I’ve been in touch with various PUMAs lately and I’ve been told that the media pays attention to our various blog posts (BTW, we can be reached at theconfluence08 at yahoo dot com. We don’t bite- hard.) It’s time we discussed what is going on in the hearts and minds of some of the PUMAs around the PUMAsphere.
Before we get started, let’s get one thing straight: most PUMAs are over the anger stage. Now, they are responding with cold blooded pragmatism. They have one goal- to be absolutely certain that Barack Obama is defeated. Contrary to popular Obamaphile opinion, the vast majority of us are Democrats. Some of us are independents. Even fewer have Republican ties. We come in all shapes and sizes, working and professional classes, education levels, ages and genders. Many of us are women but you would be very surprised to find out how many people on our conference calls are men. We are NOT Reagan Democrats. We’d really appreciate it if the media would stop trying to pigeon hole us into some model that would fit its worldview or a concept that the Obama campaign has handed them.
One of the things that sets PUMAs apart from other Democrats is our built-in BS detectors. The other thing is that we were supporters of Hillary Clinton because we saw her as the true Democrat in the race. We liked her stands on the issues, her ability to reach out to every voter and her grace under pressure. But the PUMA movement is not about Hillary. It is about us, the voters. The Obama campaign, the DNC and the media targetted *US*, Hillary’s voters, for a peculiar brand of derision, disrespect and disenfranchisement this year. It split the party in half, not based on any class distinctions exactly but more on some “perceived” distinctions. The Obama supporters think they are “special”. They are on a quest. They are projecting their own guilt about race. In short, they have been manipulated in a way that PUMAs have not. And the PUMAs know that whatever is behind this split and manipulation of the Democratic party has to be stopped or voting will become meaningless.
We have limited ability to destroy the destructive elements in the Republican party but we *do* have the ability to clean our own party. It doesn’t particularly matter to us whether the perpetrators are old stalwarts of the party, who seriously misread women who grew up at the tail end of the baby boom generation and aren’t putting up with sexist BS, or whether it is the testosterone fueled bad boyz of the Obama machine, who thought the best way to fight Rove was a Chicago style scorched earth campaign, or whether it was the 50 state strategy of the theoretically liberal, but practically stupid, Dr. Dean. Their actions during this campaign season have been reprehensible and destructive. They have deprived our party of almost certain victory and have sown defeat not only at the top of the ticket but now throughout the party. For this reason, they have got to go.
The most commonly heard phrase at most PUMA get togethers these days is “cut off the head”. That is, the primary goal is to make sure Obama and his enablers are defeated. And half measures will not do. If there is any possibility that a write in vote for Hillary will be given to Obama through state rules and regulations, it is being actively discouraged. PUMAs are under no illusions as to what will happen if Obama manages to squeak out a win, however improbable that is at the moment. Therefore, it is safe to say that PUMAs are moving increasigly towards voting for John McCain or nothing on top, depending on how their state electoral vote is likely to go.
No one should misinterpret that to mean that PUMAs agree with the Republican party in any way. We are Democrats. We do not share the Republican worldview of government. However, we do not see McCain as criminally corrupt as the Bush neo-cons. McCain does have a fairly good working relationship with Democrats. Even so, our vote is a protest vote and not in any way an affirmation of Republicanism. Obama trolls can save their breath. We don’t care if you think we are being “fooled” or that our lack of education is causing us to not see what McCain is or that Roe v. Wade is in danger, yada-yada-yada. Obama supporters had a choice to nominate a person who would have supported every thing they cared about and they let themselves be manipulated and deceived into thinking she was the devil incarnate. Well, now you have to live with your choices.
So, that is the sense I am getting. Many PUMAs are going McCain. This doesn’t mean everyone. There are still a band of us who may never be able to push that GOP button but are just as determined that Obama does not get to the White House for the reasons stated above. Please note that race doesn’t factor into our decision. This is all about the way the campaign was conducted, Obama’s running away from the Democratic brand, disenfranchisent of our votes, lack of “fair reflection” during the convention, particularly the roll call vote, rampant sexism in the party itself and hypocrisy when it comes to reproductive and abortion rights.
