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Hillary Supporters Feel Scorned


It’s early evening at the convention center and groupies are gearing up, literally, for Hillary’s Big Speech. Green-shirted volunteers carry large boxes of long, rectangular Hillary signs stapled on cardboard tubes into the tunnels leading to the convention floor. Bundles of miniature American flags are undone. Partisan patriotism is locked and loaded.

The Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters are a passionate bunch and they fell head over heels for their candidate. Hopes and dreams were spoken of, imagined and internalized, like that of a first love. But when their girl didn’t turn out to really be the one—despite being crowned “inevitable” by the punditocracy—and the party dumped her for the new guy, heartbreak turned to bitterness and contempt, anger and vitriol. Couches, clothes, CDs and stereo systems flew out the window of the now-broken home.

That was back in June when, after the final primary had been held, it was certain that Clinton would not and could not overtake Barack Obama and win the love of the party and a majority of its delegates to secure the party nomination. In her concession speech, she danced around the issue of unmitigated support for Obama and only “suspended” her campaign (presumably so she could continue to raise money to help retire her several million dollar debt).

Fast forward to her speech Tuesday night. She spoke about unity of party and the greater good. But for the scorned among them, there was nothing she could say to make amends, heal the wounds of loss, provide closure and help her faithful supporters move on and get behind Obama. Closure remained elusive.

So at a Clinton delegate reception Wednesday morning at the Colorado Convention Center, Clinton addressed her supporters, including pledged delegates, delegates at large and super-delegates. Away from the prime-time media spotlight and after receiving a rock star reception from the more than 2,000 supporters who had packed the room, Clinton made it final: “I’m here today to release you as my delegates.”

The news was sobering, the affair was over. Regardless of their lingering passions and loyalty, Clinton’s delegates had been officially dumped, hung up on, the door slammed in their face. The need for closure had been met.

Most, though disappointed in the outcome, accepted the fact with grace and dignity. “I chose to be pledged to Hillary fairly early on in February,” says Phoebe Crane, a super delegate from Indiana who attended Clinton’s reception. “I remained committed to her until just recently. It’s hard to let go, but it falls on the winner to be gracious. But it’s time to come together and move on.”

Then there are the delegates who feel scorned and cheated and who, out of spite, would rather shack up a Republican. Granted those are the inconsolable few who threaten to vote for McCain, but they have given the conflict-obsessed traditional media fodder and enough push to keep the bogus, spit-in-your-face storyline alive.

“I’m enthusiastic about the policies of the Democratic Party and I’m going to vote Democrat,” says a decidedly unenthusiastic Dawn Yingling, a pledged Clinton delegate from Indiana whose bitterness doesn’t hide well. “It’s too late for a ‘gesture’ from the Obama people.”

And that’s the rub here. It’s not that they were dumped, but how they were dumped from the nomination that the remaining bitter Clintonites use for fuel for their lingering resentment. Flowers, chocolates and maybe a foot rub to go with the news might sound good, but truth be told, there is no consoling the angry ones.

The disappointed ones are a different story and represent a fairly large percentage of the whole. Like the permanently miffed, the winsomely disappointed have vowed to move on, but say that doing so would be so much easier and satisfying if only there were some conciliatory gestures from the Obama camp.

“Barack needs to say to his supporters that she (Clinton) has done enough; she’s done a great job backing me,” says Heather Smulyan, an Indiana Clinton delegate at large. “Hillary has done everything possible to say ‘I’m behind Obama.’ (Obama’s supporters) make it look like we’re the problem because we haven’t embraced them, but they haven’t embraced us.”

And while the sour taste won’t soon be brushed from this mouth, the Clinton camp does have a point. In an email today from Jon Carson, Obama’s National Field Director, the opening paragraph is missing something….

“This has been a convention of extraordinary moments. Ted Kennedy passing the torch to a new generation. Michelle Obama moving the crowd to tears. And tonight, Joe Biden will give the biggest speech of his life,” Carson wrote. Failing to mention Hillary just adds vinegar to the lingering bitterness. And it begs the question of who will blink and when or if the bitterness subsides as the dart-riddled image of Obama will no longer stay on the dartboard.

— James Burrus, Yellow Scene Magazine

More DNC coverage here.

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