Unity Begins At the Grassroots

Kristin Teigen

I’m really not in the mood to write this. A couple of my favored candidates lost on Tuesday, and you know, I really wanted Steve Novick to be my senator. Then, Hillary Clinton made one of the most unforgivable comments I’ve heard made in political discourse. I’m more than a little furious at her and generally, a bit grumpy.

I’m also worried. I don’t know how in the world the Clinton and Obama camps will ever come together in a show of force against McCain, considering the animosity on both sides. Are the wounds inflicted so deep that the scar tissue will remain? Will the anger forever disfigure the Democratic Party during a time that should be our finest hour?

Then, as I was venting about Clinton this morning, my older sister sent me an e-mail. She wrote to me about party unity, and I realized it’s time to grow up. What she said was this –

“It’s immature for people to wait for the dad or mom of the party to tell them to play nice together and get along….societal divisions need to be addressed both by the people on the ground and policy that addresses the class, race, gender and age issues that are helping fuel the divisions.”

Being the younger sibling, it’s a drag having to admit that my sister is right, but she is.

I keep expecting Clinton and Obama to forge some sort of peace, to walk on-stage holding hands, and speak of a bigger picture. They aren’t doing that, at least not yet. And yes, it would be so easy to point a finger at one or the other, but if we do that (and as we do that), the divisions are just becoming deeper and deeper. In the process, we’re deepening divisions among race and gender, class and region.

If the candidates aren’t going to unify, we need to. Unity needs to be a forged from the bottom-up. The grassroots activists, the bloggers, those who chat in offices and playgrounds and stores, can begin creating what we want the Democratic Party to be not just by advocating for the candidate of our choice, but by creating the tone we want to permeate this campaign.

So, I’ll start. I’ll speak of the opposing candidate in civil ways, and I won’t write posts that create divisions. I’ll work for whoever gets the nomination. I’ll give the nominee money and pound the pavement. I’ll do whatever I can. Most importantly, what energy I have been directing at fighting the other candidate, I will now use to fight John McCain. We have no choice but to win.

As I write this, I can think of a dozen things the other candidate has done that have left me outraged. It’s not going to be easy. But then again, it isn’t always easy to grow up.

Comments

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Did you actually watch the video where Clinton made the comments? Or are you just following our short-attention-span media's latest trivial fixation? I assume the latter. This might provide some context.

  • Dan (unverified)
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    Hillary Clinton made one of the most unforgivable comments I’ve heard made in political discourse.

    Interesting beginning to a call for unity. I've waited my whole life for a candidate like Hillary. I can deal with her loosing, but it is difficult to frequently hear fellow democrats describing her actions as though they were observed through a lens of contempt. It is profoundly painful.

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    Yes, Peter, I did actually watch the video and yes, Dan, that's how I feel but I'm still going to call for unity. Even though I don't really feel like it. I acknowledge and appreciate your respect toward Clinton.

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    The Hillary haters are not doing Obama any favors. By ranting and raving and stirring up passions, they are making it harder to unify the party, and therefore harder to get Senator Obama elected as President. We will need all the Democrats, not just the Obama voters, to win this election.

    I sure wish people would take a minute to look at the bigger picture.

    Thanks for your post, Kristin.

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    I don’t know how in the world the Clinton and Obama camps will ever come together in a show of force against McCain, considering the animosity on both sides.

    I hope this isn't naive, but I don't think it's going to be that hard for Clinton and Obama folks to come together, at least in Oregon. We had a hard-fought -- but respectful -- primary. The Clinton camp deserves a lot of credit for staying positive and focused on the issues for the Oregon campaign. They ran a tough campaign, but were always fair.

    In our own tiny corner of the blogosphere, I think things will settle down quickly after the race is finalized in a few weeks. As an Obama partisan, I don't have any hard feelings toward my Clinton brothers and sisters. I hope that feeling is mutual. I have a lot of respect for their online efforts here on Blue Oregon, especially given how overwhelmingly pro-Obama our readers are. Having them show up and be part of the conversation made it a lot more interesting place the past few months. It'd be a shame if they didn't continue to participate here as part of our community.

  • naschkatzehussein (unverified)
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    I read many threads, and Clinton supporters are coming over to Obama. Rep. Cardoza, D-CA is the tip of the iceberg of superdelegates coming over to Obama. All things are not equal, Ms. Teigen, as you try to create that impression. Clinton is losing, and the majority of her supporters who are true Democrats are coming over to the other camp.

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    We political junkies and avid Blue Oregon readers often forget that the vast bulk of people who support either candidate are a lot less involved and committed as we are. The bulk of Clinton supporters will move over and support Obama. In fact polls show that they are already doing so. It is the last 25% of hard core Clintonites that will need to be wooed. This will be difficult as long as Hillary is running, because they have developed a strong loyaty to her.

    What we need to do as Obama supporters is to keep in mind that the objective is to win votes. This requires winning independents, Republicans, and Hillary supporters. You do that by being polite to people and listening to their concerns, not by telling them how terrible their heroine is.

