Do you remember 2007 into 2008 primaries? The African American contender for the Presidency of the United States against the woman contending for the same office? Both the first the have a REAL, CONCRETE shot at actually winning the presidency rather than running a symbolic race?
Passions were high, understandably so. And it wasn't just the symbolic aspects of that campaign that captured the candidates supporters imagination. Both candidates had specific ideas and policies that each side thought would benefit the country.
I'd like to tell a story, if I may, about that primary. But what's funny about that primary is, for me, it wasn't about what happened in the summer of 2008. It was all about what would happen on January 20, 2009.
Come on below and I'll tell you about it.
In early 2007 I had contacted the Dallas (Texas) County Democratic Party looking to get involved. Turned out that my voting precinct, like a lot of local precincts at the time, had no precinct chair. So with that and a meeting/training I was a precinct chair.
I learned quickly that my precinct may not have had a chair but it had a Hillary captain and an Obama captain (apparently both had their sights on precinct chair but I naively beat them to it). And both of them agreed on one thing: the other was wrong. Rachel, my Hillary captain, and John, my Obama captain, had already determined that each other was actively trying to disenfranchise their candidates supporters.
The solution was clear: good Tex-mex food, margaritas and cervezas! I coaxed, badgered and harassed Rachel and John till they agreed to meet with me at a restaurant just outside our neighborhood. I forbid politics and insisted we just chat until the meal was over. Turns out that Rachel and John are both neat people with similar concerns. Rachel was older and retired; John was young, professional and had a cute daughter. John was black and Rachel white. They both spoke about how important it was to them to have a candidate that resembled them, understood where they were coming from to represent them.
Then I put my proposition to them - you two are going to be opponents until the summer I said. But when we have a nominee, it's over. And I will need your help from there to November - will you join me. Both said yes (thank FSM).
From there on out we met about once a month. They would not share their campaign's information with me, which I understood. However, I would share whatever data I got from the county party with BOTH of them. Rachel volunteered to do a precinct newsletter. John agreed to contribute Obama information to that newsletter.
By primary night, we were all friends. We respected each other. So, when, for the first time in my precinct's known history, the Democratic turnout was 330 and the Republican turnout was about 25 for the precinct convention, we were prepared. Obama won our precinct by about 40 votes. I made sure to talk with Rachel - was everything fair? Did her needs get addressed? Rachel was not happy with the result, but she was satisfied with the process.
The result of this strategy was this: in the general election I had the help and assistance of almost all the Hillary supporters all through the process. John wound up taking all these Hillary supporters under the Obama umbrella. We increased my precinct's turnout in the general by a huge amount.
What I am trying to tell you, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters is this:
What happens in the primaries is important and it matters. But it is just the opening chapter of the book. It's not not the book itself. Don't make the mistake of thinking it is. Everything you do today and tomorrow and the day after is all aimed at one date: JANUARY 20TH, 2017. Your goal is to make sure your candidate is standing there, hand in the air, taking the oath of office. In the end that is all that matters. If you don't get to that point then none of your candidate's great policies and ideas stand a chance of being enacted.
And here is the catch: To get to January 20th, 2017, you and your chosen candidate need every single voter for your primary opponent you can get. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
Bernie Sanders cannot become President without Hillary Clinton voters. It is simply impossible. If you think he can win over enough non voters to render Hillary Clinton voters unnecessary, I want you to share what you are smoking. It's fantasy. It will not work.
Hillary Clinton cannot become President without the Bernie Sanders supporters. I think she has a better path forward than Bernie does without his supporters, but I think it will fall short. She will need his grassroots energy transferred to her campaign.
Guys, we NEED each other. In order for either to succeed, they must have the others supporters in the general. Disrespecting each other is short sighted and pointless.
Fight for your candidate. Do it passionately. Be bold, be strong. But be smart. You can't do it by yourself. Campaigns are about bringing people in, not driving them away. Think about it.
Any time you alienate or drive away a primary opponent's supporters, you harm your candidate. That is the bottom line.
So my recommendation to Bernie supporters? Take some Hillary supporters to lunch. You might make some friends. Same for you Hillary supporters - give a Bernie supporter a hug. It feels good and it brings us together.
10:05 AM PT: Wow. Two Rec Listed diaries in two days. A guy could get used to this attention!
On a more serious note, gives me hope that things can get better around here.