With the long nomination fight finally over and the long-knives dulled from months of overuse, attention now turns to uniting a Democratic Party that has been at war within itself through this long and fiercely contested campaign. Later today, Hillary Clinton is scheduled to formally concede the race to Barack Obama. In The Fray, an environment where polarization is a state of nature, partisans of Obama and Clinton have been bellowing at one another for months. Like the candidates they've supported, many Democratic Fraysters have already begun the awkward negotiations necessary to come back together on the same team. The liveliest and most fruitful discussion has been occurring in the XX Factor Fray, where readers have been sorting through the host of sore feelings and broken hopes that this historic campaign has left in its wake.
In one thread, Ann Newton asks "Why do Hillary supporters hate Obama?" To which female engineer offers this compelling response:
Obama is not the candidate they are looking for. In fact he is their recurring nightmare; Obama represents the guy who was promoted over them because he was smooth, cool, etc. not because he did the hard work, paid his dues, and yes, waited his turn.
A lot of women had to live through that and, rightly or wrongly, they actually empathize with Clinton and feel what she is going through. These women did the work for their daughters, they don't need Obama to do it for them.
John Heartfield, not exactly a Clinton supporter, offers another perspective on Obama-skepticism:
Perhaps what disturbs me about Mr. Obama's campaign is what disturbs women, working class white men, and others who have chosen to vote for a candidate they were told had no chance of winning the nomination rather than vote for Obama. It speaks volumes that Obama supporters still don't understand that their candidate lost the popular vote of their own party, and only won the nomination by the grace of the very super delegates they had previously said should not be the ones to determine the winner. The media was so focused on the idea that Hillary Clinton acted as if the nomination was hers by right, that they failed to see the arrogance and obnoxiousness of her opponent's campaign. That elitism (for lack of a better word) was not lost on the rest of us.
In the 40 years I have followed American politics, never have I seen a candidate (and her supporters) treated with such disrespect by the media. I found one spokesperson for the Obama campaign saying on the Larry King Show that, yes, the two candidates agree on most issues, but, for example, Mr. Obama's position on the Iraq War is deeper, more complex, more significant than Mrs. Clinton's. The spokesperson actually said, "You don't understand," and threw in a quote from Carl Jung.
Mr. Obama will probably win the election because John McCain is simply unacceptable. But this elitism, the idea that the people who support Obama are in a superior class and the rest of us ordinary mortals cannot possibly understand the complexities of his policies, will stifle and eventually bring down his presidency.
Despite their candidate's victory, many Obama supporters are still nursing their own share of grievances over the course of the long campaign. Davelias12 feels genuinely insulted by the way Clinton spoke of her opponent's supporters:
What steams a lot of Obama supporters is the fact that Hillary constantly derided them as being delusional, and Obama as being "elitist" and inexperienced. When in fact, she embodies those adjectives so much more than him, and her supporters demonstrate the same "cultish" enthusiasm for her that they levy against Obama supporters.
Somehow Clinton has convinced so many people that she has all of this viable toughness and experience, except her record points to the contrary. She's the underdog? She had a double-digit lead at the outset and the media was calling it her coronation. She fought the dirty campaign, but Obama's the sexist.
It's the double-speak and the "up-is-down" that frustrates so many.
Woolley, a relative late-comer to commitment, describes how praising the speech on race backed him into Obama's corner:
I was undecided until the race speech. When that speech was completed, I wrote a piece here on it that was checkmarked and got at least 15 thumbs up. I did not bash her at all, it was a piece on how remarkable that speech was and how I felt about Obama.
That single post was on the first page of "The Fray" for about 2 weeks and it drew attention. I got vicious attacks for even suggesting that the speech was a great one. It was a shock to me to find out just how much some folks did not want Obama to be given his due.
That opened up my eyes to the insane passion that was just under the surface of this race. Up until then, I just wanted a Democrat. By the time I had been insulted many times over, I was pissed. To be honest, I have been over the top and I know it. But none of this started with the Obama camp or supporters. Its been a defensive reaction all along and that is why now that the race is over, you are seeing Obama supporters lashing out.
It will end. Its time to call it over. Obama has been gracious and above it all. I think Hillary has come to grips with it too. Democrats need to do the same, soon. The alternative is McCain.
NJ Gal has been working valiantly to find the common ground in all this acrimony: