Triumph of the Will (of the Voter)


Katherine Mangu-Ward has a column coming up later today about the trainwrecktastic Florida Democratic primary, but I had my own reaction to Hillary Clinton's appearance in Michigan yesterday, demanding that the decision to strip the state of delegates be overturned. My reaction was about 6 oz. and took on a greenish-grey milky color.

I've been saying for some time that the people of Michigan and Florida must have a voice in selecting our nominee for president.

Technically, this is true. Last year she said she was okay with Michigan and Florida being stripped of delegates if they broke DNC rules. And then New Hampshire and Iowa voted, and Clinton flip-flopped. So she's had this new position for "some time." After she won 55 percent of the vote in Michigan (where Obama and Edwards were not on the ballot), she declared victory. After she won 49 percent of the vote in Florida (where no one campaigned), she declared victory again. And now:

That's why I've been saying we need to either count the votes that have already been cast in Michigan and Florida or have new, full, and fair elections so that we can have your voices and your votes counted.

Democrats, you have a choice: Give Clinton delegates that she earned by cheating, or hold new elections that will be biased in her favor. In Michigan, for example, people who voted in the Republican primary back in January would be disallowed to vote in a new primary. If you were one of those McCain/Obama indecisives who went for McCain so your vote would count, tough luck. If you want to vote for Hillary again, congratulations!

It is the vote that has given voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless. It is through that vote that women, African American, Latinos and so many others have claimed their rights as full and equal citizens. We have made our laws more just and our society more fair. Each vote is a declaration of our dreams for our children and a reflection of our prayers for our nation's future. That is why generations of brave men and women marched and protested, risked and gave their lives for this right.

I don't believe Hillary Clinton, Yale Law '73, is a simpleton, so I have to believe she's simply being venal. Primary elections are not ordinary elections. They occur on different days in different states. Some of them limit their participation to registered members of a party, and some do not. Many of them are caucuses that don't feature a secret ballot. Their results can be toyed with after the fact, in state party conventions, at the the national convention. And the most relevant fact about them at the moment is that, in the Democratic primary, elections only determine about 78 percent of the delegates who will nominate a candidate for president. The rest of the delegates are superdelegates whom the voters did not choose. So, is Hillary going to ask her superdelegates to un-endorse her? She'd have to, if she believes so fully in the will of the voter.

This whole ridiculous fight over primary mulligans is sort of a metaphor for how our parties work, isn't it? The Republicans set rules before the process started, some of the rules were unfair to some of the candidates (Mitt Romney's Massachusetts divided its delegates by the popular vote, while John McCain's Arizona gave them all to the winner), but the contestants sucked it up and abided by the rules. The Democrats set rules that gave them all equal opportunity, and here they are, demanding to change the rules to get a better outcome.

Oh, and I'm not even getting into the Clintonite proposal to have millionaire friends fund a new election so that she can win it. But I'm sure it's what Harriet Tubman was fighting for, or something.