The events leading up to and around the Florida and Michigan delegate debacle have proved just how disorganized, dysfunctional, and fractured the Democratic National Party is. Often people are amazed to learn I am a conservative. Born in San Francisco, Native American, long hair, well read and educated at a liberal college but despite all this I can not agree with a vast majority of the things I see and hear coming out of the DNC and the party faithful mouth’s.
Last summer there was speculation and talk of states challenging Iowa’s symbolic stance of kicking off the presidential campaign run by holding primaries ahead of the Feb 5, 2008 date set by the DNC by-laws and rules committee. Only the traditional and historically early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada were authorized to have primaries/caucuses before February 5th, Michigan’s Democratic party defied the rules and pushed for and got a Jan 15th primary, Florida’s Democratic Party did not offer strong opposition or resistance to the Republican held state legislature from holding a Jan 29 vote that the primaries would be attached to. Both states were warned in advance, both agreed, and all Democratic candidates signed pledges to not attend political rallies, air commercials, or campaign in either state, they could hold and attend fund raisers and non public appearance events. In Michigan only 4 names were on the ballot, Hillary Clinton being the only real nationally recognized one. Barak Obama ran a commercial in Florida on CNN during prime time but the ad was not targeted specifically to Florida residence.
I have read the DNC rules, article 20, section C and it clearly states the consequences for holding an early voting process. Please see the rules here, Page 24/27. How is it the Republicans were able to work out a deal, seating ½ their delegates and taking care of the issues before the election was held and the Democrats still have not fully resolved this? Leadership, or the lack thereof. Howard Dean, the DNC chairman, is leading a party after his failed presidential campaign fell apart due to money mismanagement, public meltdowns, and speculation on who was running the show and now he is telling everyone else what to do? Where there is smoke there is usually fire. Despite violating the rules, agreeing to the consequences, and holding the vote anyway Florida is again looking like a fool on the national stage. Michigan is quietly working things through and making deals to get as many delegates to count as they can despite the lopsided ticket people voted on.
Here is my problem. Florida is crying foul and disenfranchisement. You can’t have it both ways. I have read people saying they did not know the Florida vote would not count. Were you living under a rock on the moon? I live in China, where my access to information is limited at best and I knew since December! I have read people crying disenfranchisement because their votes will not count and this is America and how can this be? Simple, you have no clue what you are talking about. Primaries are not elections, they are nominations, which are run by private organizations (political parties), and your voting rites are observed under federal law for elections and elections only, thus your selection for a Democratic nominee is not governed by the federal government but by the organization who is sponsoring, running, and using the process. You can only blame your state party officials for not serving your best interests, end of story.
Putting all this aside we are left with a huge rift that threatens to fracture the Democratic party to the point of fertile ground for a third party to be born. There is talk on the bulletin boards and blogs of people stating they will vote Republican in the general election out of protest and disgust. I see this as a mediocre threat used to just get the DNC to renege on its ruling and let the spoiled brat get dessert after not eating dinner. As much animosity as the GOP has generated over the past 8 years I see it impossible enough liberals will defect to elect McCain in November, however there is a lot of in-fighting going on and getting worse within the part as well.
Due to the nearly impossible momentum needed to edge one candidate out over the other, barring a Garry Heart or Mike Dukakis type media firestorm, this is going to go down to the wire. I am talking about math. For those outside of Florida, who are not living under rocks on the moon, you know the magic number to be nominated by the DNC is 2,025. This number is MINUS Florida’s 210 and Michigan’s 156 delegates. I was unsure of this at first so I will be a little forgiving of those who did not know. Obama has the lead with 1,400, Clinton has 1,251, and Edwards is holding onto his 26. This is a 149 margin. In Michigan Clinton got 55% of the vote, 40% were uncommitted due to lack of names on the ballots and the rest got 5% combined. In Florida Clinton got 50%, Obama 33%, and Edwards 14%, if all Edwards voters went to Obama then he would have 47%, only 4 names on the ballot here. With 1 large primary in April, Pennsylvania and then 7 in May and the final 2 in June before the Convention in Denver in August there is a real likelihood this could draw out even longer. Math wise Obama just needs to keep on keeping on to take it to the wire, we all know Clinton will not concede until the fat lady has sung her final encore. For Clinton to overtake Obama she needs to win by a margin of 60% or more, consistently past Pennsylvania. With just under a 150 margin gap, even introducing FL and MI back into the mix, it really does not change the landscape enough to matter much.
Now for the hypocrisy angle. If Florida and Michigan were allowed to re-vote, it would be a travesty and mockery of our selection process. Do-over’s, and I have written about this syndrome before, are never fair or good. Looking at the numbers, if Michigan did a re-vote, Clinton is not guaranteed her 55% margin as all the states surrounding Michigan split their votes and margins were in the ranges of less then 10%. Since the January 15th vote people have been given new information, had their views changed, modified, or altered by the events of the past 3 months. In Florida, who would Edwards supports vote for? Could Clinton wrap up the Latino vote like she did in Texas? If they were allowed to campaign people’s views would change and the outcome would be too different to predict, in both states. No, a revote is not necessary. You voted in your private organization vote process, your re-vote comes in November. Your state party officials caused your nomination votes to not count so cry to them and Howard, the screamer, Dean over your spilt milk and hanging chads. The nomination process was to narrow the field down to 2 so the rest of the nation could chose, that is what happened. If you get to revote then all early states get to revote again as well, to be fair. From the point where just Clinton and Obama were left, let all these states re-vote as well so their voices can be heard. Your state party broke the rules, knowing the consequences and went ahead anyway and this is the result. Let’s leave the magic number at 2025 not 2381. Its still an odd number, there are still plenty of states left, and hopefully the America people will quite trying to vote in a clone of the bad old days of Clinton scandals, lawsuits, economic shut downs, terrorists passes, and foreign policies that have resulted in a greater destabilized geopolitical landscape (Please remember, it takes years, usually 8 to see effects of foreign policy unfold and mature to a point where it can be measured, GW Bush only inherited a world WJ Clinton set up and grew).
This process is beginning to get so out of hand its embarrassing for conservative Americans too. Instead of fighting over who counts and who doesn’t, that was settled back in December, let’s focus on who’s policies and platforms matter. Why can’t we see Hillary’s tax returns, Obama’s foreign trade policy draft, Clinton’s tax proposal, Obama’s hope translated into foreign and domestic outlines of milestones and accomplishments to be reached in 1, 2, and 4 years time? If I were to vote for a liberal in the general election, they must impress me in leadership and sound policies I could stomach and be willing to pay for with my tax dollars. Leaders stand out in time of crisis, and so far all I see is a sea of kids fighting over who shot who first and who died first on the playground. I might have issues with McCain, but I know what his policies are, what his ideals are, and what his vision of America is. The way the GOP nomination was conducted and settled was refreshing and impressive, especially when Huckabee conceded and McCain accepted, that was something the Democrats should learn from. Stop your in-fighting and look ahead, looking behind is not a way to lead, it’s a way of staying where you are and I don’t want my country to stay like it is now for the next 4 to 8 years.