Realization: Hillary Supporters = Naderites

Never underestimate the liberal ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

In 2000, disgruntled liberals who felt that Gore wasn’t progressive enough cast their votes for Ralph Nader, which ended up being the difference in a close election that handed the White House to Bush. Rather than be realists, and cast a vote that would count, they decided to vote for their narrow interests, despite not having a shot at winning. It was hubris, in my opinion — a common failing (and one that I’ve certainly fallen prey to, myself). In the end, we all paid the price of their principles.

Now, in 2008, we have a similar situation. Hillary supporters claim that there isn’t really any policy difference between her and Obama. I don’t believe this (given her war authorization votes, her introduction of an anti-flag-burning bill, her support of the Patriot Act, her views on the Unitary Executive, etc.), but let’s just say we’ll take that position as true. Fine — there’s no policy difference between the two.

Given that, why not vote for Obama over Clinton? If you’re getting the same policies, why cast your vote on a candidate who, according to recent polls draws 50/50 with the Republican front-runner in a general election, when the polls show Obama winning against the Republican candidate by a wide margin?

Why risk handing the election to the Republicans, when the policy differences are (supposedly) nonexistant?

It’s Nader all over again. Hillary supporters will throw away the general election, just to make a point.

31 Replies to “Realization: Hillary Supporters = Naderites”

  1. You know, it might better sway those of us who are still on the fence if you started posting more positive things about your candidate of choice and fewer things that are basically attack ads.

    You say: “Hillary supporters will throw away the general election, just to make a point.”

    It seems unfortunate that you assume someone who supports Clinton is doing so “just to make a point” instead of allowing that they might actually prefer her as a candidate. The folks I know who support her support her for very good reasons–at least to them. They’re not supporting her as a way to throw a childish political tantrum, as you seem to indicate.

    It’s one thing to dislike a candidate and attempt to sway people against that candidate. It’s another thing to (inaccurately in my eyes) judge people’s actions as something other than what they are.

  2. You miss my point — If, as Hillary supporters claim, there’s no difference between the two, then why not go for less risk of losing the general election?

    That’s not an attack. That’s a question of logic and reasoning.

  3. It’s not about doing the rational thing, it’s about doing the right thing. Right according to one’s particular faith. Right now Obama looks like the Golden Child, the duly annointed successor to Saint Gore and Saint Kerry. He is the prophet of God and surely cannot fail.

    Wait until he is adorned with his Armor of Righteousness and his Sword of Puissance, and watch as he’s torn down and vilified by the same people who now worship him. For there’s nothing journalists and intellectuals hate worse than popularity.

    I think it was G. K. Chesterton who once asked, “When did the idea that something does not have to be popular to be good, become anything popular cannot be good?”

  4. Another thing — if pointing out facts about a candidate (her voting record, for example, or the things that her campaign has been doing, outside of the Media spotlight) are “basically attack ads”…..

    Well, then I guess that I’m guilty….and that it appears that facts have taken a back-seat to Unique Special Snowflake Rainbow Unicorn Self-Esteem in the ability of adults to form opinions.

  5. The people I know who support Clinton are not claiming that there’s no difference. They’re supporting her, as I said, for reasons. Reasons they define and elaborate.

    Just as you can’t say “all Muslims” “all Feminists” “all Men” etc., you can’t say “all Clinton supporters.” People simply can’t be lumped together like that.

    I disagree with your claim that this (and other similar posts) aren’t attacks on Clinton (or Clinton supporters). They certainly appear so to me, and I’m far from being a Clinton supporter, so I don’t have an investment there. For that matter, I’m not registered under either party, so I can’t vote in the caucus anyway. It doesn’t matter whom I support here.

    I’m also unsure how you think the polls of “Hillary supporters” prove that she will take votes away from Democrats. The polls in New Hampshire couldn’t predict the results the day of polling. You expect that polls can predict something that’s still nine months out?

    I don’t think your statement is made of logic and reasoning. It seems to me to be based more on emotional reaction. Which is fine–I mean, our political beliefs are something that elicit very strong emotional reactions. But presenting a stance where you are basically calling another group names is not a question of logic and reasoning.

    I might have missed your point, but you also missed mine: Posts praising Obama are going to sell the candidate. If one is going to pay attention to polls, one should also note that most polls show people are tired of negative ads.

