Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why Do YOU Support Hillary Clinton?

It is very hard to ignore the primary fight from across the pond. Election results are front page news here in the UK. The bookstores are just as filled with U.S. Campaign biographies as the shops back home. People find that I am an American and are desperately anxious to learn if I know anything they don't, and eager to offer their opinion- which is always anti-Bush, and often pro-Obama. It is a reminder that whoever becomes President of the Untied States casts a giant shadow on rest of the world.

I woke up today, and learned that the primary fight goes on still. To me, this is a disappointment. I pretty much made up my mind about a year ago that Barack Obama was my candidate. A friend of mine emailed me last night, and said: I'm ready for the primary to be over so that we can focus on the issue at hand. (IE- throwing the bums OUT!) I couldn't agree more. I think that John McCain is going to be hard to beat and it's time to start.

But what really surprised me, upon reflection- was the fact that Hillary Clinton pulled off two wins yesterday.

To me, Obama seems like a clear choice. To most of the people I know, or read, back in Vermont- Barack Obama seems like a clear choice, too (or, if not, then he is TOO FAR TO THE RIGHT- there is that strain of Vermonter, too). In fact, to almost everybody I interact with on any given day, Barack Obama is the clear choice and front runner.

Nobody, but NOBODY thinks nominating Hillary Clinton would be a good idea.

And yet, obviously, a lot of people I've never heard from completly disagree with me. They got up yesterday, dragged themselves to the polls and Voted for Clinton.

And that Scares me.

I'm not scared because they voted for Clinton- I think she'd make a fine president. I just think Barack Obama would make an even better one.

No, it scares me because I realized that, once again, I don't know ANYTHING about what a LOT of my fellow Americans are thinking.

I don't need to agree with them, or they with me- but I should, at least, know where they are coming from...understand why they make the decisions they do.

Because if you don't even understand your opponent's position and why they take it, you have no chance to reason them out of it (or perhaps, to be reasoned out of your own, should it prove the weaker).

For another thing, if you don't understand why your opponents make the choices they do, it is very hard to empathize with them, and to build consensus.

If you don't know what drives them, you don't know how strong they are.

And that scares me...because this has happened to me before.

The first time I realized that there were oceans of people in America that I did not even remotely understand was on election night, 2000. It had never occurred to me to worry that Bush would even come close to the Presidency! I mean, the man was a joke, right, everybody knew it.

Well, the joke was on me. I'd just as soon it didn't happen again. And this time, the lack of mutual understanding isn't just between Liberals and the Right-Wing- it is within the same political party. We need to learn to talk to each other so that we can talk the rest of the country out of voting for John McCain.

So...please, as a favor, would anybody out there like to explain to me why you are supporting Hillary?

Post Script

I found some interesting articles on this subject.

The first is from a young reporter in Seattle who writes about what the Clinton Candidacy may, or may not mean to her. It's here.

The is another article from CBS news about Ohio voters. Working Class and feeling pressed, for them, it is, once again "The Economy Stupid".

The first comment I got on this post is also illuminating about why someone in "Obama's" demographic might choose to support Hillary as well.


Anonymous said...

Alex, First my reasons against Obama:
A lot of us find the whole message of "Change" very cliched. It's been pushed to us again and again in every election. For a lot of us, there's nothing novel in Obama's message.
Second, we don't really know who he is. It's not about experience. It's about having no idea about Obama. Unfortunately for him, the media has not vetted him enough. So it scares us to put another unknown into the top position.
Now my reasons for Clinton:
1. She's well known. We all know her style of politics. And given her work so far (and I agree it's not a whole lot), she seems like a person who delivers.
2. She will always have Bill Clinton as an asset. Yes, the media might have portrayed him as a liability in the elections. But he's an asset. They both have great relationships with world leaders and that can only help US regain acceptance globally.
3. She just sounds smarter than Obama when it comes to policy. She is able to articulate the details much better than he. Her answers seem more nuanced. I often think that the kind of answers that Obama gives are the kind of answers that even I can give but her answers always have that something extra.

Btw, I am a male, hold a graduate degree, probably fall in the upper middle class category and am decidely liberal. So I am not what you probably think of a typical CLinton supporter.

Alex said...

Thanks! That's a pretty good answer and not a bad start to helping me understand.

I also found a great article from by young reporter in Seattle...she gave a pretty good picture of her dilemma too...it's at http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/thebigblog/archives/133430.asp

You are correct that you don't fit the common "demographic" (especially as highly educated and upper middle class) as a Clinton Supporter....there was a decent article on the CBS News website about her supporters in Ohio...
for them, once again, "It's the Economy Stupid"...


Parasite Queen said...

Hi Alex,

I think that something that has not been touched on is that Hillary Clinton once said that she would rather McCain took the White House than Obama. I believe that a point that people are missing is that this woman is clearly out for herself. This is a woman that has just stated that she would rather secure her own presence in the White House than another member of her own party.

I believe that she will continue to fight on to become the candidate for one primary reason. That is that I believe that she wants to secure her own place in history as a unique kind of prisoner. In other words she would want to be the president that is a woman than have Obama take the limelight of being the first black man to ever be in the running.

