Wednesday, May 7, 2008

FLORIDA AND MICHIGAN AND HOW DEMOCRATS LOSE ELECTIONS

What Howard Dean, the Democratic party and most of all Barack Obama was hoping wouldn't be the case is going to be the case. It cant be avoided any longer. There are 3 million 800 pound gorillas in the room and they are the voters of Florida and Michigan.

Like it or not,its all going to come down to Florida and Michigan. Howard Dean, uncscrupulously is still hoping the super delegates will bail him out. But if super delegates hand Obama a nomination he would have lost if Florida and Michigan were counted not only will it hand McCain a landslide victory in November it will divide the democratic party so badly ( one of the only things Obama has actually demonstrated he knows how to do) it will take years for the Democrats to come together as a party again just as it did in 1968. And Obama will end up persona non grata in the democratic party probably for life as the central cause of the divide.

This is the nightmare scenario the Democrats are looking at by not counting Florida and Michigan. A guaranteed landslide loss to McCain, losing congress and losing all influence in the affairs of the nation. And over what? a scheduling conflict that amounted to nothing more than a parking violation?

Howard Dean made a mistake and he knows it. He threatened to punish both states if they moved their primaries up, but who in the end is being punished? There were other things he could have done. He could have threatened to fine the parties in both states. Or suspend their leadership. Maybe even ban them from the convention. But does it make a shred of sense to punish 3 million people, 14 million Clinton voters and the entire democratic process for something the voters had absolutely nothing to do with?

Does the Democratic party really want to punish 3 million voters in Florida and Michigan and 14 million Clinton voters for what the Republican Florida governor and legislature decided? After what happened in the 2000 Presidential election, Is this how the Democratic party wants to choose their nominee for President? Many people have been waiting for Al Gore to weigh in. I have no idea what he is thinking but if I had to guess it would be that he of all people would never stomach the Democrats sending out a nominee who is there only because votes weren't counted in Florida.

And what of Michigan? Remember why Michigan wanted to move up their primary? The state was (and is) going through tremendous economic distress, more than many other states. The party wanted to move the primary up for one reason -- to get the national spotlight on Michigan and their problems at a time when they felt it would matter to the candidates and the country.

They were concerned that the nomination would be decided by the time Michigan's turn came and that the problems of the people of Michigan wouldn't get the attention it deserved, the same problems that Michael Moore threw under the proverbial bus in his letter to Pa voters, almost gleefully telling Pa voters that his Michigan vote isn't going to count because Michigan isnt going to count and to vote for Obama. The old Michael Moore would have been fighting like a man possessed to get the voters and voices of his beloved Michigan to count. He would have been incensed and would be railing at the injustice of silencing them, disenfranchising people who needed to be heard, and would have been outraged that inside party politics would take away the voices of people in need. He would have been offended at Obama and Howard Dean telling them their voices wont be counted over something as trivial as a scheduling conflict. But that would have been the old Michael Moore. The new one has been lying face down in the Kool Aid punch bowl with his cap floating on the surface for a long time now along with other members of the mainstream media.

Negating Florida and Michigan over a parking violation would be the equivalent of giving a life sentence for stealing a loaf of bread and then locking up the guy's family too..It is punishing 3 million innocent people for a decision in which they had no say and in which they did not participate. In the case of Michigan, there were noble motives for wanting to do it.

There were and are better ways to handle it and Ive mentioned them before. Fine the party. Fine the party leaders. Ban the leaders from the convention. Let Dean stand up and say he made a mistake, a horrible mistake, let him say why ( I'll volunteer to write it for him) and then do the right thing and resign.

The reason we have higher courts is to overturn wrong and unjust decisions made by lower courts judges. In this case we have many higher courts not the least of which is the court of public opinion and at least half the Democratic party and all of Florida and Michigan which will turn their back on the Democratic party if Florida and Michigan are not counted.And any Obama nomination that is obtained by not counting Florida and Michigan will be, not just in perception but in reality, a farce.

There are also two other courts. The Democratic Rules Committee and super delegates.Super delegates know how to add. And if they cant Im sure they have aides who can. And there is only one question to decide. After what happened in 2000 is the Democratic party really going to send out a nominee who is there only because votes werent counted in Florida? And Michigan as well? What of Obama supporters? Are they really content with getting their candidate in through the back door and seeing the nomination handed to him that he didn't win at the ballot box? Are they really Democrats? Members of the same party who went door to door to register African American voters in the 60's?