    In addition, being nice to people is just the right thing to do, even if you don't like what the other person did or said. Why can't we do that? After all, it's what Obama is calling for. If you believe in Obama, you should practice what he preaches.

  • p (unverified)
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    Why Woo them. Let them go. If they want to vote for McCain, vote against Obama and/ or work against him as threatened, that is their absolute right. let's show them the door and nicely tell them. Dont let it hit you in the ass on the way out. Now, is that nice enough

  • p (unverified)
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    Why Woo them. Let them go. If they want to vote for McCain, vote against Obama and/ or work against him as threatened, that is their absolute right. let's show them the door and nicely tell them. Dont let it hit you in the ass on the way out. Now, is that nice enough

  • KTDM (unverified)
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    P, I think the point is that no, it's not nice enough. We can't afford to lose anyone, and we have to recognize the stakes here. Time to open doors, woo support, suck it up, and be humble enough to realize that the so-called "other side" (hilarious when you look at the ACTUAL policy differences between the two) has good reasons for believing what they do. If we can't do that within our own party, how will we ever expect to govern differently than the marginalizing Republicans have the last 8 years? Fostering an atmosphere of inclusivity is crucial right now, and as Kristin says, it's time to create the tone.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    The narrative today from Camp Clinton is all about the martyrdom and victimization of Hillary designed to inflame her followers. This will result in defections from her elected supporters, but, if, as reported, she intends to go to the convention singing the victimization song, then the dead enders will simply do what they do, and act out of spite and self-destruct, or abandon her.

    But as we know, this as always been about her, and not the country or the party. "It's her turn." So at the grass roots if her supporters buy into that, not much to be done. If they want to elect a progressive Democratic ticket from top to bottom, then unity at the grass roots is possible.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    But as we know, this as always been about her, and not the country or the party. "It's her turn."

    What great insight.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    So Ms Tiegan you saw the video and you still think that Clinton "made one of the most unforgivable comments [you've] heard made in political discourse"?

    If that's truly the case, and unless the purpose of your "front page" status here is to present the views of the seriously uninformed, perhaps you should get to the library and read a couple years worth of NY Times before you post such breathless hokum again.

    (For starters, you might look over headlines regarding controversial statements from Lott, Helms, Davis, Bush, Reagan, Quayle, et al.)

    At the very least, it might be worthwhile, in posts extolling party unity, to not attack other party members and their supporters.

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    Peter,

    You and I disagree. The difference is that I have never attacked you. Based upon the tone of this and other comments you've made on other posts, I'm not, at this point, engaging you.

    Feel free to use your blog, or submit a guest post if you want to express your own views.

    Peter, have a GREAT day!!!

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)
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    Please Peter Bray, climb down off your high horse of indignation; at least Kristin is trying to reach out. She has a right to point out the difficulty of our task given the behavior of your heroine. The attack was Senator Clinton's.

    Kristin points out that we need to get over it; you seem to have let that sail right over your head.

  • LT (unverified)
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    As someone who was in college in the 1960s, I want to introduce a "radical" notion here.

    40 years ago we were dealing with something a lot worse than someone we admired losing an election---we were dealing with the killing of Martin Luther King followed by Bobby Kennedy not that many weeks later. Some of us were dealing with friends maimed or killed in Vietnam, or with the effects of riots or other civil unrest where locally. It was a very contentious time.

    Just now on the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS, the next to the last song was something which I have always found inspirational. I connect it to 1968, but according to this lyrics website, it is more than 40 years old.

    http://members.tripod.com/~Synergy_2/lyrics/ponearth.html

    The song is Let There Be Peace On Earth, and Let It Begin With Me

    Not always an easy program to follow, but it is why some of us over the years have tried to live by the ideas in this song.

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    Thanks Kristin.

    Being a Hillary critic is not the same as being a Hillary hater. I'm a Hillary critic; I'm also an Obama critic, though I voted for him.

    It should be acknowledged that there are an awful lot of "Obama haters" out there too, who look at him through "a lens of contempt."

    Overcoming these dynamics is going to take work. Thanks Kristin for taking up some of that work. Peter, you may not like exactly what she said, but speaking of big pictures, I encourage you to step back and re-read her piece with the idea that it is not you, or Hillary or Merkley supporters, who are its main audience. Its main audience, as I read it, is disappointed Novick supporters and people for whom what was apparently obvious to you about Hillary's words being entirely unproblematic or completely minor.

    It's a nice essay as far as I am concerned documenting in very blog-like fashion an effort to use reason to reshape emotional responses in a more constructive direction. Since my struggles are more similar to Kristin's than yours are, perhaps, it may be that the essay is more valuable to me.

    In a vein of credit where credit is due, Hillary Clinton wrote in the New York Daily News "if Sen. Obama wins the nomination, I will support him and work my heart out for him against John McCain."

    We should respond positively to this. Like Kristin, I will work for whoever gets the nomination.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Obviously this posting is about much more than the Obama/Clinton contest.

