As private citizens, we all have the right to vote for whomever we choose. If we are Democratic Party officials, we have the obligation not to openly oppose our Party. The singular purpose of the Democratic National Convention is to nominate our national ticket. The single obligation of those elected by their peers to this convention is to support the nominee, regardless of whether that nominee was his or her first choice.
When a delegate to our national convention indicates that they are not yet sold on the idea of voting Democratic in November, as Portland’s Sue Castner has done, they breach their obligation to those who elected them. I understand that Sue, a Clinton delegate, has strong feelings about Hillary. But to say, as she did in this morning’s Oregonian, that Sen. Obama has something tog prove to her and “if I had to base my vote on how his supporters have been treating us, I’d be voting for McCain,” goes too far. Granted, Castner hedges. She doesn’t say she will vote for McCain. But for a delegate even to hint that they may cross to McCain because their first choice didn’t win is destructive.
This is not 1860, 1924 or 1968, when slavery, alcohol, or war split our party. The differences between Clinton and Obama on substance can be measured with a micro caliper on most issues. There should be no principled basis for leaving Denver with anything but full commitment to a ticket wedded to progressive Democratic ideals and easily distinguishable from the GOP.
So, Sue, I respect your right to support whoever you want. But when you took that seat on the floor in Denver that so many others would have cherished, you should have recognized that the responsibility of a delegate is “first do no harm.” Vote for Hillary on the floor. Do whatever you want in November. But if you can’t come out of Denver Thursday in support of Obama, at least keep it to yourself.