There are five primaries left. Super delegates need to wait till the last primary is over and then factor in the popular vote and delegate count including Florida and Michigan regardless of what the Democratic party as decided up to that point. Voters should start insisting that, until this is resolved, media outlets include the Florida and Michigan totals along with the non Florida and Michigan totals so we see where things really stand. You can't count on the news media who has treated Clinton like she was the black candidate and they were an all white jury in Mississippi in 1952, ( so much for Reverend Wright and how Clinton never had a cab pass her by -- as good a reason as any not to vote for her) but that shouldn't stop people from writing,calling or emailing media outlets insisting the Florida and Michigan totals be there side by side.If you're not sure how to do it and you know a Republican, ask them. They know how.

With regards to Michigan, since we know taking his name off the ballot was just a ploy ( see the article in the Iowa Independent) and everyone who voted knew Obama and Edwards were represented by the "uncommitted:" line which drew 39% of the vote, lets be generous to Obama and give him 30% of the uncommitted line. That is incredibly generous since Edwards had been consistently getting 14-15% of the vote and more and its inconceivable that a populist like Edwards would have gotten only 9% of the vote in Michigan. But lets bend over backwards and have the Obama campaign agree to 30% of the popular vote and 30% of the delegates.

With five primaries left, counting Florida and Michigan, Clinton is behind by approximately 80 delegates. That can be overtaken or closed to a statistically insignificant number which would then require the super delegates to vote based on other factors and what they feel is best for the party's chances in the fall since the result of the primaries will be that close.Or they can vote for the delegate and popular vote leader regardless of how small the lead. Its up to them. But either way everyone would feel honest about it and the air would be cleared.

Whatever the outcome, the delegate and popular vote lead has to be decided at the ballot box. Obama cant be sent out as the nominee based on a delegate and popular vote lead he didn't win and didn't earn, only because Howard Dean made a mistake in judgement. The will of the people has to be the will of the people, not the will of a biased press, or Obama supporters willing to stifle the voices of 3 million voters in Florida and Michigan, or Obama himself who publicly says "voices must be heard" and "every vote counts" but who seems very willing to keep the voters of Florida and Michigan from being counted simply.to further his own political ambitions., The Democrats cant send out a candidate who is walking around with an asterisk on his back.

It comes down to only one thing for the Democratic party. The nominee wins honestly or not at all. All the votes have to be counted. That Obama is willing for them not to be counted tells as much as about who and what he really is as any speech he has ever given. This the candidate who is trying to tell (and sell ) people that he is a "new" politician "rejecting the divisive politics of the past".If so then let him prove it.Or prove that he's not what he says he is. And super delegates can take that into consideration too.

There cant be any slipping in through the back door. Its up to the higher courts to right the wrong, whether its the Democratic Rules Committee, super delegates, public opinion or Dean himself. We wont hold our breath that Mr.Every Vote Should Count will stand up and demand they be seated on principle. After all, what's principle when your personal ambition is at stake?

Dean and many weak kneed super delegates are probably worrying that if they allow Florida and Michigan to be seated Obama and his crew will start screaming that the party is playing politics and trying to "give" the nomination to Clinton. The answer to that is, who knew that when Obama said he was rejecting the poltics of the past he was talking about elections?

The other thing super delegates and Dean might be worrying about is that Obama himself and other surrogates might scream racism in a crowded convention center. How ironic for the first credible African American candidate for the nomination for President would start screaming racism because people's votes were being counted.

To listen to the surrogates of Obama's campaign ( not to mention Obama himself) it doesn't bother them at the moment that they are trying themselves to be given the nomination by not counting votes. They have no second thoughts about trying to steal the nomination the way Obama tried to steal delegates he didn't win and didn't earn and ignore the will of the people by floating the idea that he be given 50% of the delegates of Florida and Michigan in one of the most brazenly dishonest and self serving moments of the primary season.

There is only one thing the Democrats can do and that is the right thing and that is to count Florida and Michigan.If they dont its going to be 1968 all over again for the Democrats. The November election will be a landside for McCain and the Republicans since Clinton voters as a whole and Florida and Michigan specifically will never support a nominee who is there only because votes weren't counted in Florida and Michigan. Super delegates trying to get Dean off the hook by declaring for Obama and then letting Florida and Michigan be seated as a cosmetic gesture when it doesn't matter wont work either. Everyone would see through that.