    Mr. Bray, I once favored Hillary Clinton and only belatedly came around to favoring Barack Obama, and one of the reasons I switched is that, yes indeed, I got fed up with the way Hillary Clinton and her spouse projected the idea that the Democratic Party somehow owed her the nomination. It's not about her. It's not about Barack Obama, either. It's about picking a candidate who will promote the ideals of the Democratic Party and take the battle to the GOP. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both flawed human beings--just like me, just like Peter Bray. Each of us sees the candidates' flaws differently.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Clearly if the posting here is any indicator, unity at the grass roots is not going to happen until the Clinton campaign folds its tent and accepts reality. There will be no Obama/Clinton ticket. So that fact also needs to be accepted. Does anyone really think Clinton wants to be VP? There might well be a Hillary Clinton in the cabinet as director of Health and Human Services. So Clinton and her supporters have the option of joining with the Dem. victory this fall or being spoilers out of spite.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    The day Hillary quits the FL/MI drumbeat and quits blaming DNC for the mess SHE inflamed I'll be satisfied to let her go misrepresent NY since they did like her. If she wants to keep that up, I can wait until after the GE to help with any project with the stated aim of placing her in the dustbin of meaningless historical names.

    SHE is the one trying to freeze her supporters and blow FL/MI off the electoral map. SHE is the one who acts as though she's holding a detonator in front of the DNC. There are Hillary supporters and there are Hilloons and only one group is subject to reason. You can forget the others and start working on NAs, Indies, & left Republicans because the Hilloons aren't going to play and the best you'll get is if they stay home.

    As for Peter Bray, I can't remember the last time he was about anything other than sowing discord.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)
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    Please Chuck, we need not call names; you're better than that!

    I know there will be an irreducible remnant of diehard partisans, but there are so many more that will take offense and be discouraged from continued engagement. That is not necessary to discourage their behavior which is damaging the party. Worse, you could do damage yourself. I so admire your passion; please don't let it carry you astray.

  • Tom in L.A. (unverified)
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    Hey Kristin, I don't mean this to be as harsh as it may sound in email, but if you really want to grow up, stop thinking in terms of political parties and the products that they call candidates. Real change happens on a much deeper level than that. Nothing is more 1.0 than party loyalty or infatuation with personalities. I've been politically active for forty years and I can tell you that none of these three candidates, none of whom I'm terribly impressed with, are going to make much happen as long as we approach them like grateful children. As Bob Dylan said, "Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters." (He also warned, "Everyone is shouting, 'Which side are you on?'.") P.S. One thing I can't resist adding in writing to a Pacific Northwest blog: Please watch that clip in watch Obama brags about -- and gets cheers for! -- not knowing what the hell the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is. In fact, he voted yes on a bill to clean it up, but apparently doesn't remember doing so.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)
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    Tom is hip & clueless; so L. A.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Kristin writes, "So, I’ll start. I’ll speak of the opposing candidate in civil ways, and I won’t write posts that create divisions."

    How middle class of you. We must play "nice".

    I'm from a working class background, and everytime I hear this middle class dribble, I want to puke.

    Politics is what we do in lieu of warfare. It is not "nice". There is a titanic battle going on, and you want us to speak softly, don't ruffle the feathers, and come out the other end on a friendly basis. And you call this "civil".

    I for one would like the gloves to come off. Not just between Obama and Clinton, but between them and McCain. I don't see how you can have it both ways. A winner wins, and a loser loses. There is no "civil" middle. History has taught us that when you leave you enemies strong, they just attack you again.

    I never want to see a Clinton run for President again, as I think their pandering, manipulating, lies, etc. are not what I want in my national politics. No "nice" there at all.

    I want to see Obama crush McCain, so that Obama has a mandate from the American people for change. No "nice" there either.

    I'm really, really tired of having middle class people impose their value that "bickering" is what is wrong with America, and try to impose that light weight vanilla view on the rest of us. What is wrong is that we hold back on a strong punch, that we don't draw blood, and that we don't finally vanquish our enemies - letting them "Swift boat" us again and again.

    It is time for a real change, final change, victory - not vanilla ice cream.

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    Steve,

    Please don't be so incredibly patronizing. I am working class, too -- the entire working class culture does not belong to nor can it be defined solely by you.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)
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    Civility is what keeps our civiization from declining into barbarism and totalitarianism. Those who see opponents and dissenters within their own ranks as enemies are marching smartly away from civilization and into the Dark Ages.

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    This is the crux of our situation. Steve is right to say that politics is what we do in lieu of warfare. And Ed is right that civility is what keeps us from sliding back into barbarism and totalitarianism.

    So how do we reconcile such diametrically opposed concepts? I don't know. But both men's arguments have the ring of truth and there has to be a unifying theory which encompasses both concepts.

    I hope that someone more eloquent than I will posit a unifying theory because my gut is screaming that encompassing both concepts into one theory is foundational and important and without it many of us are doomed to, at best, talk past each other.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Kristin - I don't see where its patronizing to speak for myself - I never agreed to represent the entire working class.

