The End of the 2016 Democratic Primary Is Literally A Reboot of 2008

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at a Las Vegas debate during the 2008 Democratic Primary

I wrote this in June, 2008 for GayWired.com, which has since folded. I knew it was in my archives and that it was probably somewhat relevant to the current Democratic Primary — I had no idea just how relevant. There truly is nothing new under the sun.

Dr. Changelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Obama

A few weeks ago Hillary Clinton did what more than 18 million voters have dreaded for months now: she conceded victory in the Democratic primary election to Senator Barack Obama.

Although Obama has led in the popular vote and delegate counts for months, the Clinton campaign and her many supporters had pointedly refused to acknowledge defeat. Clinton has made sweeping speeches about hearing from every Democratic voter amidst a barrage of cries for her to exit the race starting as early as Obama’s victory in the Iowa caucuses in January.

During her speech as the final votes were being counted in the last two states to vote, Montana and South Dakota, some supporters chanted “Denver! Denver!” refusing to accept that Clinton could possibly have come this far and lost.

Neither side has been particularly gracious in victory or defeat. It is difficult for staunch Clinton backers to stomach a whole hearted turn to Obama’s camp. In a comment on a recent article about Obama’s final victory in the delegate count, one responder said “I think she needs to see a therapist. And anyone who still thinks she won last night. Group therapy I suggest to all of you.”

One blogger and Clinton supporter, responding to such rhetoric she and others find cruel or spiteful, wrote this week, “I…[feel] her supporters should give Obama the EXACT treatment that his supporters have given her.”

The frustration of die-hard Clinton supporters has perked up one particularly important set of ears. In Louisiana this week, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain said, “I think there’s a lot of Senator Clinton’s supporters who will support me because of their belief that Senator Obama does not have the experience or the knowledge or the judgment to address this nation’s national security challenges.” He said he would greatly welcome Clinton supporters’ votes in November.

A frightening rallying cry has emerged from deep within the ranks of the Clinton followers, stemming either from distaste for Obama or for the Democratic National Committee in general, the latter particularly centered in Florida and Michigan, who saw their delegates granted half a vote, and also saw Obama pick up a pack of delegates from Michigan, where his name was not on the ballot in January. “I’ll…cast my vote for McCain and teach them respect for the voters!” one blogger said.

A topic of major and exciting discussion is the possibility of a “dream ticket:” Obama-Clinton ’08. Clinton has quietly hinted interest, and many of her supporters will accept nothing less. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey said, “I think the winning side should do the reaching out…to Clinton supporters to solidify the Democratic Party.”

A New York Times editorial days before Clinton’s withdrawal said, “For…Obama, the leadership test begins with giving…Clinton’s backers a place in his campaign.”

But with Obama making no promises, and journalists compiling lists about “Why Obama Will Not Pick Hillary,” even voters not mad enough to vote Republican are losing hope and lapsing into a funk.

One comment left on a newsfeed stated, “I am tired of having to hold my nose as I cast my vote for president. So, this time, I’m simply not going to do it. If I were ‘pouty’ about Clinton not getting the nom, I would have changed my vote to McCain.” Many voters remember their ambivalence towards John Kerry in 2004 and feel similarly for the now presumptive Democratic nominee, and see no other option but to remove themselves from the process altogether rather than ink their ballots without their hearts’ consent.

I am devastated that Clinton did not win, and until recently refused to admit that she had not, despite my better judgment and rational knowledge. I cringe when I see silkscreen posters around Los Angeles featuring Obama’s beatific visage and words like “Change” and “Hope,” remembering hateful or hurtful things some had said about my choice for Commander in Chief. My fingers hurt from being crossed so hard that Clinton will still fill the second slot on the Democratic ticket. I have been tempted to toss out my sample ballot when it arrives this fall, wondering what the point is when my opinion and that of 18 million others is still not enough to change the world.

But now I am ready to say this in print, for the record, no taking it back: I support Barack Obama for President in 2008.

It hurts now to say it, but rationally I know that my enthusiasm for him is bound to increase over time. My gut still needs to see President Hillary Clinton, but my brain needs to see Democratic President [Insert Name Here].

In the next four to eight years, it is almost inevitable that America will lose one or more of our aging Supreme Court Justices, and at least three of the four progressives are near the exit.

Though Democrats hold majorities in Congress, they are far from veto-proof. Roe v. Wade survives only because it is buoyed by one (aging) moderate on the Supreme Court. The death penalty, same-sex marriage, taxation and immigration reform top the list of hot-button issues in which the Court and the legislature will play a crucial historic role in the term of the next president. Said president must be Barack Obama and not faux maverick McCain.

Even those disappointed enough to stay home in the fall but not angry or foolish enough to vote for McCain are cutting off their noses. California faces a landmark vote to preserve same-sex marriage in the face of angry resistance from the right. Other states have similar issues on the ballot. Even in the most banal elections, ballot measures appear which can quietly but disastrously affect the lives of progressive Americans, and they need to be judged by all supporters of both Senators Clinton and Obama, no matter what they feel about one another.

Four months ago I would never have imagined my current state. Yet I have managed to journey through denial, anger, bargaining, and despair to arrive, battered and worn, at the fifth stage of grief: acceptance.

In an email to her supporters announcing her withdrawal from the race, Clinton wrote, “My differences with Senator Obama are small compared to the differences we have with Senator McCain and the Republicans.” My vote for Barack Obama in November will be my tribute to everything Hillary Clinton stands for, and my salute to a brave and invigorating candidate for a job wonderfully done.