Supporting the Nominee

(Thanks to lorih for her reflection on a topic that's been on my mind lately. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

I used to be a psychologist, and one of the things that I would often tell my clients is that the relationship between feelings and actions isn't one way. People who are depressed tend to isolate themselves even to the point of staying in bed all day. However, if they force themselves to get out of the house, even though they don't “feel like it,” they often start to feel a little less depressed. Sometimes the feelings come first, “I felt depressed, so I stayed in bed.” Other times the feelings come second, “I went for a walk, and I now I better.”

I started to work for the Obama campaign even though I didn't like him much. I did this for several reasons. First, because Hillary asked me to. One thing she said in her concession speech was, “Are you doing this just for me?” This isn't about one candidate, it is about improving our country. I want to get as many democrats in office as possible.  Second, I wanted to work with the Obama campaign to try coordinate our efforts to get Becky Greenwald elected. I traded my services for Obama for their services for Becky.  Finally, I didn't want to be a cry baby like I have seen a few William Meyers supporters, and some Hillary supporters be. I find it absolutely silly, that anyone would support a candidate like McCain or Latham just because the democrat that they wanted didn't win. 

None of these reasons had anything to do with me “liking” Barack. I didn't. But you know what? When I started campaigning for him, I started having to come up with some reason besides “he's a democrat” to support him. And I started to find some reasons. One of the big ones that I tell people is that amazing speaking ability that I once disdained as “just words” could be really useful in a diplomatic situation. And think how much cheaper that is than another war. Also, that “elitist thing” that people say about him–maybe he comes across that way because he is so intelligent. And right now what our country needs is an intelligent president. I don't want someone “just like me” in office. I want someone a whole lot smarter than me in office.

After awhile, just like I used to tell my clients, my feelings followed my actions. And now–I have to admit–I like Barack. I like him a lot. He might not have been my first choice, but he is my choice now. I'm not “holding my nose” and voting for him. I'm voting for him because I like him. That isn't to say I regret the choice I made in the primary. I don't. I like and admire Hillary Clinton now more than ever. However, just like she said in her concession speech:

“So I want to say to my supporters, when you hear people saying – or think to yourself – 'if only' or 'what if,' I say, 'please don't go there.' Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward. Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be. And that is why I will work my heart out to make sure that Senator Obama is our next President and I hope and pray that all of you will join me in that effort.”

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  • great diary

    I have noticed that even after a tough primary, most supporters of the losing candidate become more favorably inclined toward the nominee by the time the general election rolls around.

    It helps that Obama currently appears heavily favored to beat McCain. If Obama were losing, I think there would be more feelings of hostility towards him among Democrats who didn’t like him during the primaries.

    I like the way you frame this in terms of your feelings following your actions.

    For me, it was therapeutic to write this diary on how to talk to non-supporters about Obama. I started working on it in late March and didn’t publish it until June. Whenever I got into a pointless argument with an Obama supporter, I tried to channel my feelings into thinking about why I was so annoyed and what the Obama supporter could have said that would have been less irritating. I was revising the draft of that diary several times each week.

  • "From the beginning" vs. "convert"

    I’ve noticed too, that “converts” to Senator Obama are more able to bridge the gap between those who have always liked and supported him and those who who have not.  

    Also, converts seem less drawn in to the starry-eyed, dreamy Elvis-i-ness of Obama, in favor of more concrete, tangible aspects of the Senator that make for far more effective talking points when canvasing with Republicans or Independents.  

  • Rational vs. irrational

    It’s interesting to contrast yr “change in perception” (is that a fair description?) with the kind of responses we’ve been hearing about/seeing footage of from the hardcore Republican base who really, really don’t want to follow Sen. McCain’s new tactic of engaging his opponent “respectfully”. For them, their primary feeling is a potent stew of fear, anger & resentment towards Sen. Obama and they have no intention of letting anything “objective” get between them and their feelings. They “see” something in Barack that I certainly don’t see (and I’m not sure how much is color – a lot, for sure, but they’d be going looneytunes if Sen. Clinton was the candidate), and the fact that what they see is delusional means they’re not going to be won over by rational methods. That poor woman at the McCain rally who said she was scared because he’s an “Arab terrorist” is not going to be convinced that he really was just a geeky, hoops player from Hawaii.

    • but they are similar in the sense

      that they are now strong supporters of McCain, even though I’ll bet that during the GOP primaries he wasn’t the first choice of even 10 percent of the people who currently attend his rallies.

    • I think that the media is blowing it all out of proportion.

      I have attended a McCain rally here in Iowa. The one in Cedar Rapids to be more exact. I didn’t see any of the extreme hatred there. I think that it is being blown all out of proportion. It is just like during the primaries some Obama supporters were threatening to riot if Obama didn’t win the nomination. I think these are a fringe few and they are the ones that draw the attention of the media.  

  • I have to get in on this discussion

    I was a Huckabee supporter during the caucus. I haven’t really warmed to McCain. As I stated in another post. I don’t like him, and I don’t like obama either. And no color has nothing to do with it. In fact the only person that I know that won’t vote for him is a Democrat. Go figure. Anyhow, I don’t like the policies of either candidate and I don’t think that either of them are being particularly truthful when it comes to the policies they are claiming to support. I am seriously considering a third party candidate because when it comes to my vote I want to be able to sleep at night.

    • conservatives

      I can see many reasons that a conservative wouldn’t want to vote for Obama other than his race. I believe that most people who are voting against Obama aren’t racist. I have more problems with people who supported Hillary or Edwards who say they won’t support Obama now because there aren’t that many differences in the policies of the three of them. In fact, I ran across a Biden supporter who is now saying that he isn’t sure that he is going to vote for Obama. I have a whole lot of trouble thinking that is anything other than race. He hated Hillary too, so he wasn’t going to be happy no matter what.

      I am curious though–which third party candidate are you thinking about supporting?  

      • Not real sure.

        It was just recently that I have come to the realization that if I were to vote for McCain my conscious would bother me. I have to do what I think is right for the country. There are only two candidates that are left that I would even look at. Barr and Baldwin. Both have some good positions. They are almost identical in most respects. I need to do a little more research to see who best represents my values and convictions.

        • third-party voting

          becomes easier when you are fairly sure that your party’s nominee is going to win without your vote, or is not going to win the election (at least not in your state) even with your vote.

          I was not old enough to vote in 1980, but my two brothers who were voted for Barry Commoner (Libertarian) and John Anderson (moderate Republican turned Independent). They are Democrats, and I suspect they would have held their noses and voted for Jimmy Carter if they thought it would be close enough for their votes to make a difference.

          I have hardly ever voted for a third-party candidate. The only example that comes to mind right away is when I voted for Brian Depew (Green) for secretary of agriculture in 2002. I had voted for Patty Judge in 1998 and been disappointed in her.