I’m very glad that Hillary endorsed Obama today, and after watching about half of the speech (honestly, I got board; I’m too accustom to Obama’s speeches), I felt a little guilty for railing against Hillary and her supporters yesterday. I don’t regret a word of it, but I do want to emphasize that I’m satisfied with Hillary’s endorsement speech.
All the same, there’s still the nagging question of whether all her supporters who said they would never vote for Obama really mean it. I suspect a lot of them do, and I’m cool with that. As I said before, I believe quite strongly than no one should ever vote for a person he or she isn’t confident supports issues important to that voter. What rubs me the wrong way, however, is the idea that they should go the other way and vote for McCain. Again, it’s they’re vote, and they can do whatever they want with it, but I don’t see how McCain is better than Obama, if you started off supporting Hillary.
After viewing some of the comments on one of the first “Hillary voters for McCain” websites, I’ve come to a rather sad conclusion: there’s isn’t just one reason for this. We can’t pigeonhole these people into one little group. Each one has his or her reason, and they don’t always agree with one another. However, there are a few arguments that I’d like to address.
1) The DNC, the Superdelegates, and/or the Rules Committee stole the election from Hillary
This is the most prominent argument, and I feel it’s a little naïve, to be honest. The election wasn’t Hillary’s to start with, and thus it couldn’t be stolen from her. She needed to earn it by winning the nomination. She agreed to the terms of that nominating process, and she lost, based on the terms she agreed to.
I want to emphasize at this point that the Democratic Party’s nominating process is not a governmental election. It has absolutely no standing in the US constitution, and is not rigidly defined by law. The rules of that nomination are set down by the states/territories involved, and the DNC. If you don’t like those rules, that’s fine, but to suggest that the nomination was “rigged” when the party is under no obligation to hold primaries or caucuses in the first place, is a little naïve.
I could get into the specifics about Michigan and Florida, but I fear that issue has been done to death. All the same, I’ll get into it anyway… They broke the rules, and got punished for it, just like any respectable club would punish one of its rule breaking members. Also, many voters in Michigan were told to vote “Uncommitted” if they supported Edwards or Obama, and thus “Uncommitted” got 40% of the vote, while Hillary only won with 55% (a smaller margin than in some states where Obama was actually on the ballot). There are counties in Michigan where “Uncommitted” actually won. But, more importantly, the Rules Committee only did what the states asked them to do. The solution the committee came to was derived from party leaders in Michigan and Florida.
Also, the superdelegates that went for Obama at the end were only backing the candidate who had won the majority of the pledged delegates. If they had done otherwise, then I would agree that they took the nomination away from the person who clearly should have won it. I’m not a fan of the “superdelegate” concept to begin with, so I support Nancy Pelosi’s position that they should only endorse the person who won the majority of the pledged delegates, because if the superdelegates didn’t exist, the person with the majority would be the winner anyway.
The “popular vote” argument that Hillary was pushing was, frankly, unsupportable. The Democratic Party doesn’t nominate its candidates by popular vote, which is why at least 4 states didn’t even bother to count a popular vote. They held caucuses, then declared a winner, without bothering with a formal tally (again, I emphasize that the Democratic nomination is not an election). Hillary’s “popular vote” argument flew in the face of the DNC nominating rules from the start, and hinged solely on how you chose to cherry pick the states.
I can understand how one would come to the conclusion that the Democratic nominating process wasn’t handled very well this time around, but I have no doubt that the winner of the nomination won it fairly.
2) Barak Obama can not keep us as safe from terrorism as either Hillary or McCain would
Frankly, I have trouble seeing how one can come to this conclusion, given the differences between McCain and Hillary on military policy. I can understand if one supported McCain’s ideas from the start, but Hillary’s military policy is much closer to Obama’s than McCain’s. McCain still thinks the war in Iraq is making us safer. How can one really think someone so deluded would make the rest of us safer than Obama would? Maybe because they look more at McCain’s military service, and trust him for that reason…even if their first choice (Hillary) never served in the military. Given that McCain hasn’t been in the military for 27 years (half his adult life), I’m not nearly as inclined to trust his current opinions about the military and modern international threats (but if you want a history lesson, he’s your man).
All the same, I would recommend that the people basing their support of McCain on this argument actually look deeper into Obama’s policies than the talking points pushed out by Obama’s opponents. You’ll find he’s a lot more rationally aggressive than McCain or Hillary have painted him.
3) If we elect McCain, Hillary will be able to win in 2012
This might actually be completely true. Except that I don’t buy the premise that Hillary would have won the election this time around, and I find it even less likely when she’s running against an incumbent McCain. The Republican base isn’t extremely fond of McCain as it is, and we don’t want them flocking to the polls just to vote against the Democrat. And, no matter how much Democrats might disagree, the Clintons have always been a good thing for the Republicans to unify against.
But, more importantly, I find this argument morally distasteful. I don’t like the idea of people voting for a candidate they don’t genuinely support. It seems to me that this option is akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face…and hoping that someone will give you a free nose job sometime in the future to fix it.
I understand if Hillary supporters don’t want to follow Hillary’s example, and support Obama. However, I don’t see how McCain is the second best choice.