Politics

Disenfranchising Michigan and Florida?

The mess the Democrats have made for themselves

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The vote was once denied to women. It was denied to blacks. It was denied to those without land. And today, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm tell us, it is being denied to their people.

The Democratic and Republican parties are depriving them of delegates to the nominating conventions because they held their primaries too early, and the governors are horrified at this treatment. "The right to vote is at the very foundation of our democracy," they said in a statement.

"It is intolerable that the national political parties have denied the citizens of Michigan and Florida their votes and voices at their respective national conventions."

Hear that sound? It's a tiny sad song, being played on the world's smallest violin.

Let's review what happened here. Back in 2006, the Democratic National Committee approved rules for when states could hold their primaries. They decreed that no states except Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina could vote before Feb. 5—and that any state jumping the gun would lose its convention delegates. (The Republican National Committee cancelled just half of their delegates.) According to the DNC, the members from Florida and Michigan supported that policy.

But then some people in those states had a better idea. They were sick of seeing Iowa and New Hampshire hog all the attention. So the legislatures and governors decided to flout the approved schedule and hold their primaries in January. They figured they were so big and important that the presidential candidates would show up to campaign anyway—and that the party would ultimately cave in and seat their delegates.

Saul Anuzis, head of the Michigan Republican Party, summed up the prevailing sentiment among politicians on both sides of the aisle: "We understand that this violates the rules of both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee. We don't care."

But come 2008, the defiant ones got a surprise: Their ploy was a bust. The Democratic candidates all refused to campaign in either state (the exception being Dennis Kucinich). If that's not bad enough, the Democratic Party has refused to budge.

Says DNC Chairman Howard Dean, "You can't change the rules in the middle of the game. Florida and Michigan voted for a set of rules and then decided that unlike the other 48 states, they would do something different. That's not fair, and it doesn't respect either the Clinton campaign, the Obama campaign, or the other 48 states."

But Crist and Granholm are not alone in protesting. Hillary Clinton feels their pain. As a press spokesman said last week, "The people of Florida and Michigan have already voted, and their voices ought to be heard. That's why Senator Clinton is urging her delegates to vote to seat both delegations at the convention."

What a surprise. After all, she won both. But she owes her victories to the fact that her opponents didn't campaign in Florida or Michigan. Having profited because her rivals followed the rules, she now wants to benefit because those states didn't.

Barack Obama's campaign, on the other hand, has floated the novel idea of putting aside the results and simply splitting the delegates evenly between him and Clinton. That option would have the completely unintended effect of keeping his current delegate lead perfectly intact.

It's true that if the DNC stands firm, the people of Florida and Michigan may have no role in choosing the nominee. But Crist and Granholm shouldn't blame the DNC for that—they should blame themselves. The DNC apparently would be willing to let them have "do-over" caucuses or primaries.

But those would cost millions of dollars, which neither the states nor the state parties want to spend. And the DNC says it won't pay them to do what they should have done in the first place.

Of course, the DNC could simply surrender and let those who broke the rules get away with it—thus assuring that next time, there will be primaries in December or November or October instead of January.

Better to tell the state parties that they chose to forfeit their delegates and their choice will be respected. If losing out makes the politicians in Florida and Michigan unhappy, I can speak for most people in the rest of the country in saying: We don't care.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  1. I don’t know about Michigan but in Florida, it was the Republican controlled state Congress that changed the date. If I remember correctly, the Democrats voted against the date change (at least the majority did).
    This means they are being punished for something beyond their control.

  2. Billery will stop at nothing to win the nomination. She is even offering the vice presidency to Obama, when he is winning. I mean, WTF?

  3. I find it humorous that one of these idiot Democrats will soon be president. They are the party of change after all.

  4. To Deaniel:
    The Reps did have a majority in the vote but most (if not all, I can’t remember) dems voted for it. It was slipped into a bill that required a paper trail and diligent vote counting, two things that no Floridian Dem would vote against. So, although the Florida Dems are equally to blame, they probably felt a primary problem would be preferable to another Supreme Court Presidential Appointment, as in 2000.

  5. Sorry, that should read:
    To Daniel.

    I double checked, and it was passed unanimously.

    Also, the primary bit was added by a first-year Dem, someone who is probably getting quite the brow beating from the other Florida Dems.

  6. Why do state legislatures have anything to do with the primary process? Political Parties should be private entities and make their own decisions on how to nominate candidates. Do the Libertarian, Green, Constitution Parties, etc have this kind of problem?