    You don't either - Your Blue Oregon profile -

    "Kristin Teigen left Oregon almost two decades ago to be a political activist in San Francisco and Washington DC, and worked for, among others, CISPES, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Organization for Women. She returned with the hubby about ten years ago, both ready for a garden, a family and a bit of fresh air. She worked in Oregon for few noble causes before chucking the nonprofit grind to become a grad student at PSU. She's finishing up degrees in History and Education, but really, her main job is taking care of two adorable boys as a stay-at-home mom."

    If that's working class, I'll eat my goat ropers hat. Sure, I have degrees too, I have worked for non-profits too, and I have a wife and son too - but I am still a part of a culture where men are expected to give up their bodies as a routine part of work, where men and women both have to work out of the home to afford to live in a house, and where real conflict is dealt with, not swept under the rug.

    So, just who is doing the patronizing? Don't lecture me on morals!

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    Steve,

    I wasn't lecturing you -- I said that you did not have the right to speak for the entirety of working class culture -- in your post, you defined it as that which embraces conflict. You do not speak for me and I am working class. It's not up to you to decide whether I am or not.

    It is outrageously absurd and stereotypical to suggest that all stay at home mothers are middle or upper class. I'll tell that to my friend who is a stay at home mom, living off of $6,000 a year. Or my friend who is a stay at home mom but whose husband cleans houses to support the family, making around $25,000 a year. Or perhaps my mother, who was, for a time, a stay at home mom while my father worked as a butcher.

    Considering the minute profile on BlueOregon is all that you know about me, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

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    Besides, in my working class Norwegian culture, conflict of any kind was never mentioned or addressed. Working class culture is not monolithic.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Right on Kristin!

    "You do not speak for me and I am working class. It's not up to you to decide whether I am or not.

    It is outrageously absurd and stereotypical to suggest that all stay at home mothers are middle or upper class".

    No one ever inspired people to campaign for anything by stereotyping whole groups of people.

    For instance, I'm a woman who supports Obama for a whole list of reasons beginning with his inspirational speaking and then with listening to one of his books on audio book.

    There are women with the attitude "women should support Hillary" as if being born female limits one's choice of candidate. I've fought that battle for decades and any true "feminist" agrees individual women are allowed to make individual decisions.

    "If that's working class, I'll eat my goat ropers hat".

    Maybe people still talk about "working class" over in Central Oregon, but here in the W. Valley most people don't use that language. Many people, regardless of their station in life, are financially struggling. On the other hand, 2 people who do skilled labor (a welder married to a technician, for instance) might be able to raise kids on a good income while some of us with college degrees find permanent full time work hard to find.

    To my old friend Steve, I would only say that as another person with a degree who has done work that is physically taxing (incl. my current job which lasts another couple weeks and then I will have to find someone else), I think you are over-generalizing. The previous woman who held my current job has a toddler and was able to figure out how to care for enough other kids at home to be able to leave this job which has a strange schedule (making child care arrangements difficult, among other things) to be a stay at home Mom.

  • naschkatzehussein (unverified)
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    When Hillary Clinton stops playing dirty, we will stop attacking her. It's that simple. Unifying the party depends on her. We are not always going to turn the other cheek for Hillary, at least not the cheeks Jesus was talking about.

  • anon. college kid (unverified)
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    As an Obama volunteer, I can say that I've been dating a Hillary campaign intern. Talk about party unity.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    Ed, I was careful to separate who I was talking about. Hilloons or diehard supporters? No, I'm not talking about supporters, that is a different thing, diehard or otherwise. There is an active set on the net who spend their time winding each other up into a frenzy, to the point where you expect to see spit splattered on the screen. They are going to throw a tantrum no matter how nice you are, and they won't let you be nice to them. Your candidate had the nerve to run against their savior and is by definition, evil. Their percentage of the 35% who say they'll never vote Obama, probably not real large, but they exist and trying to do anything in regard to them is foolish. Now I chose Hilloon as a short hand and because I have no desire to try to analyze their psychological malfunction to come up with a clinical name. And no, they are not singular to the Clinton campaign.

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    anon. college kid -- i love it!

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    Kristin, Steve is just wrong to equate what you have written about being civil, within a Democratic context for the purpose of defeating McCain, with calls of whatever class character to "stop bickering." (Plenty of working class parents have said that to their kids, NTIM.)

    As you said, we need to be able to "put up a show of force." Maybe Steve would be happier if you called it solidarity, I don't know. But working class families know better than most about the need to unite despite differences in the face of adversity, and bad consequences if you don't. Same thing goes in workplace struggles with bad bosses (union or not).

    Being civil and being politic are closely related, as are civility and politics. Civility too is literally what we do in place of war. If you look at the origins of the ideas of civil rights and civil liberties, ultimately they lie in the grudging compromises achieved over a long period to bring to an end almost two centuries of religious civil wars in Europe over the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. And to begin with, they rose little past the most minimal definitions of tolerance and toleration.

    What you are talkig about, and rightly so, goes or could go a lot deeper than bickering.

    Somehow it appears that Steve managed to get a much bigger button of his pushed by what you wrote, that has very little to do with you. A moment's reflection on where you stood in the debates over Novick and Merkley, or your previous remarks on Hillary's latest shows that. And I doubt that working for CISPES, NGLTF and NOW are choices made by someone unwilling to fight and fight hard and take hits for what she believes in.