I am from the UK and here we used to talk about how Tony Blair was obsessed with his place in history, I believe that this now applies to Hillary Clinton and so the fight wil continue.

As per the previous post and the comments about change, I was a staunch supporter of Bill Clinton. I believe that one of hte problems with Hillary Clinton as my late father put it was that compared to Bill she goes on what she is thinking and you can never really tell what that is. With regard to Bill he always went on gut instinct and usually it turned out ok (I guess).

Secondly I do have a correction to make about Clinton's so called experience. What experience is she referring to? If she is talking about having experience as a senator then Obama too can match her in that. If she is meaning to imply that being the wife of the former president amounts to any sort of experience then that is as laughable as saying that George Bush's dog could also claim to have substantial experience to run for the White House. This is a woman who sat on the board for WalMart when employees were losing their jobs. This is also a woman who has lost too much credibility in this campaign. The only decent candidate is Obama. I remained on the fence for a long time but this woman has lost any ounce of dignity she had left when she played the race card against Obama. It is not just those pictures of him in traditional African dress, but those of him that were doctored to make him look darker when she knew what kind of a reaction that would have. Yet the previous blogger claims that she could heal relationships around the world when she uses race as an instrument of fear in her own campaign.

Finally, I think an interesting point should be mentioned that I had seen on British news earlier, a chief Republican strategist was asked who McCain would rather oppose in the White House fight. The man answered Hillary because McCain believes that Obama will be a tougher fight. The consensus is that Hillary's supporters would back Obama if he ran for the White House whereas Obama supporters may be not so much. If a key strategist can openly state that McCain is more reluctant to take on Obama then surely that might indicate who might secure a Democratic victory.

As for the message of hope. Hope is what keeps people going when they have nothing. I have travelled to some of the poorest regions of the world and when I sit with these people they say that hope is one of the most important elements in their lives. Perhaps we have become too cynical in the West. This man is an intelligent, dignified man who offers change. Isn't that what people are now hungry for? Or is it more of the same? Why is it such a crime to offer the possibility for reform? I sincerely hope that Americans don't miss this opportunity. Yes BILL Clinton was an excellent president, but times have changed, society has changed and the past is the past for a reason. Look to your future and learn from your past, don't try to recreate something that once was. The end result may be more disappointing than your present.

Alex said...

That's pretty impassioned stuff...I'd have to say that I pretty much agree with you down the line.

But there IS something that needs to a least be considered. Hillary's supporters (and there are a fair amount of them) are different from Obama's supporters.

As a rule, Obama supporters tend to be young, technically savvy, well educated and more independent of party.(Leaving the race card out of it for a moment- the Clinton's have always had VERY strong support in the African American community.)

Hillary's supporters, on the other hand (leaving the gender card out of it), tend to be more working class, with less education, and more loyal to the Democratic party.

In other words, they might more closely fit the picture of "the average American".

These are the people who, to quote Jimmy Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life "do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community".

When we Americans worry that children may not have opportunities for education, for health care, decent employment and their fair share of "the American Dream"...it is often these people's children of whom we are thinking.

The key to having a prosperous, happy, safe and FREE society lies in having large middle class which is happy, prosperous, safe and free.

So, not only are these people important as individuals (everyone is), but they are of the utmost importance as a group to America's future.

And, it does NOT pay to take them for granted. These people were overwhelmingly in the Democratic Camp following the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s.

Over the decades, however, the Democratic party, in it's heroic struggle to broaden the rights of minorities, seemed to loose sight of this bedrock core of support.

Republicans Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan wooed many of them over to the Republican party- and the Democrats have been reeling from that loss ever since...

It is thanks to having lost them that we have been inflicted with 8 years of George W. Bush and all that has come to pass.

Now, Bush stands greatly discredited...but those bedrock, solid ORDINARY voters still don't seem to be willing to trust the Democratic party.

Those that DO, seem to be hanging with Hillary...so again, it's very important to know what they are thinking, and why, and try to engage in a dialog.

Your comment was great though, I agree with you pretty much all the way and I'm glad you stopped by.

Anonymous said...

See, when you start agreeing to all the ridiculous stuff (including calling Clinton racist and the idiotic idea of doctored pictures of Obama) being said by other Obama supporters, that's when I start questioning if the typical Obama supporters are indeed rational in their support. And then I start questioning if you are actually interested in engaging in a constructive dialog with Clinton supporters or if you are just blogging for the heck of it. Sorry but your agreement with the reply of the previous commenter is very disappointing.

Alex said...

Dear Anonymous-

Yes, I AM actually interested in a dialog- (although anybody who isn't "blogging for the heck of it" is a professional writer- so, to that charge, I'll plead guilty. I'm blogging for the fun of discussing things with people like parasite queen and you.)

After reading your comment, I actually went out, and found a few more articles that explained why a young woman (who wasn't a particularly rabid feminist) is thinking about supporting HRC, and another article which focused a little bit more in depth why white, working class dems might support her, too.

