Well, what's one of the Democratic Party's greatest strengths? Its appeal to women -- who make up more than half the electorate -- as the party that cares about their rights. The party's problem, of course, is that Clinton's candidacy exposed that for the expedient lie it is, since the party establishment allowed the blatant misogyny directed against Clinton by the media, Democratic lawmakers, the Obama campaign and the rank-and-file to go unchallenged. Then, when Obama was ushered into the nomination by a fishy decision by the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee that was contrary to the DNC's own rules, the party establishment finally spoke up, albeit weakly. But only for so long, because there was no time to pay attention to silly things like rooting out misogyny in the party that claims to care about women. Get in line and vote for the Chosen One, and keep your mouth shut and don't spoil the optics.
This did appear to be a fairly serious problem for the Dems; Obama was losing support among women and other groups with his lurch to the right. And instead of trying to bring those voters back into the fold with persuasion and carrots and addressing their concerns, the campaign, the party, the media and especially the fan base turned to threats, mockery, infantilization, accusations of racism, doomsaying and RoeRoeRoeRoeRoe when those voters started saying that gosh, love to vote for you, but you haven't given me any reason to and how dare you assume that I have nowhere else to go?
Now, there was never a real risk that progressives would vote for McCain en masse; those Hillary supporters who show up in polls as planning to vote for McCain may very well be Republican and Independent women who were voting for Clinton, not for the Democrats.
There has been, however, a real risk that progressives who are sick of the misogyny and sick about the direction the party was taking would sit this one out. And the Republicans were counting on that continuing.
And then a funny thing happened -- after a lot of tension about whether Clinton and her 18 million supporters would be shut out of the Convention, the Obama people agreed to give Hillary and Bill Clinton prime-time speaking slots. And they both spoke of unity, and urged Hillary's supporters to vote for Obama. And a lot of the Hillary diehards here watched those speeches and said they were convinced, they'd now vote for Obama. Others, too -- as Jack Goff said, it was what he'd been waiting for, though he hadn't known he'd been waiting for anything.
Obama's speech, too, convinced more people that Obama was not necessarily all style and no substance, that he understood the need to talk issues and the need to fight.
Then McCain -- who, it should be noted, was telling the press he had not selected a running mate as late as the final day of the Democratic National Convention -- dropped the Palin bombshell.*
Zuzu's excellent distillation of the primary dynamics helped crystallize a thought that has been rattling around my brain for a few weeks. The framing of this election cycle on the Left uses as an operating presumption that any fault or failure in the Democratic march to victory is to be laid at the feet of women voters, specifically female Clinton supporters. This is more than just IACF, though that is one of the cornerstones.
It is the presumption that we are an untrustworthy, disloyal, always in need of discipline part of the party. An internal enemy. A band of evil sisters just drooling over the chance to defect to the dark side, or else a bunch of brainless, shallow, vagina voters who just don't know what's in our own self-interest, poor mindless dears that we are.
We are threatened, bullied, lectured and warned that we had better not go vote for some hard-right cultural conservative. Any female public figure who it is imagined we might support is assailed in vile and sexist ways, always seeking to demean, humiliate and cut that bitch down to size. And it's not just the bully boyz at Cheetopia who are doing this, though they are the worst offenders. I've stopped going to TalkLeft after Jeralyn's offensively paternalistic lectures on how bad Palin is and don't we foolish HRC holdouts know what's good for us undermined whatever credibility she had as an Obama supporter trying to convince on-the-fence Clinton Democrats to grit their teeth and vote strategically. As if I am not a life-long Democrat and feminist who has never voted for a Republican.
Think about this. Did anyone ever hear Hillary criticize a single voter for declining to cast their vote for her? Did you hear her campaign do this? I can think of one person, Jim Carville, calling out one super delegate, Bill Richardson. I have heard Hillary say, with her typical humility, that she failed to get her message across and she was going to have to work harder at winning the voters' trust and support.
Hillary herself has been very publically lectured, buillied, warned, threatened, and harassed that she had better deliver her voters (And why is the image that I get in my brain when I read this stuff is of a bound, gagged and drugged female form being handed over for gang rape?) to Obama, or else she is ruined, done, over, disgraced, without a political future.
Treating half your base as presumptive enemies is not a good way to run a campaign. Just sayin'...