I had a chance to interview a former Hillary supporter named "M. Stoey", who is not supporting Obama. My hope is this will provide some insight into the phenomenon of Hillary supporters who aren't sticking with the Dem nominee ...
Am I correct that you have been a Democrat for years, were a huge Clinton fan, and are now supporting McCain?
Yes, I had been a Democrat since 1992 when in 2004 I changed my party affiliation to Independent after what I viewed was a disappointing choice of Kerry for President. Bill Clinton was the first presidential candidate I supported and I have continued to support them through the years. Right now I intend to vote for Nader but I think that McCain is a fine person and certainly qualified to be President of the United States .
What was wrong with Kerry? I’m just trying to get a feel for whether this is a real failing of Obama’s – or if there is simply a contingent of Clinton fans who won’t be happy with any Democrat with another last name?
The problem really is with the philosophy of what I call the "post-Clinton" Democratic party which pays more attention to polls then actually standing for what they believe in. There is an air of disingenuousness about them and is why I believe some voters have issues with the party. It's as if they forgot everything they learned from Clinton . With Kerry, and as in the case of Obama also, their selection was influenced by poll numbers rather than substance and ability. In both cases when there was a field of well qualified candidates they chose the candidate that polled the best. We saw that again in this years primary. Countless Democrats would say how much they liked Edwards but "he can't win." In the case of Kerry I felt he lacked passion and backbone. He failed to defend himself and strike back. While Obama is doing better at this he still lacks passion and fails to connect with voters in the way that Bill Clinton did.
That’s interesting, inasmuch as that Bill Clinton was criticized for being poll-driven. Would you say that you were more a fan of the Clintons style than policy ideas?
I saw Hillary as a chance to return the party to what it once was. In the last four years I had become disenchanted with Democrats but I was willing to return if they chose Hillary.
Do you think you are unique, or do you think you represent a larger constituency?[# More #]
I think that as far as voters who feel disenchanted with both parties I am the norm. But most people tend to fall in line with one party or the other, eventually. They feel it is acceptable to chose the best of two evils. I'm not willing to do that anymore. I want to support a candidate because I believe in them, their ideas and their abilities not just because they belong to a particular party. I know quite a few people who feel the way I do and I think that number is growing because of the last eight years, the do-nothing Congress we've had the last two years, and the selection of Obama. They view these two parties as so similar they are thirsty for something different.Would you be upset if your vote (or non-vote) helped elect McCain?
In contrast to myself, I do know some Clinton supporters who are voting for McCain just to punish the Democratic party. While I'm not one of them, I understand why they are doing it and how they can rationalize it. They feel that most likely Democrats will win a majority of Congress so to have McCain as President to balance that effect is not such a bad idea. I think other voters may be coming around to that idea as well.
Actually I felt that Hillary was close to McCain in some respects also. So you could look at it both ways. I would feel fine if McCain was elected. Contrary to what Dems want me to believe, I don't necessarily feel that McCain is a continuation of Bush. McCain has a reputation for being an independent thinker and for working across the aisle. I won't be blackmailed into toeing the party line and voting for someone I don't feel confident in, just because I may wind up with a Republican. The Dems have used that argument every election cycle and if voters continue to fall for it we'll never have anything other than a two party system. If the party is not willing to change then we must create the change.
What could Obama do to change your mind?
I don't feel there is anything he could do or say short of putting Hillary on the ticket that would make me vote for him. Hillary was the strongest advocate for nationalized health care and I'm absolutely convinced that she would have made it happen or at least some semblance of it would have materialized. Since June 3rd Obama has barely uttered a word about health care. Hillary had the experience, the knowledge, the will and the gravitas to get it done. As far as I'm concerned Obama does not have the record to qualify him for president so I lack confidence that he can get anything done. He naively claims that he will change Washington yet we have no evidence that he has the capability. My feeling is that he knows this rhetoric is a winning strategy which is why he uses it. And as we've seen and heard over the last 3 months I don't think Obama knows what he stands for. He keeps changing his positions which makes voters like me very nervous. We have so many problems facing our country now we don't need a incompetent president.
My opinion is that as long as we continue to vote for the lesser of the two evils instead of demanding something different, Washington will never change. My intention is to vote for Nader.
Update: (I thought of another question to ask her ...)
... What if McCain picks a female VP?A woman on the McCain ticket would make it very appealing and hard to resist. I think it would be a very smart thing for McCain to consider. At the end of the day though, I still have those fundamental beliefs that would keep me from voting for the ticket but I know some women who might be persuaded.What I think has happened to the Democratic party in this election which I find so unappealing is their hard move to the left...the far left. I think some members of the party are so blinded by their visceral hate for the Bush administration that they went to the extremes in nominating Obama. They saw what they thought was a great opportunity to take advantage of negative sentiment and at the same time endorse a history changing candidate. They banked on this as a win-win situation. But in their enthusiasm they have neglected the centrist Democrats like me and blue-collar workers who Bill Clinton championed and Hillary appealed to.