As a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s throughout the primary, I was told that my candidate, and her supporters (myself included) were somehow destroying the party. That we were going to cost the Democrats the election and divide the party irreparably. That somehow forcing an extended primary through Pennsylvania, and Indiana, and North Carolina would hurt us in those states. Remember Kennedy in 1980 – as if the problem wasn’t Carter in 1980 – I was told. You’re not a real Democrat.
While I did make an electoral argument for Hillary, I never believed that Obama couldn’t win, or couldn’t win Jewish voters, or white women, or working folks, or whatever the most important demographic evar might have been at that particular moment. I think you have to vote issues in the primary, or you never get the chance. So, yeah, I supported the candidate who supported universal health care, had the better plans for the environment, and who I thought would be better for the middle class. I’m still glad I supported someone who was in favor of those things, although as I said during the primary, those are differences in degree and not differences in kind that we had with McCain.
I always promised to work like hell for whoever the nominee was, and I’m glad to say I delivered. I don’t know how many complete strangers I proudly told on the phone or at their door, “I’m a volunteer with the Obama campaign for change.” I’m also proud to say how well Hillary delivered: raising money for Obama, and many speeches (most notably her concession speech, the speech in Unity NH, and the convention speech) as well as local events all across the country.
The truth is that a tough primary is often good for the party engaged in it. It gets supporters riled up, and it forces candidates to articulate their positions. It means that the media can’t just ignore them. As Melissa says:
Despite the frenetic din of pleading, scolding, haranguing, begging, admonishing and outright mockery that was aimed at Clinton during the primary as she stubbornly refused to concede a primary that she hadn’t actually lost, and despite the grim hand-wringing that a long primary would irreparably damage presumed nominee Obama, none of the grave warnings of the take-your-boobs-and-go-homers came to fruition. In fact, by engaging late-primary states like Indiana which haven’t helped choose a nominee in decades, the extended primary actually helped wake up Obama voters sooner than usual. It forced them to pay attention to the minutiae of Democratic policies early in the election, and gave the Obama campaign the opportunity to test and perfect its ground operation. The result? Indiana is blue for the first time in 40 years.
I was never worried about a primary against Maria Cantwell 2 years ago. And I was kind of disappointed that there wasn’t much of one in the 8th. The truth is, they’re almost always good.