    Your post seems to me to be entirely about choosing one's fights; it's titled "Unity Begins at the Grassroots," not "Civility Begins..." or "Politeness Begins..." or "Making Nice Begins ..." Fighting McCain well, smart and successfully will take unity.

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    Chris,

    Thanks so very much. As I've said before, in my opinion, you are simply the most intelligent commenter on BlueOregon (and I'll say that even if we don't agree someday!).

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    There are three possible ways that this thing can be ended, ordered from least to most likely:

    Clinton suddenly admits that she lives in the real world where 2+2 actually equals 4, and admits that she has no chance, resigns gracefully and begins to urge her supporters to rally around the actual nominee.

    Clinton keeps running until "all the votes are counted" and redefines "all the votes" to mean all the votes cast within the framework of the rules that she pledged in writing to uphold, the primaries end on June 3rd and on the 4th all of the elected supers in DC declare their preferences enmasse. At that point she begins to urge her supporters to rally around the actual nominee.

    Clinton tries to take it all the way to the convention, using every strategem, no matter how improbable, illogical, or empirically unfair, to make her case that the upstart is stealing her nomination, but after the last primary all of the elected supers in DC declare their preferences enmasse and she is forced out by the math whether she accepts it or not.

    <hr/>

    For a lot of Clinton supporters at this point it is no longer about the respective records or policy positions of the two Democratic candidates. It has become about projecting the hurts and slights of their own personal struggles as the first generation of women out there competing in a male dominated world.

    When Clinton is attacked from any quarter, they are reminded of how the were unfairly marginalized time after time when they were disrespected and held back, while (an often less qualifed) male was heard or promoted in their place.

    These narratives are absolutely true and real. I've lived them by proxy for thirty years. The tradgedy here is that Clinton's actual behavior and policy positions has become unimportant to them as they've moved thier advocacy from brain to gut.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Kristin et al -

    Obviously, we have been talking past each other, with enough nuance in our thinking that we use some of the same words but with different meanings.

    When I speak of the stark economic reality that working class families need to have both adults working to make ends meet, you take it as a put down of stay at home moms. Yikes.

    What I was speaking to is an issue of world view. In my world, we get sick and tired of people telling us how to feel and how to act. Kristin, your post was full of that. You lead off the first paragraph being in a bad mood. In the second paragraph you are worried. In the third paragraph you are venting. But in the fourth paragraphy, your older sister is quoted telling us to "play nice together and get along" -- in other words stop the venting, bad moods and worrying, and be "nice". People who don't do this are "immature". You conclude by stating that there are lots of things done by candidates to make you angry, but you won't express anger for the over riding need for "unity".

    I get it. I just don't agree with it, and the basis of that disagreement that comes from within me is my working class background. I'm not putting down your version of working class (which still sounds pretty vanilla to me) but rather I'm telling you that I don't think I'm alone in my thinking. All of those places I have been in my life that smell like oil, grease, exhaust, dirt, etc. have people working in them that are giving up their bodies to hard physical labor, toxic working conditions, and lead rough lives so that the middle class can rest in relative ease; have people who don't put up with what they (and I) would call nonsense. We call things by their right names, and deal with them straight on.

    We don't trust people who don't fight for what they stand for. Those people will sneak up on you and hit you in the back of the head with a pipe later.

    To consider "Unity" with a snake is nonsense. You kill snakes so they don't bite you.

    From my working class background, I don't see forgiving a traitor, I see myself making sure they don't hurt me or mine ever again.

    Working class people like me are values driven. The appeal of the Republican Party to working class people has been that their values are clear. That they don't follow their values, betray their values, betray MY values, and work in ways opposite to what they say is the biggest motivation that I as a working class kinda guy have for voting for Democrats.

    So, Kristin, you suggest sweeping our values under the rug for the sake of "unity". Unified for what? What do you stand for? You would embrace a traitor because it reduces conflict with your candidate? -- Not me, I don't see compromising my values - I think in so doing I taint my candidate, and put out a false message that in compromise is strength. Compromise is not strength, it is weakness.

    It is my hope that when the Democrats finish this primary cycle at the Convention or before, we will in effect repudiate the type of campaigning we have seen by the Clinton's this cycle forever. I cannot see doing that by "compromise", or "unity".

    If we play nice with the devil, we lose our souls.

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    Ironic that you say that working class people should be able to express their feelings and then you deride me for expressing mine....kinda funny that way.

    I never said to sweep values under the rug. I've never done that in my life. You did not understand what I wrote. My core value right now is fighting John McCain with every ounce of my being, not using my energy to fight with other Democrats. John McCain, in my mind, weilds the biggest "pipe" of all...

    And yes, disagree with me -- go for it. We'll have to agree to disagree...

  • LT (unverified)
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    Steve, you and I may disagree on a number of things, but I think you are right about people "talking past each other".

    When I read this discussion and read Steve's "playing nice with the devil" remark, I think people aren't all on the same page.

