The Feminine Mistake
By Catherine Morgan
Last Saturday, Clark County Dems gathered for our county convention to elect our delegates for the congressional district and state conventions. It was also an opportunity for Hillary and Obama supporters to switch sides if they so chose (few did).
Like any Democratic gathering, it was a zoo: organized in the macro sense, getting everyone badged and out on the gym floor, but turning to chaos when it got down to action. Where was the 49th supporters supposed to caucus? Were the Hillary delegates upstairs or down? What to do about the delegates in wheelchairs who couldn’t get into the stands?
But one thing was crystal clear: the makeup of the Hillary contingent. There were very few non-white faces among them, and those under 60 amounted to less than a handful. Males counted for even less.
Conversely, Obama's supporters were every age, race, and ran the spectrum of gender and sexual orientation.
Because I'm a woman, I'm uncomfortable blogging about this, but given the results of yesterday's Pennsylvania primary, I have to:
[M]ore than 60% of Clinton voters say they wouldn't be happy if Obama were the nominee; about half of Obama voters say the same. 25% of Clinton supporters say they’d vote for McCain in the general election; 17% of Obama supporters say they’d vote for McCain in the general election.
Obama's voters are looking toward Obama as a standard bearer, as a point man for the change they want to see in the country. Hillary's supporters, at least the older women among them, are voting for their surrogate: because they want to see a woman in the Oval Office before they die, and because they themselves were denied so many opportunities for advancement in their own lives.
You could see it in the eyes of the supporters who came over to the Obama side to try and win converts, that fragile hopefulness that verges on pleading. Can't you see it's our last chance?
I do not doubt that they also desperately believe in Hillary Clinton, but their investment in her goes much deeper than politics. Hillary Clinton is proof that they had it in them all along, the fire, talent and creativity, and they could have been leaders but for the glass ceiling that seemed to rise only inches a decade.
Some of Hillary's supporters are women I know and love, and I understand their yearning. But if Pennsylvania polls are any guide, many of these women don't even think Hillary will be the eventual nominee - but they're sticking with her anyway.
And that's a mistake too far.
We cannot afford another 4 years of war, debt and economic stagnation, the prescription of a McCain presidency. So we Dems cannot allow Clinton voters to take their ball and go home come November.
The idea of the so-called "dream ticket" of Clinton-Obama makes me nearly nauseous, picturing Bill shouldering a VP Obama out of the way, or a VP Clinton huddling with Bill over in the Executive Office Building a là Cheney, maintaining her own shadow presidency and undermining the Oval Office.
But if that is what we have to do to win, I'm willing to suck it up. Because the alternative - a McCain presidency - is unacceptable.
What we Dems on the Obama side need to do in the meantime is to let these Hillary voters know how much we respect their accomplishments, and understand their need to see one of their own make it to the top. We have to lead them back with the issues that have made them Democrats in the first place: equality, choice, strong public schools, health care, and economic security.
If we do not build some kind of bridge, McCain will have his hand on that bible come next January 20th - and nobody wants that.