  7. Of course, the DNC could simply surrender and let those who broke the rules get away with it-thus assuring that next time, there will be primaries in December or November or October instead of January.

    We might as well start the 2012 primaries right now.

  8. So when Hillary is the nominee of the Democrats, will the cry be “Selected, not Elected!”?

    Ironic, wouldn’t it be?

  9. Why do state legislatures have anything to do with the primary process? Political Parties should be private entities and make their own decisions on how to nominate candidates. Do the Libertarian, Green, Constitution Parties, etc have this kind of problem?

    Do the aforementioned parties receive taxpayer subsidies to conduct party business? After all, a primary is nothing more than party business.

    Of course not. The incumbent slugs of the two major parties love the system as it is. Free publicity, plus the taxpayers pick up part of the expenses in the nominating process. I’m disgusted by the whole incestual relationship.

  10. Michael:
    Nah, it would be “ironic” if it were Gore. If Hillary gets the nomination without getting the popular vote that would just be “sad”.

  11. So people who can’t run a primary election will soon be in charge of the U.S., and will think they’re in charge of the world.

    What a way to start Monday.

  12. Who are the wizards that came up with stripping transgressors of all their delegates?

    As much as it pains me to praise the RNC, taking away half the delegates is a non-trivial punishment (especially to larger states) without the byproduct of telling the common folk, “Because of decisions made by people you’ve never heard of, we don’t care what you think. But be sure to vote for us in the general this fall.”

  13. New bumper sticker for 2009:

    ” Don’t blame me, I live in Michigan ( or Florida)”

  14. This probably wouldn’t even be a major issue if it weren’t for the entire ridiculous process the Democrats use to pick their candidate, such as relying on too many caucuses, the proportional delegate selection instead of winner take all states, and having an utterly absurd 20% of the delegates assigned as so-called “superdelegates”.

    If I were a Democrat, I think I’d be even more ticked off about having that many superdelegates than the whole Michigan-Florida debacle.

  15. Who are the wizards that came up with stripping transgressors of all their delegates?

    Wizards of the Coastal Elite!

    /geek

  16. As much as it pains me to praise the RNC, taking away half the delegates is a non-trivial punishment (especially to larger states) without the byproduct of telling the common folk, “Because of decisions made by people you’ve never heard of, we don’t care what you think. But be sure to vote for us in the general this fall.”

    Yeah, but at least in Michigan not every candidate was even on the ballot…IIRC, Obama et al. sans Clinton and Kucinich were merely following the rules by omitting themselves. Should they be punished for following the rules?

    That doesn’t seem fair. That isn’t to say a redo with all the candidates on the ballot is not a good idea…but counting them as is seems just slightly to the left of completely ridiculous.

  17. Even a re-do is going to favor Hillary, since she would be seen as the one who made the DNC compromise with FL & MI, while Obama stood idly by. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men…

  18. I am not going to say this is better than nude women’s oil wrestling, but it is damn close – I hope Obama ends up with… 23 more delegates, Clinton has fewer popular votes only WITHOUT Florida, and if Michigan is included it just gets too confusing!

  19. L through P,

    My comment was (badly) aimed at a point further in the past. I think that now that they have these rules, they’d be foolish not to follow them. My intended point was, “before it was determined which (if any) states would defy the rule, and before it turned out to be relevant, why did the DNC institue such a harsh penalty?” The RNC sanctions seemed appropriate without being completely disenfranchising. If the DNC did it to “ensure” that no one dared defy the rules (and their sanction would do a better job of that than the RNC’s,) then the question is “what was the plan if their bluff got called?” If it was to just fold and roll over, they shouldn’t have put themselves in that position, lest they look… well, like the DNC of the last 10 years.

  20. Here in Michigan, neither Obama nor Edwards (who was still running in January) was on the ballot. The Democratic ballot was Clinton (who “won”), Kucinich, or “uncommitted,” and “uncommitted” still got 40% of the vote. (Who the hell stands in line in Michigan in January to vote “uncommitted”?) FYI, Hillary broke the rules by even having her name on the ballot.

    The foolishness in Michigan was bipartisan. It was pushed by (Democrat) Grandholm through the (Democrat) legislature, but the GOP didn’t put up a fight.