The problem is that we can not get people to concentrate on downticket Democrats. This is the most troubling and alarming aspect of the election season so far and, I, as a lifelong Democrat, I am very concerned about the trend I am seeing. There are several reasons why downticket Democrats and the Superdelegates that sold us out should be worried:
- Sarah Palin has re-energized the Republican base, especially evangelicals. The idea that Obama could ever win these people is ridiculous. Now, they’ve got one of their own to vote for and they have no need to listen to Obama’s campaign as it attempted to replace US with them.
- Sarah Palin has energized many feminists. There are many women who have come to realize that they were held hostage to the Democratic party that “claimed” to be supportive of women’s issues but when push came to shove, they shoved out the one woman who could actually substantiate that claim. Obama showed himself willing to sacrifice our issues when he courted the evangelical vote. The Roe v. Wade argument no longer has teeth. There are already 5 votes on the USSC to overturn it. No matter what happens at the federal level, abortion is not going to go away and if the parties think that there won’t be millions of women on the street protesting it if someone even dares to take us back to the 60’s, they’ve got another thing coming to them. Let us acknowledge what Roe really is: a political tool used by both parties to inflame their base. At this point in time, it is no longer a real player in this election cycle. It is not nearly as important as preventing a further regression of women’s progress that has happened this election cycle. Racism is off the table but public repudiation, humiliation and discrimination against women is all the rage this year. The election of Sarah Palin for VP could truncate that trend and pave the way for a woman at the top of the ticket. And when THAT happens, issues that are important to women may finally start to get the recognition that more than half of the population deserve.
- The tactics that the Democratic party has used against its own base has turned off a good portion of that base from voting for ANY Democrat this year. Many PUMAs and other Democrats are not satisfied with cutting off the head. Any Democrat that went against the wishes of their voting district and threw his/her weight for Obama at Hillary’s expense will find themselves targets in the future. Whether or not that future will be this election cycle is debatable but there will be a good number of Democrats who will not stop with voting for McCain. They will be voting straight Republican where there is an opportunity to punish Democrats who turned their backs on their voters for Obama.
Now, I’ve tried reasoning with some PUMAs that having one party Republican rule like we had from 2002-2006 is dangerous. It’s very unfair to the millions and millions of innocent citizens who will be held hostage to a Republican government. They rely on Democrats to protect social security, unemployment benefits, to pass SCHIP, to overturn the ban on stem cell research, to try to end the war, to protect our civil liberties. Of course, it might be easier to make this argument if our Democratic Congress had actually done any of these things. The point is that if there is a Republican in the White House, we need Democrats in the House and Senate to counteract aggressive and committed Movement Conservative Republicans. But in this poisonous atmosphere and with the DNC rules of engagement, one party Republican rule is what we’re headed for. Some voters cannot reconcile their consciences to vote for candidates who betrayed them at the convention.
So, there you have it. The Democratic Party made a mess of things. It thought it could ignore the voters. It misread women. It adopted Chicago style campaign tactics in violation of its own stated principles. It installed an inexperienced, unscrupulous, yet politically naive, less than one full term Senator at its helm at the expense of one of the best candidates it’s had in 16 years. Voters have had to live with Republicans for eight straight years and were looking for a break. What we’re getting instead is another Republican party in the guise of a Democratic party. We can’t have that. So the PUMAs are going to make absolutely sure that the party apparatus that gave us Obama and his organization is destroyed. We were hoping to make the next four years bearable by having enough downticket Dems in Congress. But the party overplayed its hand here as well and has put the entire party at risk.
I realize that it is pointless to ask the party elders to do something about it. They ignored us before the convention and there is no reason for them to pay any attention now. But they deny reality at their own risk. We are not voting for Obama under any circumstances and if there is any calculation that relies on us for his win, then the party is looking at certain defeat. We can not make this any clearer to you. When people tell you what they are going to do, you need to believe them. We can no more vote for Obama than for George W. Bush. Both are anathema to us. Obama personifies everything we dislike about the party right now and how the party has been run. We don’t trust Obama and this is unlikely to change in the next two months.
After the election in November, we are not going away, especially if the powers that be do nothing to prevent the loss of Congress to the Republicans. The refusal to respect the voters is about to result in the greatest disgrace in the history of the party. The party has a responsibility to the citizens of the country to protect the common good. If it does nothing, it deserves all the derision and infamy that future generations will heap upon it.