    If the candidates aren’t going to unify, we need to. Unity needs to be a forged from the bottom-up. The grassroots activists, the bloggers, those who chat in offices and playgrounds and stores, can begin creating what we want the Democratic Party to be not just by advocating for the candidate of our choice, but by creating the tone we want to permeate this campaign.

    So, I’ll start. I’ll speak of the opposing candidate in civil ways, and I won’t write posts that create divisions.

    The idea of creating a tone, and a community deciding what behavior is acceptable or unacceptable ---- and then making that decision public by words and actions--- comes from a sermon I heard some years ago. The minister giving the sermon had gone to the same seminary as Andy Young who would become famous as someone who was with MLK at the end, then someone who entered government first at the national level then as Mayor of Atlanta. The example given in the sermon was of a time before the national civil rights movement when the KKK thought it owned the South. A small town got word the KKK were going to stage a march and rally in their town. The clergy of the town (regardless of race) were all called to come to the courthouse steps. Mayor, Chief of Police and major employer were there.

    When the Klan arrived, the Mayor said their behavior was unacceptable and that he was backed up by all the clergy. Chief of Police let it be known that all crimes (incl. arson, vandalism, assault) would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Major employer said "If I see the face of anyone working for me under one of those sheets, that man is no longer working for me--do I make my self clear?".

    It would be many years before the civil rights movement ended the power of the Klan to terrorize the South. But they never came near that small town again, because the community had made it clear that they would not tolerate the KKK.

    That is what I hear when someone talks about a community creating a tone.

    It can be as simple as "sorry, I didn't vote for your candidate because I couldn't support.....". That is a civil statement of fact, without any zingers. Such statements get the point across without being nasty. Without such information, how would future campaigns ever improve?

    To be absolutely clear what I am saying, I will use 2 examples. Such things have happened more than once, but IMHO these are good examples.

    In 1984, Mondale and Hart were more different than Obama and Clinton---very different world view, including "we've always done it that way" vs. doing things a new way, from a different point of view.

    Hart won the Oregon primary, Mondale won the nomination. After the convention, the state party chair wisely had a social event for all the delegates (regardless of candidate) and when Mondale/Ferraro appeared in Portland, we delegates were all given invitations and leadership of the Hart campaign was among those who met privately with Mondale and Ferraro before the rally. That's a smart way to do unity--make all sides feel included.

    In 1992, AuCoin beat Lonsdale in the US Senate primary recount by 330 votes. There was no outreach after that, even though there were ads and other nastiness in the primary which more closely resembled swifties or Mannix v. Erickson than anything which happened in the 2008 Democratic primaries. People were just told they should support the nominee. Period. End of discussion.

    Bob Packwood was a lot of things. Those included shifty, clever, sneaky, quick to take advantage of opportunity. In a debate when AuCoin went after Packwood in opening remarks for being negative, Packwood had a quick retort in his opening remarks. "After what you did to Lonsdale, YOU are calling ME negative?" I still recall seeing that exchange on TV after a very long day at work. Whatever else I thought of Packwood, I thought that was a justified remark.

    It was very close but Packwood was re-elected to that last (partial) Senate term. To my mind, it was a credit to the memory of Wayne Morse (who I do remember, and whose memorial service I attended) that Ron Wyden, not AuCoin, replaced the man who had defeated Morse in 1968 (in a recount, btw).

    It was not just my opinion---in 1993 at a political event, someone said to me "AuCoin has a lot of nerve showing up here given the kind of campaign he ran last year!" .

    I understand what Steve is saying,

    "It is my hope that when the Democrats finish this primary cycle at the Convention or before, we will in effect repudiate the type of campaigning we have seen by the Clinton's this cycle forever. I cannot see doing that by "compromise", or "unity".

    If we play nice with the devil, we lose our souls."

    In 1992 I worked in a local Dem campaign office and did work for every candidate but AuCoin (from Clinton on down) and did not vote for AuCoin. In 1996 I did not vote for Bruggere but for a 3rd party candidate. If anyone didn't like it, tough luck.

    Anyone who objected to my statement "Sorry, I cannot in good conscience vote for that candidate" got a lecture from me about freedom of conscience, and how I would never work another campaign in my life if it meant giving up freedom of conscience. Often startled the person who hadn't liked my independence of thought when I also said how long and how intensely I had been involved in politics, "I didn't donate thousands of hours of my time so that one day I could be told I had no right to think for myself!. If that attitude cost me friends, then they weren't true friends after all.

    But I don't think that has as much to do with "working class values" as it has to do with the right to maintain freedom of conscience.

  • KTDM (unverified)
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    Steve, "Unity for what"? Unity to defeat the Republicans. At this juncture there is no more important goal for working class, middle class, upper class, moms, dads, kids, greasemonkeys, farmers, lawyer, retail clerks etc etc--for the creatures with whom we share this planet--everyone. The Democratic party is divided, and it's not just about "playing nice" (a metaphor) but rather thinking and acting strategically and with humility and civility in order to build coalitions with people you may disagree with. Even if you happen to think Clinton is a snake (I don't, though I'm a fervent Obama supporter), her supporters have extremely good reasons for supporting her, in the main, and they are the ones we must unify with. Hence Kristin's post: "unity begins at the grassroots." So how about some brainstorming in here about how to best unify? The dating other supporters is the best one I've heard so far, but there must be more ideas out there.

  • Tom in L.A. (unverified)
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    Excuse me, Mr. Bickford, let's talk a little more about hip and clueless -- and why your flip, gleefully ignorant attitude is costing the Obama campaign potential voters every day. I was involved in the civil rights movement from a very young age. I read the Malcolm X autobiography when I was 13, a few years after his assassination -- an assassination that historians believe was facilitated by a young Nation of Islam member named Louis X aka Louis Farrakhan, currently a hero to one Reverend Wright. I wrote an impartial school paper in ninth grade on the Black Panther Party that got me into considerable trouble. I spent hundreds of hours telling white people about "The Death of Emmett Till," "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," and THE MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON. (Those are merely titles of works of art about American history, but if you're hip rather than clueless you'll know the stories behind them.) I wore a "Give a Damn" button long before I could "Give Jobs" or "Give Money," as Con Edison was urging us to do. (Yes, I'm originally from New York, so you shouldn't judge a person by his address, but certainly not by his current address.) And with money, words, and hours, I supported Shirley Chisholm for president, Percy Sutton for mayor of New York City, Doug Wilder for governor of Virginia, and Tom Bradley for mayor of Los Angeles and governor of California. In summary, I risked ridicule, ostracism, expulsion, physical violence, arrest, and death on behalf of oppressed people in America, starting with African-Americans and Jews and going on to women, gay people, Arabic people, and more. If you're so hip, tell me what you've done along these lines. Otherwise, don't come inside with that weak stuff, as we used to say on the basketball courts of New York City. There's nothing more clueless than responding to facts with mere insults. Unless it's fixating on the nonsense on the surface and being deaf to the deeper meanings underneath. My guess is you won't watch the video of Obama making a fool of himself on Hanford until the radiation has taken over Oregon, so you'll get the government you deserve. And I'll update things a bit culturally, if for you it's all about being hip: Perhaps you should be singing, "Cause I'm broken, and I don't understand," like on that great new Tift Merritt song.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)
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    Tom, I've obviously hit too close for your comfort, as you've gotten into spittle-flying mode. BTW even Dylan didn't buy into the cultural icon role for himself; he was just a clever performer.

    The condescending tone of your first post is no way to gain credence here. I totally disagree with its main contention, and can do so without justifying being called on the carpet for dismissing your political credentials, especially as you had done little to establish or evince such credentials.

    It seems to me that your dismissal of political parties per se as effectors of "real change" is cynical and inobservant. Political parties' mission is to install in government advocates for its constituency as defined by its organizational constitution and input from its members. Any mandate for changing government comes from its constituency, not its bureaucracy.

    The fortunes of parties rise or fall on their ability to carry out their mission, but the reality of their position as the effectors of political will is a fact of life in our democracy. The Constitution's First Amendment grants us "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." It explicitly gives us the mechanism to have people with common concerns to band together as a constituency to participate in government as a party.

    You may rightly criticise the framework that has given rise to the dominance of the two-party system as inadequate, but denying the reality of its expression of the infrastructure of our democracy will not change the facts. To really change the functioning of our democracy for the better will take much deeper thinking.

  • (Show?)

    "Political parties' mission is to install in government advocates for its constituency as defined by its organizational constitution and input from its members. Any mandate for changing government comes from its constituency, not its bureaucracy."

    I wish this were true, but it isn't, as the present actions of the Democratic congressional leadership on Iraq illustrate. Some members count for more than others, and some parts of the constituency (corporate interests, lobbyists) count for more than others.

    It isn't a democracy. It is a plebiscitary oligarchy with freedom of expression within a privately censored mass media framework tied to established corporate and political interests, that restricts full public debate and hampers the ability of popular elements of party constituencies to have an effective voice.

