For one, I can say this about Hillary Clinton. In the last couple months I think she allowed her authentic voice to come out. After falling behind and with the economy reeling, she got to talk about the things I think she really cares about and make her stances clear, without worrying about how they would play in the general. When Tina Fey intimated people didn’t like her because she was a bitch, I didn’t agree with that. I think people’s problem with Hillary was they didn’t trust who she was – an authenticity gap. She has since then become more feisty and indomitable, playing to her strengths – and she has done far better, even if it has come too late. Personally, I always liked the fiery Hillary of yesteryear, who wouldn’t bake cookies, a lot more then the inevitable Hillary of the early part of this campaign, whose every consultant-approved statement seemed calibrated, cautious and poll-tested.
In some ways, losing her frontrunner status liberated her to be the candidate she was most comfortable being – a more feisty liberal – and not a wishy-washy DLC centrist. And while, as an Obama supporter, I didn’t always find her resilience welcome, I do think her strengths as a leader have been enhanced by her recent success. Its not often a loser can come out of a race with their reputation intact, even burnished. I think she will.
She certainly has put her husband in the shadows and from now on, it will be Hillary that is the Clinton people most listen to and seek out for support. For my part, I’d like to see her serve a long and distinguished career in the Senate, leading on health care and the other great challenges of our times. There is much still for her to contribute to our country, regardless of whether she ever reaches the White House again.
And the critiques of Obama by Hillary supporters are often spot on – even if I have spent a lot of time trying to debunk them (and likely still will going forward). Obama has certainly not been able to crack the code to success with some important demographic groups and in some important places for the general as Hillary supporters have regularly pointed out of late. But, I would ask Hillary folks to try and think about how Obama can do that and make some suggestions. There is too much at stake in this election for any of us to sit back and wait to say I told you so. You don’t have to love Obama, but I know we all would prefer him to McCain and thus we need to think positive and think solutions at this point.
I recall comments on BMG, post the West Virginia blowout, about how Obama is not speaking to the white working class and that he may be “throwing the general.” I disagreed with them, but I would ask those who feel that he hasn’t addressed this group to suggest ways he can do a better job of it, because there is no doubt he has to sway some of them to stay with the party come November. I don’t think we should just accept that he can’t win their votes when these are the folks most getting the shaft from the GOP’s policies. I’d also be interested in thoughts about why he hasn’t connected with these groups, for in diagnosing the problem therein may lie the solution.
So, Hillary supporters, even if you are unwilling to drink the kool-aid, your insights and ideas for how we can win in November, even with a candidate you didn’t back, would be interesting to hear. Its time to start coming together and we can’t win without you onboard – even if not entirely on the wagon.