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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 19,068

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Fervent Clinton primary backers would do well to remember the PUMAs in 2008

It can be very difficult to redirect passions that are deeply felt and tied to strongly held ideals. I was a pro Clinton blogger during the 2008 primaries. While I was not impassioned in my support of Hillary then (she was my 5th choice that year, behind three potential candidates who did not run and Joe Biden - just edging out Obama) I knew a lot of folks who were. Some of them refused to accept Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee, both throughout the Democratic Convention and long after. When I threw my own support behind Obama as the inevitable nominee some of those Clinton supporters treated me virtually like a traitor, even though or perhaps because we had shared such strong common ground together in the recent past.

Some Democratic activists on forums like this felt those PUMAs betrayed the Democratic Party. A case can be made that some PUMAs betrayed the ideals of the Democratic Party by equating Obama with McCain. At the time though I know they felt they were upholding what they believed were the true ideals of the Democratic Party, by not rewarding Obama with their votes after his team ran a campaign that both deeply angered and offended them (whether they were right, wrong, or somewhere in between is not germane now to my point).

With time the ranks of PUMAs shrank though they did not completely disappear. Most of them ultimately voted for Obama with varying level of enthusiasm. And many of them are here with us now 8 years later, urging us all to vote Democratic in the Fall. I too believe that it is essential that Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump for the Presidency in November, although I strongly backed Bernie Sanders this time for the nomination. But I will say this; Hillary Clinton ad Barack Obama were always much closer together ideologically in 2008 than Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were throughout the 2016 primaries. And still there were lingering bitter divisions between some of the most ardent supporters of Barack and Hillary after that 2008 Democratic Convention.

Intensity does not drain off easily, nor can it be easily harnessed for alternate causes through some magic political water wheel quickly inserted into raging currents of political debate. In 2008 Clinton supporters at the very least never had reason to doubt that they were valued as an intrinsic integral part of the Democratic Party - Barack Obama was the insurgent then bringing new voices into the Party. Fortunately for Obama's "army" they prevailed that year and their place in the Democratic Party was assured with his crowning. How alienated might some of them have felt had their tsunami of enthusiasm smashed up against the walls of the prior Democratic "establishment", to be dissipated instead? And what if there were evidence that the deck was intentionally stacked against them from day one? How much anger might there have been?

Neither the Democratic Party nor our nation as a whole can afford to wage the fight for essential social change without doing all that we can to listen to, honor and engage all of the voices calling for, and showing a willingness to fight for, such changes. It is not always easy to get on the same page, but that is the challenge before us now. It is far too early, and far too dangerous, to irreparably turn our backs on potential allies because of divisions that still exist today.

My sincere thank you to Hillary supporters who stayed calm while awaiting Bernie endorsing.

I noticed and appreciated your attitude in real time as the Democratic Presidential primary end game played out here at DU and in the nation at large. There were several of you who were quite clear about allowing Bernie to reach this point at the pace that made sense to him (and IMO for the Democratic Party also). Some of you openly stated opinions to the effect that as long as Sanders no longer played offense against Hillary that it was Bernie's choice to make when (and even if) he endorsed Hillary. And you gave him that space without criticism.Thank you all for that.

I long said that the deadline for achieving relative party unity was at the Democratic Convention itself. We got there before then. I believe that the discussions (and yes even negotiations) that took place between the two campaigns after the DC primary leading up to this point were constructive; good for the nation and good for the Democratic Party. While some DU supporters of Clinton were having tantrums over Bernie "refusing to endorse Hillary" or his supposedly "sabotaging party unity", others were willing to let it all play out without leveling premature accusations.

This is my hat tip to all the Hillary supporters here who were willing to wait patiently for this moment to come to natural fruition. You too played an important role in furthering the spirit of unity.
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