PUMAs are Democrats who supported Clinton but oppose Obama’s candidacy and wish to see him defeated. I have no idea how many true PUMAs there are. Certainly Republicans may be distorting or manipulating the online PUMA presence for their own ends. But I suspect there are a fair number, and I don’t think writing them off as nuts or cranks is very productive or helpful. If you want to learn more from a PUMA go here. It’s a blog I generally like a lot, even though I disagree with the PUMA approach, as I noted in comments here and here. And I profoundly disagree with some of the things written there about Obama. But I also feel like Dr. Socks and many of her commenters make a lot of legitimate points when they discuss the incredible sexism of so many of the Supposedly Liberal Doods running or supporting the Democratic Party. So go over and read Reclusive Leftist if you are interested. Below is a short excerpt from this post:
Most of us are lifelong Democrats, seasoned veterans of the political game. We know exactly what we’re doing. We’re making a high-stakes strategic bid to salvage the Democratic Party : or, failing that, to build a new coalition that will take up the mantle that the DNC seems determined to shed.
So why are we dismissed as hysterical angry women, so bitter at the defeat of Hillary that we’re ready to lash out in blind, confused rage and vote against our interests? Because of sexism. That’s how sexism works: it is the systematic devaluing of women and their actions. No matter that not all PUMAs are women; the movement is female-identified. And so we’re dismissed as hysterical old bats who can’t think straight.
I sympathize with the men in the PUMA movement who are experiencing this for the first time. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Read this fine post by myiq2xu, a mixed-chromosome PUMA. There’s a subtext in that essay, an unspoken air of frustration along the lines of,”why aren’t people taking me seriously?”Welcome to the world of women, myiq2xu. You could have the political intelligence of Bismarck and you’d still be dismissed as a hormone-addled cow on the rag.
At the other extreme, Amanda Marcotte has a post at Pandagon that is very critical of PUMAs. Amanda seems convinced that the PUMA movement is something phony that is being driven by Republicans. I think she’s probably mostly wrong about this, but this view is based on my own observations and intuitions, not on anything concrete.
One thing I am very sure of is that if Obama wants votes and donations from Clinton supporters, he needs to win them over in a positive, productive way. Insulting them will not lure them into the fold. Why would it? And if some Obama supporters would ramp down the creepy cultish behavior, many of us would be greatly relieved. For one example, read this article noting Obama’s disagreement with the Supreme Court’s decision in Patrick Kennedy v. Louisiana. It quotes Obama as saying:
“I think that the rape of small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime,” the Illinois senator said. “And if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that does not violate our Constitution.”
I was very disappointed by this, because I oppose the death penalty under any circumstances. Obama surely knows that the criminal justice system is far from perfect, meaning innocent people could be erroneously killed, and that the death penalty is applied in a racially discriminatory manner. I think he’s pandering on this issue, and I don’t like that very much. But it is nothing new for me to disagree with a fellow Democrat, and this will not dissuade me from voting for him. Yet I was seriously alarmed by the content and tone of the reader comments appended to this article, endorsing Obama’s words as if he was a deity, above all disagreement and criticism. Pretending any human being is perfection personified is weird, and it is very off putting.