In my answer to Parasite Girl (who I did agree with about Obama, I've made no bones about being an Obama supporter)- I was actually trying to stress that, while I was glad she dropped by and expressed an opinion- I thought the arguments she made, that I might made, too, didn't quite cover the subject at all.

What is really intriguing to me about Hillary's supporters versus Obama's supporters is not race, or gender. Being a white male, and, hell, even a Protestant to boot, I don't have a personal stake in the race/gender issue. Being a Liberal, I'm actually ready for a day when we can "judge [them not] by the color of their skin [or Gender] but by the content of their character."

What is intriguing to me is the
split between economic and social groups.

As you mentioned, you yourself would, demographically speaking, be more likely to fall into the Obama camp than the Clinton Camp.

The Obama voters (excluding those who may be voting out of ethnic pride) tend to be those who are better able to take care of themselves in the world we face today- educated, technically savvy younger and better trained to compete in the global economy.

The Clinton supporters,(setting aside those who are motived Feminist pride) on the other hand, tend to be those Americans who are LESS able to defend themselves in a rapidly globalising economy and in the face of a massive change in the role of technology.

Even on terms of race, this is born out, I believe. Obama's African American supporters were slow to come to him at the beginning. The Black community in America had enjoyed very warm relations with the Clintons. I think their early reluctance to cross over to Obama was that Hillary's legacy some how spoke to them more deeply than Obama did- not in terms of race, but in terms of economics and the chance for a better life.

And to me, this is really the discussion we should be having in our party- why do some feel that the other leading Democratic Candidate has nothing to say to them that resonates?

And what does this split bode, both in the general election and for the future of the country?

Heather said...

This is an interesting question, and I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about it. This of course makes me a little late to the comment party.

First let me say that I have not decided between these candidates. When I voted in the NH Primary, I didn't vote for either one. Now my candidate of choice is out of it, which leaves me having to choose yet again. And not very happily, to tell the truth.

My current thoughts on the two of them are still very mixed. While I'm emotionally lured by many things said by Obama, I'm just not sure he's going to deliver what I personally need. Hope and change are all well and good, and who doesn't want that? Hope and change will not pay for the home heating fuel I desperately need to get at $3.44 a gallon, though.

Being a woman I will say that I would like to see a woman in the White House at least once in my lifetime. That doesn’t mean I can completely support Hillary. There is a lot about her that frankly scares me. Is Bill an asset or a liability? My experience with Bill in the White House was pretty positive over all, but I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that having another Clinton in the White House will be anything like the first.

So many candidates past and present have promised change. How much change have we really seen? I don't believe that ANY president can ever fulfill their promises. The nature of a democracy makes it impossible for a president to make any sweeping changes, and while this is a good thing, it certainly hinders their ability to follow through on everything.

Yes, the war in Iraq is a big problem. Yes, I would like to see that resolved. Yes, there are many other issues facing us right now that need our attention. Health Care, foreign relations, Social Security, environmental issues and the economy to name just a few. So many areas need attention, and every one is crucial.

I would like to see someone in the White House with the ability and common sense to figure this stuff out. I'd like someone in the White House who can make it remotely possible for my family to manage on the pay checks we receive each week.

Am I going to get that with any of the candidates? I can hope all I want, but I don't think so.

I’m not as tuned in to all of this as you are, Alex, so I’m coming at this from a very different angle. I also realize that I haven't answered your question...only asked more questions. Who is ultimately going to have the strength of will to make these changes? That’s who I’ll vote for.

Molly Patten said...

At the end of the day, I want a Democratic President. In the general election, I think people will vote against Hillary rather than for McCain. I have to agree with Heather, I'm not all that enamored of either, its a lot of rhetoric. But I'm for Obama simply because I think he's not necessarily going to unite the Republicans in an effort to defeat him.
Obviously, experience counts for jack. Gov. Richardson has a ton of it and he's out. (Isnt' he? Or is the media just ignoring him?) So my vote is, well, against the Republicans. And I think that is best given to Barack.

Kate said...

There's actually a www.factcheck.org article about whether or not Clinton's campaign purposefully darkened Obama's skin. Check it out. There's so much to say, and so many ways to say it badly... best to err on the side of checking facts first (tho' I realize that's hard to do with the state of our media these days).

Me, I want a candidate who won't waste time and money on rallying this country's citizens for a modern day witch hunt. And by witch hunt I mean the politics of fear. Whether used against other countries, ethnicities, social classes... or on the campaign trail.

Alex, thanks for providing a forum for this discussion. We all benefit from your willingness to talk about this and educate yourself.

jess said...

I'm agreeing with Heather and Molly on this one.
No one can deliver the goods, really.
When can we get an election that's about the issues - really about the issues and how to fix em - and not divided by party lines and money?
Bill Richardson where are you??!!

Alex Ball said...

I was actually referring to the charges (about the African dress photos) and, by extension, the infamous Obama is a Terrorist email that I get once a week from the right-wing underground...

The site you gave me, though is really great, and I'll definitely be bookmarking it.