    I hear the RNC is waiving the sanction of taking away half the Michigan delegates, since even though Romney won (winner-take-all), he’s already dropped out and endorsed McCain, so it doesn’t make any difference anyway.

  21. When will these fools realize that in a close contest (which is the only time it matters) like this one, it’s the last states to vote (after all the also-rans drop out) that have the greater influence?

  22. Legate Damar-

    You ask why didn’t the DNC just strip the offending states of 50% of their delegates rather than 100% of their delegates. The answer is because the states that move their primaries up to January don’t care about conferring delegates. They care about conferring momentum. The 2008 Democratic primary race is one of the rare cases in which the delegate margin between the two leading candidates might actually turn out to be so narrow that a single state’s delegates could actually matter.

    But most nomination contests aren’t that close. Most of the time (at least recently), one candidate builds up a critical mass of momentum from wins in the early states, and then starts winning everywhere, and the necessary delegates inevitably follow. So if a state wants to be influential, they should move up to the begining of the primary calendar, when momentum is most important. As long as there are *some* delegates at stake, and the candidates actually campaign there, those primaries will confer momentum.

    So the only way to punish the states enough that they might think twice about moving up is to take away so many delegates that the candidates don’t even bother campaigning there. On the GOP side, 50% clearly wasn’t enough to deter the candidates from campaigning in FL & MI. Those states ended up being plenty influential (moreso than they would have been if they’d voted later and had more delegates), so the FL & MI GOP got exactly what they wanted.

  23. I just want to get my hand on some good “Re-Nominate Obama” bumper stickers.

  24. Something else the DNC did to try to get states not to jump to the front of the line was to offer a 30% delegate bonus to states that held their contests after May 5.

    If Michigan and Florida schedule re-votes, and get a bonus over states that didn’t break the rules, that would be a kick in the pants.

  25. We might as well start the 2012 primaries right now.

    Hillary already has.

  26. Something else the DNC did to try to get states not to jump to the front of the line was to offer a 30% delegate bonus to states that held their contests after May 5.

    Throw in a set of steak knives, you got yerself a deal.

  27. Dick Morris believes that if Hillary steals the nomination, it will have repercussions for the Democrat Party beyond this election. Disenfranchised young people and blacks that supported Obama may leave the party.

    Hillary thinks she can remedy the whole thing by throwing the Obama people some crums by having Obama as her running mate. She has alot of gall.

  28. As a resident of Michigan, I sure hope our “vote” doesn’t count. I know plenty of moderates who voted for McCain in the Republican primary because we couldn’t vote for Obama in the Democratic one.

    The results of that election are obviously meaningless.

  29. Disenfranchised young people and blacks that supported Obama may leave the party.

    Psst, hey kid, over here. So, I hear your lookin’ for something. I tell ya what, I got this party, and man it can blow your mind. Trust me, once you know what liberty really is, you’ll never want to go back to that cheap authoritarian crap. Don’t get me wrong, the authoritarian power trip is nice but it just doesn’t last much longer than the election. So what do you say kid? Come on, try it, just one deep breath of freedom. That’s all I’m askin’.

  30. Political parties, like pro sports leagues, are private enterprises that can do as they
    please, as long as it’s within the law. That said, here’s a thought: five jumbo primaries in five months, with the first four allocated by a computer-generated lottery. That way, the
    candidates are compelled to maintain a national message, and pandering is rendered
    futile.

  31. In my humble opinion, the elections in the two states were very different.

    In Michigan, the only major candidate of the democratic party was Hillary Clinton. It would not be fair in any sense of the word to seat those delegates.

    However, in Florida, none of the major candidates campaigned in the state. Hillary Clinton won that contest without campaigning and had just as much of a chance to win as the other candidates. I do believe that those delegates should be seated.

  32. Jason:
    Even in Florida, the vote was clearly unfair to Obama. He was, then, the relatively unknown newcomer. Wherever he has had an opportunity to campaign and make himself known, he has closed the gap that Clinton held by virtue of her own notoriety.

    Obama followed the rules and his voters didn’t even have a real chance to vote, understanding that it would not count anyway.

    Both states need to caucus or hold a real primary in which candidates are given an equal opportunity.

  33. so bad! why you do so complicated things? I just don’t understand it why you want to make so intricate things?

  34. typical democrats if you don’t like the result change the rules and recount, the supreme court wouldn’t let them get away with it in 2000 and hopefully if they try it again the public will punish the democrats by turning away from voting for any of their candidates.

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