Taking Our Ball And Going Home: It’s Not Irrational

Recently, the women at Slate.com’s XX Factor have started to make a big deal about how Obama supporters wouldn’t vote for Clinton in the general election.  That is, since Clinton and Obama’s policies are similar, it’s irrational for Obama supporters to not still vote for Clinton should she take the nomination.

Rosa Brooks:

I don’t get it. How can someone be mad at Hillary for attacking Obama in the same way Republicans might/will attack Obama but threaten to retaliate against Hillary, should her attacks on Obama prove successful, by voting for … the Republican candidate?

Dahlia Lithwick:

And I agree with you completely that the people who say they will vote for McCain if their Dem of choice isn’t crowned appear to be drunk.

Emily Bazelon:

The other problem with the craziness you point to, Rosa, is that it makes the Obama-Clinton divide seem like it’s about policy and substance, as opposed to personal preference and leadership style…


…if the Democratic candidate who wins isn’t your guy or gal, he or she is still going to do a whole lot more to deliver for you on the issues you care about, if you’re liberal or semi-liberal, than the Republican.

Emily Bazelon is correct on one point at least.  The difference between Clinton and Obama is mostly personal preference and leadership style (there are definitely substantive differences too, more so than most analysts credit, but obviously McCain is far different than them than they are to each other).  However, that’s not to say one should vote for Clinton should she take the nomination.


Now, I freely concede that if Clinton takes the nomination fairly, then I would still vote for her.  If she took it unfairly (the superdelegates overturn the pledged delegates, or Michigan and Florida overturn the results), then, as I previously posted, I would have a big dilemma on my hands. 


However, it is not irrational for an Obama supporter to not vote for Clinton in a general election even if she took the nomination fairly.  It’s not only what your fighting for, but how you fight.  A big reason people have come to Obama is because he promises a change in tone.  We’re sick and tired of the political grandstanding instead of actually working together to get things done.  Clinton shows us that it’s not just the Republicans who are at fault for this type of political nonsense.  As such, if Clinton were the nominee, then it more than makes sense for Obama supporters, especially those who are independent or Republican, to not vote for her come November.


But there are definitely other issues that could cause an Obama supporter not to vote Clinton.  In fact, one such issue is about “the issues.”  The argument goes that Obama supporters should vote Clinton because they have similar policies.  The problem that this raises for many on the Obama side, however, is that, again, it’s not just about what you’re fighting for, but how you fight the fight.  With the way Clinton operates, turning off many people in the meantime, many of us do not think that Clinton would be successful in getting much done.  In fact, she might actually do damage to our issues, as well as to the Democratic Party.  As such, four years of McCain might not be worse than 4-8 years of Clinton.


And then there’s spite.  It’s perhaps the most “irrational” reason not to vote for Clinton.  Throughout this campaign Clinton has pulled out every political trick in the book to beat Obama.  It’s not about doing good for the people, it’s about doing whatever she can to get elected.  This includes backstabbing a fellow Democrat.  Is it really irrational to not want to vote for someone who backstabbed you? 


As I’ve said, should Clinton win the nomination fairly, I’d still vote for her, but I can see why some Obama supporters wouldn’t.  It’s not irrational at all.  Should Clinton win the nomination unfairly (and it’s looking like that’s the only way she can get the nomination), I will have a big dilemma on my hands.  Four years of McCain might just do less damage to the issues than 4-8 years of Clinton.  It wouldn’t be pretty, but it might not be that bad.  Additionally, should Clinton win it by superdelegates overturning the pledged delegates, not voting for Clinton it would send a message to the Democratic party that it’s not just about the party itself, it’s about those who support them.  That certainly is anything but irrational.


But as I pointed out in that previous post about my dilemma, there’s the Supreme Court to consider.  Without the Supreme Court, I would probably not vote in the Presidential election.  But considering the damage another Republican appointee to the Court would do for years and years to come, I have to, sadly, still vote for Clinton.  It’s not something I want to do, but I would have to.  However, because there are many legitimate reasons to not vote for Clinton in the general election, I wouldn’t blame others for abstaining from voting should Clinton win the nomination.





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