  6. I’m not saying you’re not entitled to opinions. I’m also not saying that pointing out voting records equals an attack ad. What I responded to was the fact that you have progressed from speaking against a candidate to disparaging people who support her.

    I have said myself that people who support Bush, etc., are foolish and deluded. I’ll stand by that. I think it’s perfectly fine if you think Clinton supporters are moronic numbnuts. Whatever, that’s your opinion. But saying that they’re supporting her just so they can be spiteful is silly. And it doesn’t do a thing to sway me to the Obama camp.

    You seem to be very eager to get defensive and declare yourself guilty of things.

  7. It’s entirely possible for a reasonable person to think that, today’s polls aside, Clinton would do better than Obama vs. McCain in the general election. Remember, there are months between now and then, when lots can happen.

    (Further, the poll you cite is just a California poll, which (as much as I’d like it to be) is not representative of the whole country, or even parts of the country likely to help a Democratic candidate into office.)

    As a currently-undecided Democratic voter, I completely respect your support for Obama, but I wish you’d respect that there are reasonable people who might support Clinton, even if they don’t agree with your observations and conclusions. The party does not need to be fractured the way the Republican party looks like it might (fingers crossed).

  8. I have a different point to add in the post-postitive-instead-of-negative idea, and it’s this: Brains work on positive associations. So when you post things in an attempt to negate a perspective, it will end up working against you.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/03/AR2007090300933_pf.html

    With one day left, it doesn’t matter a whole bunch, and I have found your posts very informative no matter the angle, but I offer it as something to consider and ammo to add to your arsenal for future posting.

  9. Also, I’d like to point out that you said, in a comment in this post that you would vote for McCain over Clinton, just to prove a point to Democrats. You did cite other reasons for voting that way, but number one was “To punish the Democrats and send a clear message.”

    How is that different from Clinton supporters wanting to stand by their candidate to “send a message” (or “just to make a point”)? It’s possible, I suppose, that some Clinton supporters support her largely “just to make a point.” But I’m sure they have at least two other reasons, as well.

  10. But saying that they’re supporting her just so they can be spiteful is silly.

    But that’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m saying that they, like Nader voters, are more interested in voting their principles….even if, rationally, that might lead to a greater risk of losing the general election.

    I’m not attributing that to spite….although I can see where you’re getting that, from my “make a point” statement. That’s not how I meant that, though. I meant that they’d rather stick to their principle of supporting Clinton (which, from most supporters I speak to, comes down to gender politics) than go for a “cynical” playing of the numbers game.

  11. The fact that it’s a California poll, which is supposed to be a “Blue-state stronghold”, and yet she can only manage a crap-shoot with the Republican front runner…. that should tell you something about the national picture.

  12. I think one thing that might be a sticking point for Gareth–I know it is for me–is this:

    As an avowed Liberal Democrat, I cannot think of one issue where I agree with Clinton but not Obama. Not one. It’s possible that such issues exist and I’m simply not aware of them, but if so, she’s certainly not going out of her way to hype them. I cannot come up with one reason why she’d make a better candidate or president, and I can think of many why she’d be a worse one.

    I understand that some people have reasons for supporting Clinton over Obama. But, at least if we’re talking about the Democratic Party mainstream, I cannot for the life of me comprehend what those might actually be.

    So it’s very easy to assume that any Democrat voting for Clinton over Obama has an agenda. It may not be an accurate assumption, but I understand fully why people make it.

  13. I’m saying that they, like Nader voters, are more interested in voting their principles

    I would never criticize somebody for voting based on principles. I suppose that’s where we differ.

  14. So you (hypothetical) voting for McCain over Clinton isn’t a matter of principles? Voting for McCain over Clinton certainly would damage the overall cause–wouldn’t it? Or have you changed your stance on that?

    Now that we’ve established that we completely don’t agree on the issue, I’m just curious about that previous opinion of yours.

  15. To be honest, I’m on the fence on that. I’ve met McCain, got a sense of him personally, and have agreed with some of his positions….but he’s been such a water-carrier for the current administration that at times I’ve often wondered what they “had on him”, to keep him in line. The backsliding in his principled stances over the past 8 years is a real concern for me. If I was voting for the man I met in 99, it wouldn’t be a question. I’m just not sure he’s that man, any longer.

