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.
It’s been two weeks since the election and I still haven’t written about the outcome. Those of you who have been reading this blog for the last six months know that I was originally a Hillary supporter. When Obama won the candidacy, I was very disappointed, almost to the point where I considered voting for McCain. That, however, was just a fleeting moment of insanity and once McCain picked Palin to be his running mate, I didn’t have another moment like it. I was never officially a PUMA (see my post, “Rethinking the PUMA Position“), but I was certainly not sold on Obama. I came into his camp reluctantly.
Once I opened my mind to Obama, though, I found myself getting more comfortable with the idea of him as President. But I didn’t get over the rejection of Clinton for a long time. It wasn’t until I’d seen how Obama conducted himself in debates and on the campaign trail that I began to develop a measure of respect for him. By the time I voted, I was firmly in his camp, but that had more to do with my fear of another Republican presidency than because I was so certain that Obama was “the one.”
All that changed on the night of the election. I think I’d become so pessimistic about Democrats being able to win the Presidency that I didn’t dare hope that it would really happen. As the night progressed, though, I became more and more hopeful. When it was finally announced that Obama had won, it hit me: this was a historic moment. I was moved by the thought that this country with all its racism was able to look past that and elect a black man to be its next President.
I was impressed by McCain’s concession speech and actually felt sorry for him (a little bit), but I was far more relieved than anything. I felt like a disaster had just been averted. I’m not naive, I know that there are plenty of people who are upset, even angry, that Obama won. In fact, my greatest fear is that he will be assassinated by some crazy racist. I pray daily for his safety.
And now Hillary is possibly being reborn as Secretary of State. I can live with that.
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.
I just read Rebecca Traister’s article on Salon.com about Hillary supporters. The title is “Why Clinton Voters Say They Won’t Support Obama,” and the subtitle is “The Attack of the PUMAs, Or A Dozen Reasons Why Clinton Voters Are Too Angry To Come Home.” I thought she hit the nail right on the head. And then I read some of the comments.
I was appalled at the ones which railed against white middle class Second Wave feminists as if we were a bunch of racists, just because we wanted Hillary to get the nomination. I wasn’t for Clinton because she was white and I wasn’t for her just because she was a woman. But her gender influenced me, sure. Are you going to tell me that Obama’s race doesn’t influence some voters (i.e., black ones) to vote for him? Why else would it be said that he has a loyal voting bloc among African-Americans? Oh, but it’s okay to want to be loyal to your race. What isn’t okay is being loyal to your gender!
I wouldn’t have voted for just any woman for President, although I admit that I would give a female candidate a little more leeway than I would a man, because I think it’s about time we had a woman president. So sue me.
So will I switch my vote to Obama? Yes, because as Traister points out in her article, there is nowhere else to go. There’s no way in hell I would vote for McCain. But that doesn’t mean that I’m happy about Obama, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s black or male. I feel that we (white middle class Second Wave fems) are having to settle for second best. I’m not a PUMA (“Party Unity My Ass”), because I will remain true to my party. But I’m still angry. I know I have to get over it in order to give Obama all the support he will need to beat McCain. But for now let me stew in my juices.