People United Means Action and the 2016 Election

PUMA PAC: People United Means ActionGiven all this talk about PUMAs, I was interested to see that PUMA was an actual political action committee (PAC), People United Means Action. It was started by people in the “Party Unity, My Ass” movement. According to, they said, “We are protesting the 2008 Presidential Election because we refuse to support a nominee who was selected by the leadership rather than elected by the voters.” That sounds suspiciously like what Sanders supporters are saying today.

In 2008, I was a John Edwards supporter. The reason was the same as the reason that I’m a Sanders supporter today: because they both got a woman they weren’t married to pregnant during the campaign. Oh, I’m kidding! People tend to forget that Edwards had a great platform. It bothered me that of the three major candidates, I wasn’t supporting the black guy or the woman. But to some extent, I think it is easier (or perhaps necessary) for minority candidates at the nation level to be more conservative.

Agnostic in 2008

Once Edwards dropped down, I didn’t particularly care. I thought that both Obama and Clinton were good. But while fatuous people claim that Clinton and Trump are the same, Clinton and Obama really were pretty much the same. It’s funny that I hear a lot of people say that what Democratic voters really want is a third Obama term. Well, that is what I think Hillary Clinton will bring. And I expect to be about as happy with her as president as I have been with Obama. And that’s why I fine with her but not excited.

It’s funny, however, when the “Party Unity, My Ass” folk decided to create a PAC, they went for the backronym People United Means Action. (For those who don’t know: a backronym is an acronym that is created after the fact.) I don’t mean to suggest that they should have gone with “Party Unity, My Ass.” That wouldn’t have been taken seriously. But “People United Means Action” was clearly picked so that insiders could titter to themselves about what it really meant. In fact, on the PUMA About page, they are even explicit about it, “You may know that there is another, more defiant meaning for the acronym PUMA and that many of us are motivated by a deep disgust with and distrust of the DNC leadership.”

“People United Means Action” Was Angry

I understand the disgust. Clinton did win the most votes in the 2008 primary. And when you look at pleged delegates, Clinton was really close. But as Clinton supporters will tell you today: you play the game with the rules as they are. Obama ran a brilliant campaign, and had the contest been to get the most total votes, it’s hardly clear that he wouldn’t have managed to get that too. At it is, the difference was just a bit more than a quarter million votes (out of over 35 million) and roughly three-quarters of a percentage point.

So the fact that Clinton supporters were angry is no surprise. But People United Means Action didn’t really do anything. In the end, the Democratic Party was united. And that’s what I expect this year. I’m completely with Greg Sargent, Stop Freaking out, Democrats. The Party Will Unify. Probably. He highlights a statistic that you’ve probably heard: 28% of Sanders supporters claim that they will not vote for Clinton in November, But at this point in the race in 2008, 35% of Clinton supporters said the same thing about Obama.

Now, as those in the “kids these days” caucus, like Jonathan Chait, claim that Sanders supporters say the whole system is corrupt. If you are talking about the economic system, that is a difference. But as we saw back in 2008, People United Means Action were making this same claim about the party itself. Even without Sanders’ help, I suspect the Democratic Party will be fine. But I expect that Sanders will end up being a strong advocate for Clinton, just as she was for Obama.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

13 thoughts on “People United Means Action and the 2016 Election

  1. The reason was the same as the reason that I’m a Sanders supporter today: because they both got a woman they weren’t married to pregnant during the campaign.

    This made me laugh so hard and yet my family didn’t get it.

    I really really really hope you are right about Sanders. He keeps doing things that annoy me to no end like trying to get Barney Frank kicked off the Rules committee. Or Gov. Dan Mallory off Platform. Of course your group of Sanders and Clinton supporters are different then mine so they probably don’t even know about this.

    But since Trump is apparently broke:

    I don’t think any fit throwing is going to matter since Clinton is starting the general with a butt ton of money on hand.

    • That’s one thing about Trump: he hasn’t had a good campaign. I’m not surprised that he’s out of money. And since I don’t think he has nearly the money he claims, he can’t self-finance. I’m sure we’ll hear about how he has all this money but it isn’t liquid. But if we actually had $10, he would have no problem coming up with a billion or so to finance his campaign. It wouldn’t surprise me at all that his actually net worth is more like Mitt Romney’s. It’s still a lot of money, but it would mean that he’s actually lost huge amounts of money given the amount he inherited.

      • PS: I hope that about Sanders too. For one thing, I don’t want to regret supporting him all this time. I’ve always seen him as a liberal, not an uncompromising radical. And his career in the Senate indicates that he’s the latter. But hard fought elections don’t bring out the best in people.

      • He won because he is a known name, he had a lot of free publicity and he was open about how racist and sexist the Republican party is.

        Which works in a primary but doesn’t work in a general. Meanwhile this is Clinton’s what, fifth Presidential campaign? If anyone knows what to do, she and her team does.

        • I wonder how smart Trump was about the racism and sexism. I tend to think that he is just that way and it worked out for him. I don’t think he actually knew that this would work. But maybe. I have to admit that I’ve been surprised. I knew how bigoted the Republican base is, but at the same time, the dog whistles are as much for them as for the media. The base might be racist but they don’t see themselves as racist. But apparently, they can be quite explicit about their racism and still think they aren’t racist.

            • This is why it is dangerous to think of racism is such a simplistic way. I often find people claiming that they aren’t racists without a clue. These are the ones who think that entering a game of Monopoly halfway through is fair because you get $200 for passing Go, just like everyone else. So the Trump racists don’t think they are racists because they have “reasons” for their bigotry.

      • I’ve heard people who find the man loathsome say “but he is a good businessman.” As if that’s something to admire! But even so . . . He isn’t.

        • It goes back to what I talk about all the time: people decide than then justify. They just like Trump. And I get that. I see his charisma. And the idea that government would be better if it acted like a business is one of the biggest myths in American politics.

          One thing is for sure: Trump isn’t that smart. But then Bush Jr wasn’t that smart; Reagan wasn’t that smart; Nixon wasn’t that smart. Republicans don’t value being smart.

          • It’s an amazing myth. I suspect its longetivity has to do with the death of unions. No mine or auto worker would agree that business is effective at running anything. It’s mind-boggling that anyone thinks this; people have run-ins with businesses all the time and government quite rarely. But that’s uncountered propaganda for you.

            • People have been told so long that capitalism works because of efficiency that they just don’t know any better. The way a free market is supposed to work is that bad companies go out of business. But now we have businesses that just distort the political environment and survive that way. But when Mitt Romney gloats about avoiding taxes, people don’t see that this is what he’s talking about.

  2. I supported Edwards before we knew what an idiot he was, myself. Just because of his health-care policy platform. Obama’s was exactly the Romney plan. Clinton’s was a little vaguer, so after Edwards stumbled over his schlong, I preferred Clinton. Health insurance is sort of my single-issue issue. This may have been a little apparent on occasion.

    • As I recall, it was the opposite. Clinton had the Romney plan and Obama was saying he would not support the individual mandate. He change, though. And rightly so! I don’t see how it all works without that. HillaryCare was much better. It’s funny to look back because we were all so naive. We thought things could get done in Washington, but the Republicans had totally changed the way things worked.

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