The following was written by Shawn Bagley, Central Coast for Hillary 2008, California Democratic Party Region 9 Director and Vinz Koller, Monterey County Democrats for Obama, Monterey County Democratic Party Chair. They asked me to post it here and I was happy to agree – it’s a wonderful model of how Democrats are united for the fall.
We had a deal, and now we’re honoring it. Way back when the presidential campaign was just getting started, Shawn decided Hillary Clinton was the best choice, and Vinz decided on Barack Obama. Each of us threw himself into organizing for his candidate, joining many other volunteers on the Central Coast in working with one of the national campaigns.
This meant that throughout the primaries we would be opponents – working for the success of one candidate inevitably meant working for the defeat of the other. But at the same time, we would be working closely together on the Monterey County Democratic Central Committee. Furthermore, we were friends.
What to do? Was it possible to be opponents and allies at the same time?
Absolutely it was. Early on, we came to an agreement, with these terms:
- By far the most important objective was to elect a Democrat for president. Especially at this point in US history, any other outcome was unthinkable.
- And so we agreed that throughout the primaries we would compete vigorously but never destructively.
- And when it was all over, whoever was the nominee would have our full and enthusiastic support.
That is where we are now. Barack Obama has won the nomination, and Shawn will put all his energy into getting him elected president. And if Hillary Clinton had won, Vinz would have done exactly the same thing.
This is not to say that it’s easy, because it isn’t. Shawn put his heart into the Hillary campaign, helping to organize thousands of volunteers into one of the most effective operations in the state, and even arranging for a visit to Salinas by the candidate herself. Watching Hillary concede, Shawn’s heart broke.
But as the candidates themselves have each said many times, in the end this is not about Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
It is about the future of our country. And it has seldom been more clear that the best future for our country is with a Democrat in the White House.
We are not the only two who have this deal. Friday evening, local Obama organizer Quinn Gardner drove with Shawn to Oakland to meet with the Northern California Obama campaign staff. They welcomed Shawn warmly, and he made the same promise to them that he had made to Vinz: he will do everything he can to help elect the nominee.
And, after all, it’s the same deal that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama made, and that they are now honoring: a vigorous competition, followed by unity.
Of course Shawn is deeply disappointed that his candidate didn’t win, just as Vinz would be. But while Hillary didn’t win, it would miss an important truth to say simply that she lost. Because no candidate who has mobilized as much support as Hillary has can really be said to have lost. Hillary’s supporters, in their millions, have made their voices heard. And so the influence of Hillary’s ideas and of Hillary’s supporters will live on in a unified general election campaign to elect Barack Obama President of the United States.
As Hillary said in her speech Saturday at the National Building Museum, “The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand, is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama the President of the United States.”
And as Barack said following that speech, “Senator Clinton… has inspired millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and her commitment to causes like universal health care that make a difference in the lives of hardworking Americans. Our party and our country are stronger because of the work she has done throughout her life, and I’m a better candidate for having had the privilege of competing with her.”
As we come together in unity, the competition has made us stronger. Locally and nationally, the Democratic Party is larger, more focused and more organized than ever before.
We are more likely than ever to win in November, so that starting on January 20, 2009, we can start putting this country back on the right course: the course of peace, prosperity, freedom and justice that we all believe in.
And that is the best deal for all of us.