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There's a difference, you know.

Supporters love their candidate.  They educate themselves about their candidate.  They learn about their candidate's policies, positions, background, voting record.  They work to get their candidate elected -- by voting, by calling, by donating money, by slapping that sign in the front yard and that sticker on their car.

"Supporters", on the other hand, are a little different.  They don't know much about their candidate, but that's because their candidate is irrelevant to them.

They hate the other candidate.  That's their motivation.  They trash the other candidate -- on TV, on blogs, at "rallies" and "protests."  They seek confrontation and do not care if their behavior reflects badly on their candidate, because they don't really care about their candidate to begin with.

On Saturday, at the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting to determine the fate of Florida and Michigan's delegates, a group of Clinton "supporters" reportedly caused quite a commotion.

They chanted.  They shouted.  They booed.

They also embraced the crazed rantings of Larry Sinclair, who describes himself on his website as follows:

Larry has been threaten with death as well has many other things since coming forward with his sexual and drug use encounters with Presidential Candidate Barack Obama.  Obama and his Chief Media advisor David Axelrod have engaged in a huge internet attack against Larry in hopes of keeping the truth about Obama from making out into the Main Stream Media which would make Obama have to respond and explain his lies.  That is something Obama does not wish to do.

Got that?  This man is alleging a drug-induced gay love affair with Obama.  I didn't believe it the first time I heard it -- before he failed a polygraph test.

This man has been completely discredited and deserves no attention from the media and certainly not from Clinton supporters.  

Clinton "supporters," on the other hand, have embraced his vile lies in a desperate attempt to smear Obama.  

They do not care about Clinton; they care about destroying Obama.  They are not supporters.  They are "supporters."

It is easy, sometimes, to confuse supporters and "supporters."  After all, they look alike.  Sometimes they even sound alike.  How is one to know the difference between the woman holding the Clinton sign (who supports Clinton) and the woman holding the Clinton sign (who opposes the other candidate at all costs)?

On the internet, it is even harder to know the difference.  An anonymous blogger with an anonymous name posts a comment about opposing Obama.  Is this person sincere?  Or is this person a Republican troll trying to create disharmony among Democrats?

What is important to remember, however, is that a candidate's support does not come primarily from "supporters."  These people lack the dedication and endurance that real supporters have.  They jump on a bandwagon when it's convenient, and they will fall off just as easily.

Meanwhile, they manage to discredit the real supporters and the candidate they claim to support.  

They are an embarrassment.  They are a shame.  

Now, let me make my guarantee to you:

I am a Clinton supporter.  That means I prefer Clinton.  I prefer her policies and positions.  I admire her strength.  I think she, more than any other candidate in the race, belongs in the White House next January.

But...

I denounce "supporters."  I do not believe it is necessary or effective to smear Obama.  I do not believe that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  I do not believe that Obama is my enemy, and I certainly do not believe that Larry Sinclair is in any way helpful to the cause of electing Clinton.

I am appalled by those "supporters" who say they will actively support McCain in November.  It's one thing to dislike the nominee and to write in a preferred candidate or vote for a third-party candidate whom you believe more closely represents your values.

But to work for the candidate who in no way shares your values -- and to do so out of spite and bitterness -- is a mistake.  It shows a lack of conviction and principles.  It harms your cause -- whatever your cause is.  

Yes, this is a democracy.  Yes, we are allowed to vote however we want.  Yes, I have serious concerns about the Democratic Party, and I am routinely embarrassed by Democratic leaders.  And I'm keeping a list of complaints and demands that I will deliver to my representatives in January, when we have control over the White House and Congress.

But...

I will vote for Obama in November if he is the Democratic nominee.  I may not like him much, but I will vote for him.  I'm a Democrat.  I know the stakes.  I know that Justice Ginsburg is holding on to her Supreme Court seat with every ounce of will she can muster until a Democrat sits in the Oval Office to appoint her replacement.  

(And I know that Sandra Day O'Connor fully expects the next president to appoint more women to the Supreme Court.  And I agree with her completely.)

So.  

Here's my point:

The primary season is almost over.  And tensions are still high, and the party is still divided.  It's easy to look at the supporters of the other candidate and think they're all the same.  They're all "supporters."  They're all filled with hate and vengeance.  They don't really care about democracy, or democratic values, or Democratic values.  They don't even care about their candidate.  

But it's important to remember that there's a difference.  Many of us -- most of us -- are supporters.  

And when this fight is over, we'll all be supporting Obama.

[Cross-posted at MyDD]

Originally posted to Kaili Joy Gray on Sat May 31, 2008 at 05:19 PM PDT.

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