I did not want to write this Part 2 to my original post, The Selfish Gene is Female. I was hoping that I was wrong about the motives of the Clinton supporters, and that once it was clear that Obama had won, they would put aside their disappointment and enthusiastically support his campaign. I thought that after a period of time, their anger and disappointment at losing would subside. And to a great degree it has. But the same women who claimed they had waited all their lives for a woman president are those who continue to threaten to vote for McCain or stay home. They will not shut up.
In the past few days, Clinton supporters of various stripes have refused to donate to the Obama campaign (while they whine about Obama supporters not wanting to help retire the Clinton debt) http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1821662,00.html ; they have told pollsters they will either vote for McCain or stay homehttp://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/07/04/clinton-supporters-still-not-embracing-obama-poll-says/ ; they have threatened to disrupt the convention in August http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/12/sticking-a-wrench-in-the_n_112303.html and have sullenly and yes, selfishly, refused to follow Hillary Clinton's own exhortation - "get over it and move on." The question is why.
An article by Rebecca Traister in Salon.com http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2008/06/23/pumas/ lists 12 reasons why Clinton voters say they won't support Obama. Only one of the reasons is Obama himself and NONE of the reasons is Hillary herself. Her supporters have blamed almost everyone imaginable for her loss except her mismanagement of her own campaign Yes, of course there was sexism. There always has been and probably always will be. Apparently that is not Obama's fault according to this article, although there are things he could have done to at least acknowledge it more openly. But, is that a reason for withholding support of Obama now?
I believe one reason for the continued resistance by this hopefully shrinking group of Hillary supporters may be that Hillary herself has not repudiated their actions strongly enough. She has urged them to "reconsider" but could she be more forceful in her rejection of these efforts? I believe she could. She could give a press conference and reject their efforts unequivocally and ask them to stop. After all, staying home and not voting or voting for McCain is antithetical to Hillary Clinton's values and the work she has done all her life for women. Right?
Another reason for this continued backlash against Obama among Hillary supporters may simply be naivete or lack of experience with the political world. Like many who have not had to tackle tough issues in the public square, some of these women are focusing only on their own disappointment, and do not see the bigger picture of what their ambivalence or downright anger is doing to them, their families, their friends, and the political process itself. WhenJohn Kerry was running and some of my Democratic friends were complaining about how they just couldn't get enthusiastic about him, I was thinking about the Supreme Court. Somehow the Supreme Court argument never became real for some Democrats who may not have voted for Bush but did not work very hard for Kerry. And now we have Roberts and Alito.
Carrying on the anger at this point seems to be a symptom of a somewhat baffling self-centeredness on the part of spokespeople for the anti-Obama movement ( if you can call it that). What is causing this "it's all about me" attitude at this point? Do the Susie Buell Tompkins of this world really believe that continuing to cry about Hillary's loss and the sexism in the press will really make sexism less powerful? Make it go away? And even if it were purely sexism that contributed to her loss, how does the application of anger to Obama solve that problem? The irony of it all is that Obama may be the one politician of the group this year who truly understands women's issues, having been raised by a single mom and living with a strong partner and two daughters.
If you can help us all understand the psychology of this backlash, dear reader, please comment. But be constructive. Try to help us all understand this better. Demonizing the Hillary supporters is not helpful. Trying to understand what is motivating them might be.