DENVER – To save the Democratic Party and to save the country from another four years of the Republican machine, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in last night’s 20-plus minute speech at the Democratic National Convention did everything she could do to stitch up the tear in her party that was brutally ripped apart during her run for the Democratic nomination. Could Hillary really send the message that her supporters are now in the Obama camp and it’s time to bury the hatchet?
To thundering applause Mrs. Clinton took the podium before an audience in the Pepsi Center, of which only a little less than half were supporters of her campaign to become the first female president of the United States. It was her turn to unite her party and everything it stands for.
“Whether you voted for me or voted for Barack, it’s time to unite for a single purpose,” Clinton said with her unabashed powerful speaking authority. “It’s time to unite for a single purpose…Barack Obama is my candidate. And he needs to be our next President.”
Hillary’s task at hand to mend the divided party was in no way going to be an easy one. Several hours earlier on the delegate floor, I was witness to a large number of Hillary supporters who weren’t afraid to show that they were there for Hillary – no two ways about it.
“I am here to pledge my vote for Hillary,” said Marvin Wells, a young, African-American delegate from Washington State. “I like Hillary. I am not sold yet on Obama. I represent tens of thousands of people who support Hillary and I am here to voice their opinion. My vote is not for sale.”
Standing next to him, clad in a Hillary shirt with a large number of Support Hillary buttons, was 18-year-old Colton Crawford, a delegate from McCleary, Wash. He too is there to vote for Clinton.
“I am really excited that she is going to speak tonight but I am not sure she is getting everything she deserves,” Crawford said. “I don’t know if she will be able to bring everyone together as one.” Crawford, taking the same stance as the McCain campaign, said he is “not comfortable” with Obama’s lack of experience.
Hillary, later that evening at the podium, didn’t simply give support Obama lip service, she asked every one of those Democrats in the room to evaluate themselves. To figure out why they supported her – if they supported Hillary or the Democratic Party’s ideals for the future.
“Were you in it just for me?” She asked. To me, this was the nut of her speech. Why were all of us card-carrying Democrats gathered in Denver this week? Are we there to support a person or a party – this “family of Democrats. Hillary told us to support the party and for many, I think, it sunk in.
“Senator Obama is the strongest candidate in the race for the President,” said Jeremy Zellner, a delegate from Buffalo, N.Y. He wore a button displaying the message that he was for Hillary, but is now for Obama. “I really think that we will all be united.”
After Hillary brought down the house Tuesday night, there was a sense of resolve. The party was moving forward with a mended heart. What those of us have who where in Hillary’s camp since the beginning of her campaign were asked to do is check ourselves. Were we really in it for Hillary or for the party? Which comes first? We are forced to look at the bigger picture.
Not that I don’t think it’s noble and a part of the Democratic process to show up to the convention and vote for your beliefs. The bigger picture must be looked at though. The Republican machine is powerful enough. The blue party cannot afford to be divided any longer.
As Clinton put it last night: “We don’t need four more years of the last eight years.”
She’s goddamn right.