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Thursday, August 28, 2008

LIVE from Denver: Roll call vote an emotional moment for Clinton delegates

Last night was another one for the history books.

As a Clinton delegate, the only way I can think to describe the experience is up and down and all around. At the Hillary delegation event earlier in the day, Hillary formally released her delegates, asked us again to support Obama in November, told us she intended to vote for Obama, and asked us to "vote your conscience".

The roll call vote at the convention took quite an emotional toll on the Washington Clinton delegates. Speaking for myself, I felt angry at the way it was handled--it seemed like any state which might give Hillary a strong showing (California, for example), passed. And a large number of Clinton delegates voted for Obama.

I spoke with delegates from two other states, and they described being pressured intensely at their morning delegation breakfasts to vote for Obama.

While I respect any Clinton delegates conscious and voluntary decision to seek party unity by voting for Obama, I felt outraged at the coercion.

When Hillary moved to suspend the rules and nominate Obama by acclimation, several Clinton delegates, including me, broke down and cried.

Then came intermission. That was the low point of the entire week for me -emotionally and physically drained, and a bit numb.

One of the unexpected by welcome gestures of unity came from some of the Obama delegates, who gave out compassionate hugs.

Fortunately, things got better from there, as we heard from Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and Joe Biden. Bill was incredible, as usual, though I must say Hillary was even better last night. As for Kerry, if he had spoken four years ago like he did last night, this convention would have been all about his re-election campaign. Biden's son gave a moving speech and introduced his father Joe.

Joe Biden's speech was riveting when he spoke from the heart about his family, but went back to typical when he started on the "message" part of his speech. Obama made an on-stage appearance, and the session ended on a high note.

So what about unity? For me, unity means a group of people working cohesively to achieve a common goal, in this case working to elect Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.

But the path to unity differs from person to person. I needed closure and a catharsis before I could truly feel part of the Obama movement.

Before last night I intended to vote for Obama in November, but did not feel good about it. But for me, last night brought me to a place where I can feel comfortable voting for Obama in November. I am now wearing Obama buttons.

I realize that most of you reading are probably Obama supporters, and I don't know know if you can relate to my experience.

But I hope you can at least understand it.


Blogger DiAnne said...

I can understand it. I was a strong Kerry supporter when I only knew about four of them in Seattle and every one was for Dean or Kucinich - fine men all.

I started out as a Clinton supporter when it was not proper to admit that in "progressive" circles, much as Kerry supporters were looked down on by some Deaniancs because of the IWR (which would apply to Clinton too.)

I hate it when there is lasting disunity between Democrats so things are taking a nice turn, but believe me, as a strong Obama supporter I do kind of understand what a Clinton supporter might feel. I wasn't born yesterday so my first disappointment was with Eugene McCarthy not being elected and RFK being shot, later with George McGovern. It goes on, as I was not at all fond (to put it mildly) of Reagan or Bush I.

August 28, 2008 10:56 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Mike - here's part of a message I posted to the 45th LD mailing list on the subject...

I find it interesting to compare the primary versus caucus state delegations in yesterday's roll-call. The common complaint about the caucuses is that they're less democratic. But the national delegations in primary states tend to be mostly party insiders, while caucus state delegations are a mix of party officials and grass-roots stalwarts for the candidates. This difference shows up enormously in how the delegations voted yesterday. Some examples:

New Jersey, a primary state which had a delegation of 55 Obama, 71 Clinton, and 1 undeclared (that's a combination of super delegates and pledged delegates), went unanimously for Obama. Arkansas, another primary state, had a delegation of 8 Obama, 38 Clinton, and 1 undeclared. They mistakenly cast 47 for Obama, but the intended vote was to have been 37 Obama and 10 Clinton. Clinton won Florida; counting in supers, it was 91 Clinton / 111 Obama / 6 undeclared supers. They cast 136 Obama / 51 Clinton / 1 abstain in the roll call. Etc.

Meanwhile, all of the pledged Clinton delegates (including Mike) from Washington voted for Clinton in the roll-call (conducted with paper ballots before the big TV spectacle). Colorado had been 47 Obama / 23 Clinton, went 55 / 15. Alaska had been 14 Obama / 4 Clinton, and voted 15 / 3. And so on. The small differences for the caucus states were probably among the previously declared superdelegates.

Now, it's up for debate which way is the better way - pre-emptively move away from voter totals to declare unity, or to follow through on the voters' instructions and close ranks afterwards. It's clear, I think, that a caucus state will tend to stick with the original voter intent.

My own opinion is that I'm proud of Mike and the other pledged Clinton delegates from our state for sticking with their candidate and letting the wishes of the voters carry through to the convention. It makes the follow-up statement of party unity, the vote by acclamation to endorse Obama, that much more meaningful I think.

August 29, 2008 9:12 AM  

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