Friday, February 15, 2008

Florida and Michigan-suck it up.

I've been hearing a lot of conversations regarding whether Michigan and Florida should have 'do-overs' regarding their primaries. The answer is simple: No, they should not.

There is overheated rhetoric that democrats in these states will be "disenfranchised" if their votes are not allowed to count toward the delegate totals for either Obama or Clinton. This argument is ridiculous for several reasons.

First, those states moved their primaries up because they felt that, as has happened in the past, states with later primaries are no longer relevant in the process. Did the Michigan or Florida democratic parties care about the disenfranchisement of voters from those states? Are die-hard John Edwards voters "disenfranchised" because he's no longer on their ballots thanks to early primaries?

Second, and more importantly, the nominating process of any political party is up to that party. If the democratic party wanted to nominate its candidate by choosing the person who could stand on their head the longest they'd have every right to do that. Primaries are only about one hundred years old. Caucuses are much older. The parties themselves used to come together to choose their most viable candidate. Political parties themselves were disdained by our founding fathers. In Wisconsin we have open primaries and you can register to vote on voting day. Really, if you consider the intent of primaries, Wisconsin's system is a little crazy, too. Republicans are able, since McCain has all but tied up the republican nomination, to vote for Hillary here - a wise move on their part since polls show she could lose to McCain in the general election, but Obama would win handily.

In Florida, the state legislature determined that it wanted an earlier primary. Some, like Air America commentator Randi Rhodes, believe that it's not fair then to punish Florida voters by not counting their delegates. Florida's legislature enjoys a strong republican majority. Imagine a scenario where a legislature is really far-right wing. In a move akin to gerrymandering, that legislature could wreak havoc with the democratic party by imposing an election day that the party disagrees with. This year in Florida the democratic party was compliant, but it begs the question: what if they were not? State legislatures really should not have any right to formulate party business.

The fact of the matter is that Michigan and Florida broke with the national democratic party and were sanctioned for it. Of course, their delegates should be seated at the convention, they are needed there to vote on the platform and attend to other party business. But as far as apportioning the delegates, they either should not be apportioned or their numbers should be split 50/50 and given to Obama and Clinton evenly.

Hillary Clinton does not want a "do-over", and I agree that there shouldn't be one. She should, however, recognize that she was wrong to have her name on the ballot in Michigan. She should not try to get Michigan or Florida delegates seated in her column. If Obama leads her in the popular vote but holds a narrow lead in voted delegates, she should back off a strategy of asking for the super delegates to throw their weight behind her.

Hillary Clinton, and the dem parties of Michigan and Florida seem determined to act in their own self-interest before the interests of the nation as a whole. I'd hate to see them profit from that attitude.


Joe said...

"Hillary Clinton does not want a "do-over", and I agree that there shouldn't be one. She should, however, recognize that she was wrong to have her name on the ballot in Michigan."

Oh, she'll "recognize" it all right, at the same time she's got teams of lawyers fighting to get those delegates seated.

I can't believe the Florida Democrats allowed themselves to be pushed into this position.

Dr. Zaius said...

Hear, hear! What a great post!

The Cunning Runt said...

Well said, thoughtfully reasoned.

But I still believe the American people ought to be choosing our candidates, not a select group of "more important" Rich White Guys.

The whole concept of "super delegates" unattached to the wishes of The People is, um, undemocratic.

Jess Wundrun said...

bubs She's seems to have given herself a bad case of Hobson's Choice if she goes ahead and fights with the lawyers. Dems won't like it. I for one, would not vote for her if she gets the nomination through legal wrangling. I would vote for her if she wins fair and square

dr. z thank you.

cunning runt I don't disagree with you, mostly I'm just discussing how things are as opposed to how they are perceived. This primary season has been pretty great in that the well-heeled candidates and the corporate-media blessed candidates (Thompson, Romney, Giuliani) got trounced. Edwards, however, is a whole 'nother story.

BAC said...

Haven't Fla voters been disenfranchised enough? All the candidates names were on the ballot, and before the primary Obama ran national ads that played in Fla (which could be seen as a violation of the candidates agreement not to campaign there). Let's seat the delegates in Fla AND MI. We know the delegate count in Fla -- in MI, give Clinton all the delegates who voted for her, a give Obama all the "uncommitted" delegates. THAT seems fair to me.

And about the superdelegates, it is looking more and more like they will make the decision, since neither candidate is likely to get enough votes on their own to get to the 2025 delegate count.

Again, since this is the Democratic primary, if you look at the votes of registered Democrats Hillary Clinton wins.

It is highly unlikely that either Dem candidate will get Republican votes in a general election, and I think the independent vote will go either Dem or Repulican depending on whether they are left or right leaning. Independents have been McCain's base for the most part. There is no reason to believe they will desert him for either Obama or Clinton.


Mauigirl said...

I agree they should not change the rules now and count Florida and Michigan. It isn't fair that Hillary left her name on the ballot in Michigan and Obama didn't. Sure, 40% voted for "uncommitted" but some may not have understood that this was like voting for Obama.

I don't think there should be a "do-over" either, because the votes might skew differently this much later in the race. And that wouldn't be fair either.

The whole thing is stupid if you ask me; why should it matter when the state has its primary? Shouldn't it be up to them?

Distributorcap said...

florida and michigan KNEW they would not count before they voted -- end of story -- there are no mulligans, no second chances --- and hillary is ONLY crying now because she needs them --- if she was way ahead she would abide by all the rules set forth and signed by the candidates -- as for Obama buying national ads --- hillary had that option and that is NOT the same as buying florida alone.

hillary is a big whiner right now and acting with such desparation it is almost laughable --- however her game playing will ultimately destroy any chance of the dems have of winning in November

as for open primaries -- that is a whole other story

as always, right on

dguzman said...

These states that are moving their primaries up so they'll "count"--as Dcap says, they knew all about the delegates thing before they started, so tough luck for them. The whole system is so effed up at this point, it's hard to know what to do.

Anonymous said...

Mulligans are rules for golf, not voting.

If votes of 2000 counted then, they should count now in 2008.