  • Tom in L.A. (unverified)
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    Well, Ed, at least now you're dealing with issues and arguments, instead of responding to someone's post with seven words of pure insult. If what you call spittle-flying mode was what was necessary to get you to respond on an adult level with actual substance, I'll plead guilty any time. Besides, those of us who've made sacrifices out in the real world for years for what we believe are going to be rightfully resentful of those who dismiss us. What in the world makes you think that people who risked their very lives to effect social change are going to tolerate being talked to like they're some kind of joke? Would you want to be talked to that way twenty years from now? It was people like me -- and there were many of us, I was in no way unique -- who made it possible for a Barack Obama to even dream of running for president. And by the way, your first post doesn't sound anything like anyone who wants to convince people of his arguments or use the party system to effect change. It sounds like some passive-aggressive loser who thinks insults are the tools by which you win elections. Good luck with that one! There's not really room to discuss at length all the points in play here. If you lived down here with all us other hip and clueless Angelenos, I'd invite you to sit down and discuss it in person. But just briefly (1) I apologized in advance for any harshness in my post to Kristin, as emails can be hard to assess for tone. She used the phrase "grow up," so I used that phrase to ramp up the point that faith in political parties or groups, under any political system (I'm not even singling out ours), is a big mistake if you're after real, lasting change. I'd refer you to Alice Miller's first few books, starting with THE DRAMA OF THE GIFTED CHILD, THOU SHALT NOT BE AWARE, and FOR YOUR OWN GOOD for more on that. (2) If you're going to respond to someone's post on an issue -- mine, on the usefulness of political parties -- with nothing but an insult, you're coming from about 3rd and 20 if you're going to blame someone for not posting their credentials to political activism a priori. I shouldn't have to post any credential to be heard, and it's a big mistake to insult people without considering what they may have done to justify their views. There is nothing more arrogant than dismissing people's experience, unless it's assuming that you know what that experience is and dismissing it, which is one of the things I don't like about Obama, i.e. I'm not at all up for being called "a typical white person." But I did post my credentials so as to open your eyes to the tremendous cost you're paying by showing contempt for people that you nevertheless want to vote in a certain way. In that sense, you sound much like most of the Obama supporters I've met, like the guy above who doesn't even see the point of wooing Clinton supporters. Or like the people who threw things at Clinton supporters in West Virginia. Again, "The world's a mystery if you don't read history": I know where this type of thing leads. Then under President Obama there are purges of those who aren't sufficiently liberal enough, or socialistic enough, or loyal enough. And very quickly it descends into Ralph Nader's idiotic "No friends on the left" strategy of 2000 -- and we all saw how well THAT worked out! (Then again, I note a high number of Nader voters among the most rabid Obama supporters)(3) More specifically on political parties, I'll just say you'd have a pretty hard time arguing that real change happens on a partisan or organizational level. My experience is that it happens on a much deeper level of awareness and then the more superficial changes that reflect the deeper ones fall into place, i.e. parties proposing new policies, going in new directions, etc. (Re the Obama candidacy, nothing illustrates that view of change more than the civil rights movement, which was hardly just a matter of political parties getting their acts together.) My lack of enthusiasm for any of the three remaining candidates can be illustrated in this respect as vaguely or as specifically as you like. For instance, they all claim to be upset with the price of oil. But none of them have much of a record of trying to reverse the folly of Reagan's 1986 decision to close the Carter-founded Synthetic Fuels Corporation. The larger awareness that was required to keep the SFC open and expand it -- awareness re the environment, the politics of the Middle East, the economic infrastructure of emerging countries -- simply hasn't been there. So that's why our current political parties and candidates aren't there on this issue now, either. (4) I won't speculate on your credentials as a music or social critic, but to call Bob Dylan "just a clever performer," whether you like all or any of his records or not, is really pretty...well, clueless, though again I don't mean that to sound so harsh. Perhaps you weren't there at the time and thus aren't all that able to assess (or inclined to assess) the enormous difference between the world pre-Dylan and post-Dylan, the same way one would have to assess, say, the world pre-Picasso and post-Picasso, pre-Charlie Parker and post-Charlie Parker, pre-Beatles and post-Beatles. The lines I quoted illustrate Dylan's striking ability to comment on the deeper issues in times of crisis, when people on all sides are losing their heads. ("Everyone is shouting which side are you on.") Which is why he never chose to or had to endorse a political candidate while Bruce Springsteen (who idolizes Dylan) has decided that for him it's about backing Democrats. This is part of a much larger discussion of what really makes an impact on society across the board, and in terms of how musicians from that era did it, analogously to the references to Alice Miller above, I'd refer you to not just Dylan but Hendrix, Zappa, and Ian ("Now there's revolution but they don't know what they're fighting") Anderson of Jethro Tull. (5) You still haven't said whether you've watched or are going to watch Obama's pathetic performance on that tape with respect to Hanford. So maybe you should stop talking and, as Timmy Schmidt sings on the new Eagles album, "DO something." P.S. Kudos to, as we say in L.A., Chris Lowe, whose brilliant take on the whole situation I largely agree with.

  • Portwes (unverified)
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    I've never left a comment at blueoregon before, and in spite of the well-informed and intimidatingly bright level of comments left here, I'm going ahead anyway.

    What I don't understand about this "bitterness" between the two camps is this: as a fairly neutral observer of the race (though I've drifting Obama's way recently), why are the Clinton supporters angry towards and about the Obama campaign? It seems to me he did not gain his support by saying negative things about his opponent, or by having the machine on his side, but rather by making intelligent, informed speeches without inflammatory rhetoric. The main times he responded negatively were when he was attacked by his opponents. He went from being a little-known freshman senator, to being the front-runner now, without offering anyone to the sharks. So my honest question is: why do the Clinton supporters feel so cheated? Maybe you can blame the MSM, but I don't understand why you would/could blame her opponent???

  • Tom in L.A. (unverified)
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    Hey Ed, I still haven't heard your thoughts on that tape of Obama on the Hanford crisis. Or are you acting like the priests in Galileo's day and refusing to look through the telescope? Real change takes a lot more courage than that, I'm afraid.

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