dirty business. But the brutality is usually confined to the actual politicians. This time though, it seems an deep vein of hate in our own party has been tapped and is drowning the rest of us. And that scares me. That kind of hate has done horrible things in the world before.

  13. Red Queen: I have a theory as to why things got so ugly and it pretty much points to what Clinton and Obama individually represented — progress for women and minorities in politics. (This coupled with “Obamamania.” I like Obama, but there are some individuals who make us all look like Moonies.) But with the gender and racial aspect, young/old, future/past elements people who’d played on the same team together to elect Democrats turned to personal attacks and bullying to get their constituencies in line to vote for guy/gal. What I’ve wondered is (and this is a chicken v. egg question) — who went crazy first? Because it was the insanity level that caused individuals within both camps to sour on the opposing team.I expected some people to be sexist and disparaging towards Sen. Clinton because that’s happened to her routinely throughout her career. And I expected some people to ridicule Obama as a political novice or say covert/overtly racist things about him. But I didn’t expect the INSANITY on all sides and the stormtrooper aggressive, boot-to-your-neck tactics wielded by a variety supporters who flew into a fit of pique if you even uttered the opposition’s name.That’s what I didn’t expect. That was crazy. So I wonder who went bad? Or what went bad? I will say this though, it did not surprise me that those of stature in the Democratic Party were aligning themselves with Obama as the campaign progressed. Both Clintons are larger than life figures and while Fmr. Pres. Clinton was a successful two term president, there has to be a lot of resentment among large pockets of the party who have always had issues with them, felt he was too much of a Centrist, hogged too much of the attention and did nothing to benefit the party. People who thought this way were more than happy to dump them once they thought they’d found a more viable option in Obama. I think a mixture of that annoyance/resentment fueled the tepid response to complaints of sexism on the trail and in the media. It was a little odd to hear people talk in the press as if Clinton supporters were making up the sexism part. Especially considering that pre-January the party brass would have responded quicker and with more authority to the sexism.But that lack of (or disinterest in) oversight caused many members of the press to never question their “douche-baggery” over Clinton and read the party silence as an endorsement of the belief that the sexism claims were non-issues.

  14. I don’t know who came first on it either. And I don’t know that “Bust she/he started it!” arguments fix the real problem. There was/is so much on all sides. I am just as disgusted with certain Democratic anti-Obama blogs that keep circulating “Whitey” stories and things questions about Obama’s birth certificate as I am with stalkerbots and trolls. I think it’s we’ve missed a huge opportunity. Our country is at a crossroads. We have 8 straight years of near total conservative control of the country and we are now seeing what that kind of abuse and neglect Republican policies have on things like infrastructure and economics. We have endless examples of Republican policies fail again and again and again. The Dems could have choosen to go Rooseveltian. Big plans, optimism, social justice. And right now the country is ripe for just that. Instead, the people in power chose to follow the lead of the Republicans. I certainly expected that who ever won would be subject to either Clinton Derangement syndrome or Scary Black Muslim stereotyping. But I expected that from Republicans. Not from our own party. It’s a huge waste of an opportunity to do real good in this country to take that route. It’s also extremely hurtful to real people. There is no longer a choice of a party that believes in secular humanism, equality, freedom and opportunity for all (imperfect as their methods may have been) vs. hate, classism, racism, religiosity, and profits over people. We now just have two flavors of hate to choose from. And for many of us (working class people, some women, Latin@s) there is no longer a party that gives a rats ass about us. It’s been made clear (being one of the receivers of Donna Brazile’s unreadable blackberry messages about getting over it- I think real clear) that we either shut up or go away. Until the moment Obama got the nom, Obama was not the Democratic party. But as the presidential nominee, it is up to him to change the awful course the party is on. And I haven’t seen any evidence of that. Especially after today’s faith based programs thing and last weeks Fisa debacle. And thank you for a chance to discuss this without being called a dumb slut or a racist. It really is a nice change.

  15. Red Queen: What you’re describing is part of the bigger problem in which the populist ideas that made the Democratic Party so dominant and successful from the 1930s through the 1960s, have been demonized so aptly by the far right that many Democrats are terrified to actually offer a contrast between them and the Republicans.Hence all the harried grasping for the center.The party’s answer to frequent losing bids for the presidency was to move more and more to the center-right because many of the things associated with the political Left (feminism, liberalism, labor unions, etc.) were effectively demagogued by conservatives.What’s strange to me (and has always been strange) is that the Democrats have never pointed out some of the extremes the conservatives, especially Christian/economic conservatives, have gone to, pushing the party so far right that the Dem’s centrist stance sometimes seems revolutionary by comparison. When you take out the code words and just write out what the ideas and beliefs are people tend to like them. They just don’t want to be “labeled.” It’s like women who don’t think they’re feminists, but believe in equal work for equal pay, the right to vote, no means no and that sexual harassment/sexual violence are bad. These are the issues feminism is built around, but the word has been soooo attacked that people have become divorced from it.That’s why so many people are trying to reinvest in the label “progressive” because Liberal got the crap kicked out of it.I feel if the Democrats actually picked a political philosophy then pointed to how extreme a Republican has to be to appease the individuals who think corporate welfare and “Intelligent Design” are good ideas they’d find that a lot of people are hanging out with Republicans do so because they have no better options.You just can’t convince me that a plurality of Americans are against a government program to deal with healthcare. Or that they wanted the government to bail out Bear Sterns, but tell the middle class to eat the cost of their declining home values.Moving towards the center to the point where you’re almost indistinguishable from the competition is an extremely lame idea. Even more so considering that had a lot to do with why Gore lost in 2000. So I was also disappointed by Barack’s latest move towards the center, but not surprised. The Right is doing their best to demagogue him as an elitist, black radical, “whitey” hating, terrorist appeasing, limp-wristed lefty. This is pretty much standard operating procedure for Dems to “prove” they’re not beholding to “the left,” as if we actually dominated the party.So I understand. I just wonder if big ideas like Roosevelt’s could get off the ground in today’s “Cover Yer Nuts!” Democratic environment. Even good things, like providing health care to sick kids, become a wedge issue. And it doesn’t matter that a majority of Americans are for it. The sheer lunacy and cowardice displayed over things like SCHIP rules the day.Thankfully, things look a bit better for Liberals and progressives on the local and state level. We still dominate the internet blogosphere. Maybe if that keeps happening the national party will stop shitting bricks and do something productive.And you’re welcome. I just don’t feel the need to start busting people in the chops who I agreed with on almost everything seven months ago. The chicanery of this election cycle has not rendered me unable to keep up my political pragmatism.

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