    There are absolute red-flag no-go issues for me with Clinton (which I’ve ennumerated before).

    Not voting is not an option.

    Therefore, the question for me becomes a “lesser of two evils” proposition. Do I have faith in voting for McCain based on those few areas where we agree, or do I hold my nose and vote for the centrist, even though many of her positions are anathema to my beliefs?

    The worst part about it is that I honestly think that Clinton is banking on that latter impulse — that she’s gonna get the votes of Obama’s supporters in the general election, because we have no choice. That really makes me angry, and reminds me of Dennis Moore’s behavior.

    So, long story short: I don’t know.

  16. (Remember that Gareth’s position there was in response to a very specific situation I posited; in a different situation (e.g. close race, but Congress likely to turn Republican), he may choose to vote differently, as indeed he may in the end even if that exact situation turns out to be the case.)

  17. The one place I have some disagreement with Obama is on the space program. It’s a tiny piece of the national budget, but he wants to delay the next generation of shuttles by five years. If we do that, we lose the ISS. Period, full stop, end of story. And I think that’s a dreadfully short-sighted policy for someone who’s campaigning on hope and looking forward.

    It’s not enough to pull my support for him in and of itself, though.

  18. Given the state of our economy (thank you, Dubya), the state of our national debt (thank you, Dubya), and the fact that the ISS *shouldn’t* just be OUR responsibility (I is for International, innit?), I can’t see that decision as anything but sensible, sadly.

  19. Roughly one half of one percent of the federal budget. That’s what we’re talking about for what amounts to the future of manned spaceflight. And whether or not it’s our sole responsibility, didn’t it used to be this Country’s role to lead in things like that, for the betterment of all mankind?

    I refuse to be conservative or sensible on that particular item and I’ll happily agree to disagree with you.

  20. I’m in the exact opposite position I was in four years ago. Four years ago, heading into Super Tuesday, I didn’t like any of the front runners. None of the Democrats left in the race were worth my time except as the Anyone But Bush vote (which I eventually, grudgingly cast). It wasn’t just a matter of disaffection with their respective Cults of Personality; I did not think any of them would be good leaders. It stuck in my craw to cast a John Kerry vote, but I did it because he was the lesser of the two evils. I’ve never really forgiven the Democrats for putting me in that position, and it’s one of the things that got me as active and vocal as I am.

    This time around? There is a candidate I can support with actual positive enthusiasm because I can see him doing a good job. That makes me pretty happy. Ironically, the last time I felt this enthused about someone with a real chance to make the ticket was 1992…

    What actually makes me happier is that I could, quite honestly, cast a vote for three of the four current front-runners and not hate myself for doing it. I find Senator Clinton to be a reprehensible *person* but I think she’d be a reasonably good *leader* (sort of like a photo-negative Jimmy Carter, who is an excellent human being and was an appalling President). Senator McCain has certainly lost a lot of the respect I had for him in 2000, but like Senator Clinton I believe he would be a competent leader. If it comes down to Obama/Either Republican or Either Democrat/Romney, I know how I’m voting, but if it comes to Clinton/McCain I don’t actually know how I’ll vote because I like them about equally on matters of policy, voting history, and public statement. Not for spite, not to teach anyone a lesson, but because for the first time in my voting memory, three out of four likely options are at least palatable to me.

    I know you have some deal-breakers with Hillary Clinton and I respect that, but it seems like you focus a lot on what you don’t like about this political race and not so much on what you do.

  21. it seems like you focus a lot on what you don’t like about this political race and not so much on what you do.

    Maybe it’s the Midwestern tendency to freak out when people say anything negative, but for whatever reason, people seem to focus on the “negative” things I post, and forget all of the positive stuff I’ve posted about the race (my initial “Why Obama’s Win Matters”, the linking of the inspirational music video, the quoting of essays, with my comments as to why I agree with them, etc.).

    Whatever. I’m beginning to suspect that it’s just a cultural thing, and I’ll never understand it.

  22. For what it’s worth, I didn’t pay close attention to your posts earlier in the campaign season (though I probably should have), and so the recent series of anti-Clinton posts is what’s in my mind.

  23. I’m not ignorant of the positive things you post. Some of them have been very good.

    However, the degree of passion you devote to vitriol seems to greatly exceed the degree of passion you devote to enthusiasm. And while few of your negative posts ever contain something positive (like this one), many of your positive posts do contain some element of the negative. That leads to the overall perception that you talk more and focus more on the negatives.

