The Democratic National Convention wrapped up this week with, apparently, a cohesive party ready to tangle with John McCain and the Republican Party in the final months of the presidential campaign.
Much was made of the frosty relationship between Democratic candidate Barack Obama and the Clintons, Bill and Hillary, who dueled Obama to the final primary for the nomination. Hillary was the sure-thing nominee earlier this year, and it couldn't have been easy for such a super-competitive person to accept her defeat. Speeches hinting at and, finally, announcing the end of her bid for the White House early this summer were tinged with words that made it clear she was not happy about her plight or the prospect of backing Obama. Her husband, the former president, had an even harder time swallowing the disappointment, and he'd shown only tepid support for the candidate who was not his wife until his rousing Wednesday night convention speech.
But judging by the Clintons' convention speeches, they seemed to have made peace with their egos, their hurt feelings and the Obama camp for the good of their party.
The same can't be said of some of Hillary Clinton's supporters. They continue to act like petulant children, vowing that if Hillary can't have the nomination, Obama can't have their vote. Some visit Obama rallies, replete in garb proclaiming their support for Hillary and sporting "Nobama" buttons, and boo at each mention of his name. Some have even gone so far as to appear in campaign advertisements supporting McCain.
This isn't an endorsement of Obama. It is a rebuke of the "my way or the highway," "I'm taking my ball and going home" thinking that has crippled this country in recent years. And for all their complaining about it, some Democrats are showing they're not above it.
For diehards in any political party, it's certainly hard to give your heart -- and most likely a good sum of money -- to a candidate and a cause and then have those hopes dashed. And it's certainly true that this year's Democratic primary battle was an emotional one rarely waged in the modern political arena. An eyelash separated both Obama and Clinton for months, as each primary seemed to bring an ebb for one and a flow for the other, only to reverse itself in the next contest.
That's what made Clinton's defeat so crushing. Her supporters saw that it was so close for her and that she had everything seemingly in place to make her dream reality. That's a markedly different mindset than that of, say, even the most ardent Dennis Kucinich supporter, who almost from the very start could grasp the reality that hard work and unwavering belief in the candidate probably won't be rewarded, in the traditional sense.
Many of the turncoat Hillary supporters base their disaffection on how she was purportedly "treated" during her campaign. Sexism was allegedly at work in the Obama camp and in the media supportive of his candidacy. Clinton acknowledged that sexism is still a substantial hurdle for herself and other women in this country, and knocking over that obstacle will remain a noble goal that can't be abandoned, regardless her political fate. But she couldn't have been surprised that the subject would surface in the rough-and-tumble world of presidential politics, especially as the first woman running for the highest office in the land. As a pioneer, she must have known what was coming, and her supporters shouldn't have let abject loyalty blind them to that fact, either. If the opposition will Swift Boat a war hero for political gain, they'll sling poisoned arrows based on gender stereotypes.
Those who can't see past that and vow to hold their breath until they get their way need to get over themselves.