Party Unity My Ass

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Some of you may remember the designation PUMA,  which was used to describe Clinton supporters who had an “all-or-nothing” attitude about the 2008 Presidential campaign. In other words, if Clinton didn’t receive the Democratic nomination, they were going to leave the party. (Hence, “Party Unity My Ass.”)

I wasn’t a PUMA then and I’m not one now. I wanted Clinton in 2008, but it was more important to me to avoid a Republican presidency than it was to achieve a female one. So I voted for Obama. I’m not going to go into how that worked out for me in this post, except to say that Obama has been like the boy who stuck his finger in the hole in the dike. If it hadn’t for him, we would all be awash, if not drowning, in a flood of Republican rhetoric and misdeeds. It’s been bad enough as it is.

I voted for Clinton in my state’s primary but I’m not going to pout and sit out the election if she doesn’t get the nomination. For one thing, I’m not as heavily invested in Clinton this time around and I do think that Sanders is a decent alternative. So I have no problem switching my allegiance to Sanders if he becomes the nominee. My main concern is that we nominate the person who can beat the Republican candidate.

The way things are going for the Republican Party right now, it’s beginning to look like the Democrats are the only ones who can give this country a sane and respectable President. There is no consensus among Republicans; they are as polarized as a party as the U.S. is as a nation. As popular as Donald Trump has been in the polls and some of the primaries, he still has an overall disapproval rating of 60%. Even over half of Republican women don’t like him.

Democrats are lucky compared to Republicans: we have two decent choices. I just hope their respective supporters realize how much is at stake if we get another Republican presidency. (Especially if the President is Cruz or Trump.) Not voting at all is a cop-out. Voting for a Republican is a betrayal.

No matter who gets the Democratic nomination, we need to stay united. Republicans would love nothing more than to see droves of Democrats forsake their party. There is no such thing as a perfect political party—or candidate. But if you believe that Democrats get it right more often than they get it wrong, then you need to swallow your disappointment if “your” candidate doesn’t get the nomination and vote for the one who does.

Rethinking the PUMA Position

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I’ve been trying on the idea of voting for Obama and I just can’t get into it. It’s not because he’s not a woman; I just don’t have confidence in him. OK, I’ll say it: I just don’t trust him.

Hillary supporters who have gone on record as saying that they will not vote for Obama now that Hillary is out of the running have been accused of hurting the Democratic Party. Their reply is, “Party Unity My Ass!” (hence the name PUMA). I question those who are going to switch parties and vote for McCain, just to keep Obama out of office. Voting against someone seems like such a negative way to use the right to vote.

And besides, I’m leery of John McCain, too, although I trust him more than I do Obama. I can’t quite swallow voting Republican. I don’t know anything about the Independent Party. And I’m morally and ethically opposed to not voting at all. One’s vote ought to make a statement.

Instead of excoriating PUMAs, critics ought to consider the dilemma in which they find themselves. Do they go with the devil they know, the lesser of two (or more) evils, the status quo or the party line? I think they’re frustrated because voting should be about making your voice heard, and when there are no good choices, what means of self-expression do they have?

Discussions about who is betraying the Party are counter-productive. Instead we ought to be asking ourselves if the Party has been loyal to us. Is it worthy of our allegiance or just a concept that we’d like to believe in? I know that I’ve often been uncomfortable with things the Democratic Party has done or not done, said or not said. But because I agree with most of its principles and far fewer of the Republican Party’s, I’ve felt more comfortable calling myself a Democrat. But aren’t I first and foremost an individual? Maybe I ought to be asking what my values are, not my party’s, and then acting accordingly.

Where My Loyalties Lie

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My husband asked me early on in the primaries if I would vote for Obama if Clinton wasn’t chosen to be the Democratic candidate. I admit I hesitated–but then I came to my senses. We haven’t heard all there is to hear from McCain about his platform, but from what we have heard, I think he would deliver more of the same–a continuation of the last eight years. Our country just can’t afford that. It’s hard to tell, though. McCain used to impress me, years ago. Maybe not to the point where I would have switched parties to vote for him, but he seemed to be more “democratic” than any other Republicans. Maybe he’s just saying what he has to say to appease the Republicans until he gets their nomination. He just may surprise even them when he starts campaigning in earnest for the presidency.

I’m concerned by a recent poll that showed that more than a third of Democrats said that they might not support their party’s nominee in the fall if he or she is not their first choice. In my view, Obama is still better than McCain, mainly because I don’t agree with Republican policy. I’m not going to turn spiteful and vote for McCain just because I didn’t get the Democratic nominee I wanted. I still think it’s more important to remain loyal to your party–as long as the reasons you vote Democrat in the first place are still intact. If you’ve truly gone over to the Republican side in terms of your beliefs then by all means vote Republican. But if you’re still a Democrat in your heart, then don’t switch parties out of spite.

I do think that Obama is the young people’s candidate. I’m not young anymore, so it’s harder for me to get caught up in the enthusiasm that I felt in the 60’s, the feeling that the young were going to change the world, that we had the answers, that the old were stuck in their misbegotten ways. Did we accomplish that in the 60’s? Well, we did change a lot of things, but that has proven to be more a function of who we were–and have continued to be–than that we had superior wisdom. The Baby Boomers were, and have remained, a force to be reckoned with. But we’ve all gone our separate ways, even though there are a lot of concerns that unite us. Some of us have joined the Establishment big-time, some of us dropped out and stayed dropped out, the majority of us have just been trying to get by any way we can. Yet we all have an increasing investment in things like retirement, Social Security, elder care, and the legacies we leave our children and grandchildren (and in some cases, great grandchildren), whether economic, ecological, spiritual or political.

So what am I first? It hit me as I wrote the word “spiritual” that my first loyalty lies with God. That’s why it’s hard for me to be an ardent anything. I do have definite opinions, but I find it difficult to condemn anyone because they don’t see things exactly the way I do. For one thing, I may be able to learn something from them. I have to remind myself that they might be able to learn something from me, and therefore I shouldn’t be reluctant to express my opinions–in love. That’s not always easy to do when you think your neighbor is an idiot because he votes Republican.

I would have to say that my second loyalty lies with being a woman, but I need to qualify that: I’m a woman who is also a Baby Boomer. That gives me a different perspective sometimes than younger women have. So I also have a loyalty to my age group, to people who are in the same boat I’m in. And when I say I have a loyalty to my identity as a woman, I also mean as a wife, companion, mother and citizen. My womanhood both proscribes and informs the differing roles in my life.

So, as far as my being a Democrat, I think that also grows out of my womanhood. I just don’t think that the Republicans are as woman-friendly as the Democrats. At least not friendly to all kinds of women in all kinds of situations. They are stuck in the past, longing for a world that will never exist again. Democrats aren’t all feminists, but at least they’re trying to see the world that could and probably will be.

It could be that some women aren’t feminists because their womanhood isn’t all that important to them. It’s not something they think about and respect and cherish, it’s just something that is, that they do. They may even have contempt for women, or envy men. I think a feminist is a woman who likes who she is, respects herself and all women and who wants to make things better for other women. That seems like as good a definition as any.

So my loyalties lie first with God, and then with who He created me to be. Some feminists may think that the point of feminism is to erase the differences between men and women, but I feel that I was made a woman for a reason. I am not a man wanna-be. I want to educate people about why being a woman is important, both for women themselves and for the world around them.