    I don’t know that it’s a Midwestern thing, necessarily. I see it quite a bit where I am, this disaffection with the negative focus, the attack ads, the hate speech, and the venom. I think it’s that you’re coming up against a growing movement to step away from the sort of screaming antagonism that’s characterized most of the elections I can remember (I only have clear memories back to the Carter Presidency, though…). In every election, there have been people disgusted by the cheap-shot politics of trashing your opponent instead of talking about the reasons you like the candidate you do. There are just a lot more of us this time around, and we’ve gotten vocal.

  24. Ironically enough, one of my main reasons for supporting Obama is because he’s a clear step away from the partisan war.

    And, I’m sorry — it’s very much a “middle of the country” thing (and yes, TX counts): Don’t say anything negative — even if it’s not an opinion, but a fact — because it’s somehow rude or somesuch nonsense.

    I don’t buy it, and never have. Facts are facts — if they turn out to paint a negative image of someone, well, that’s too bad. Reality is a harsh mistress. :)

  25. Perhaps what people are suggesting to you is a gentle reminder that “I can’t support this candidate because of her position on Issues A, B, and C,” is very different from, “I can’t believe this candidate’s supporters would be stupid enough to support her, because she’ll cost us the general election.”

    The first is a purely factual statement and would not cross over into ‘negativity’ by any scale with which I’m familiar. The second is pure opinion based on your *interpretation* of a fact (the CA polls), and is very much negative. The first is a crucial element of rational debate; the second is inflammatory rhetoric that does nothing to advance the cause of reasonable discourse.

    I think what you’re seeing as an example of a ‘Middle Country’ reluctance to speak ill (Ann Richards and Molly Ivins are snickering in their graves right now to hear you say that…) is actually a stylistic difference. For example, rather than say, “Rick Perry is a pompous, conceited, vacuous, empty-headed showpiece of a Governor with no real substance. He’s entirely image-based and less interested in the welfare of his constituents than he is in how he is perceived by those in power,” Molly Ivins simply tagged him “Governor Hairdo.” Says all the same things without saying them, and years later, even from the grave she dogs him with that nickname. It may well be that you’re missing a certain sort of laconic ‘Middle Country’ subtle sarcasm in the understatement of negative viewpoints.

    If you think we’re not saying anything negative, you’re missing our subtext. I was not raised to avoid speaking ill of others, but rather to do it with a certain degree of subtlety and discretion, and to speak insults more softly than compliments. That is very much a Midwestern trait, as far as I know. You should hear my sweet kindergarten teacher mother talk about some of the school district officials (“Brilliant man, I’m sure, if only he could find a haystack in a needle…”). Just ask anyone who’s ever stood next to me at a party for any significant amount of time how Midwesterners are about speaking negativity.

  26. I’m surprised by some of the reaction to GMS’s post. I don’t think it is an attack at all, and certainly not by GMS standards. If you don’t know he can be a bit prickly at times, this must be your first visit here. ;-)

    Personally, I do think there is very little to distinguish Clinton and Obama from a policy standpoint. The differences already referenced I think can be largely attributed Obama’s luxury of being able to avoid some politically thorny issues by virtue of his relative newness to the game.

    Now, if you don’t think that Clinton is a hugely polarizing figure throughout the country, you are being willfully blind. This isn’t a matter of just looking at some California polls or listening to every pundit who has something to say on the matter. Talk to your Republican and independent friends. A good friend of mine has said rather bluntly that he probably won’t vote at all unless it’s McCain vs. Clinton in which case he’s voting for McCain. We can’t forget how she was demonized by Republicans 10-odd years ago. Nothing has changed since then. That such a visceral reaction to the woman might be irrational misses the point. It is not an attack and not much of a stretch to note that Obama offers a safer choice for Democrats in the general election. Obviously, it is not a guarantee that Obama would fare better in the general election than Clinton, but in the words of the great Eight Ball, all signs point to yes.

  27. Perhaps what people are suggesting to you is a gentle reminder that “I can’t support this candidate because of her position on Issues A, B, and C,” is very different from, “I can’t believe this candidate’s supporters would be stupid enough to support her, because she’ll cost us the general election.”

    Yes. Excellently put. Thank you.

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