Hillary Clinton was never more than my fourth choice for president, and I've never been more than a tepid supporter. I'm going to vote for her in the Oregon primary, so, in this historic year, I will have ended up having cast my two presidential votes for a woman and an African American. It would be nice if the politics of identity was irrelevant, but this year has only proved the degree to which it still is. So, I will feel good about voting for a woman and for an African American, neither of whom I consider to be a true liberal, and neither of whom I ever expected to seriously advance liberal causes. But either one of them will end the Bush era, while John McCain would only extend it, and very possibly exacerbate its most insidious and dangerous excesses.
Instead of writing directly about the campaign, or about the candidates, I want to write directly to their most passionate supporters. But too many of Obama's most passionate supporters are incapable of either reason or comity, so I won't bother with them. Instead, I will address Clinton's most passionate supporters. Not those, like myself, who reluctantly ended up in her camp, but the true believers. Those who have suffered most from online behavior by many very prominent Obama supporters that disgusted not only tepid Clinton supporters such as myself, but even the more sane and honest Obama supporters. Many of you handled this primary season with extraordinary grace. Some of you did not. It cannot have been an easy process to witness and experience.
Even though I couldn't passionately support either candidate, and knew I'd be more disappointed with our nominee than I had been since Bill Clinton clinched in 1992, I find much that is admirable about both. And it is simply wrong to ignore the historic nature of these campaigns. Whatever happens, future candidates and future presidents will look back on 2008 with an appreciation and gratitude that we, now, are incapable of appreciating. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are working a broken system, both often stooping to its level, but I have no doubt that both seriously want to improve it and, more than anything, seriously want to make this nation and this world better places for all. That they are both compromised is a given. Such is the nature of the system. Neither would be capable of radically transforming it, but both recognize that it needs transforming.
The Clinton candidacy was never going to be easy. That she hired so many incompetents to run it only made things worse. I have no doubt that the people she would have had running the government would have been vastly superior to her campaign staff, but her campaign staff has cost her the chance to prove it. Hillary Clinton's most passionate supporters need to come to terms with the stark fact that she is not going to be president. Not next year, and not in five years. On many levels, it's not fair, but neither a woman nor a Clinton has ever known political fairness. The corporate media and the Beltway mob have been waiting a full sixteen years to defeat a Clinton, and they took to the task like swine to offal.
The Obama campaign fought hard, and at times quite viciously, but that's the game of politics, and Clinton both knows it and plays it, herself. The most effective weapon in the Obama campaign's arsenal was precisely the framing that the Clintons fought dirty, while they fought clean. It was brilliant, because it was a framing that the media and the mob were only too slaveringly thrilled to enable. But it would be wrong to begrudge the Obama campaign their success. They played by the rules, and they played very well. Politics is a dirty business, and it's never been fair, and anyone who doesn't recognize that probably shouldn't take it up as either vocation or hobby. Losing hurts. Blood is spilled. Wounds feel like they will never heal, and when they do, the scars often are not pretty. But the strong and the smart and the sane survive.
Many of you passionate Clinton supporters have been in the game for a very long time. You knew what could happen. That the impossible seemed probable makes defeat that much harder to bear, but Hillary Clinton is not going to be president. She was lied about, smeared, vilified and demonized. And that was just by the corporate media. There was never going to be objective reporting. The behavior of many Democrats, particularly in the shrillosphere, was inexcusably petty, dishonest, and manipulative. People exposed themselves in ways that will never be forgotten. But none of that changes either the result or the necessity of salving the wounds, stepping back, and maintaining both composure and perspective.
It isn't necessary that those who support Clinton now enthusiastically come to support Obama, but it is necessary that they come to support him. Even at the bare minimum level. And that bare minimum level is to vote for him, in November. You don't have to like doing so, but you do have to do so. The alternative is unthinkable. Many of you like to think of yourselves as wiser and more politically astute than are many Obama supporters, and it is time to make that case for yourselves. Be as graceful in defeat as the worst of them have been graceless in victory. Obama himself, however imperfect, is a far better person than those who do such a terrific job of turning people away from him. Keep that in mind. Keep in mind the irrevocable damage that would be done by four more years of neocon/theocon/kleptocrat autocracy. And keep in mind that the often odious behavior you have seen from online Obama supporters is not the fault of the candidate himself.