If Hillary Clinton should end the primary season with the popular vote and delegate lead including Florida and Michgian, and she doesn't get the nomination, it will ensure a major disaster in the fall elections in both Presidential and congressional elections, and will divide the party in ways, and cost the Democrats elections in the future, that they wont recover from for years to come. There is a lot more riding on seating Florida and Michigan than just this election.

The easiest and quickest solution right now would be the one I stated earlier. Dean should hold a press conference admit he made a terrible mistake, issue a statement that the Democratic party, especially after 2000, stands for every vote being counted, that he is going to recommend to the Rules Committee to let the Florida and Michigan results stand as is, and then resign. And then let the candidates do what they are supposed to. Fight it out at the ballot box in the 5 remaining primaries so the Democrats can go forward with the air cleared, everyone supporting a legitimate nominee and no one feeling like they've been robbed.

Howard, I'd be glad to write it for you. Just drop me a line.

To further support the seating of Florida Michigan visit: COUNTTHEVOTES
For a list of super delegates you can contact to tell them to include Florida and Michigan in their decision visit THE SUPERDELEGATE TRANSPARENCY PROJECT

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

"There is a lot more riding on seating Florida and Michigan than just this election."

Excellent analysis of the situation. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Offering these quotes apropo for this day when it seems the world is off its axis:
"There is no greater impotence in all the world like knowing you are right and that the wave of the world is wrong, yet the wave crashes upon you."
- Norman Mailer
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
- Krishnamurti
Neverthless, you have provided us with a reasoned piece on the state of our politics. I'd say "our Democratic party" but I'm choking on the words.
I will circulate this to the DNC and super d's - not an easy considering the lion's den quality of what we're up against.
The biggest obstacle - as I think I mentioned before - is getting the Brazzile's, the Dean's et al to come off their perch. Outsized egos do not slink quietly into the night...
I share your doomsday scenario for the dems, Marc. Can only hope that cooler heads like yours prevail.
One last note: I cried as I read this...
~Claudia-NYC

CognitiveDissonance said...

Wow, powerful post which describes my feelings exactly. Today with all the pundits shrilly screaming that it's time for Hillary to bow out, they are once again forgetting the big ugly elephant in the room. They need to know that WE won't forget. We will not fall in line behind an illegitimate candidate who has stolen an election. And they will not frighten us with rancid stories about McCain and the Supreme Court and the sky falling!

Hillary08-SaveUS! said...

While the babies in the party may be naive to Obama's faults, and Blacks may be willing to overlook it, (and don't even get me started with the rich, liberal Democrats - they gave us McGovern AND Dukakis), the rest of us are not so easily fooled. Obama is a shrewd politician - not infallible nor incapable of any and all wrong, including political tricks. He knew exactly what he was doing in Michigan when he removed his name, it was no sacrifice to him as polls indicated he would lose by more than 20 points. Even more devious - he conspired with other Democratic candidates (who have confirmed this) to have their names removed too, knowing he would benefit the most from this in garnishing favors with Iowans (which he then won because of this). What state would want to give up their status in picking the US president every 4 year? Can you say stupid ethanol corn subsidies that cost more than they are worth? Political favors - is something Obama knows all too well about (ie. Rezko, Wright, Ayers). Chicago is notorious for the corruption in its politics and Obama and his wife are not immune.

It really surprises me every time why the American people are so quick to throw people away who have devoted often their entire lives, as Hillary has (over 35 years) of proven, actual accomplishments to fighting for the average American. Someone who has fought for children, for veterans, for 9/11 workers, for senior citizens, and for African Americans, and on and on - with proven and actual successes. They throw all this away the second someone offers them promises of "hope and change," someone with little to no experience or know-how to bring this about.

I question the higher-ups who support Obama too - I have only come to two conclusions: 1) they think Obama is a push-over and they will be able to control him like a puppet (which they can't do with someone as tenacious as Hillary), 2) they absolutely and completely hate Hillary for often inexplicable reasons.

I just ask that you research Obama before you support him. Your wannabe-Messiah according to the Iowa Independent:
"The campaign for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, arguably fearing a poor showing in Michigan, reached out to the others with a desire of leaving New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as the only candidate on the ballot. The hope was that such a move would provide one more political obstacle for the Clinton campaign to overcome in Iowa."

He's afraid of elections. Afraid of the people's choice. Afraid of losing, as he has in every major important Democratic state. Why is it that it's only when a woman gets in that all rules change to destroy her? That those of her own party conspire to play illegal dirty games including disenfranchising millions of voters and this is tolerated? That she can't attack him and point out their differences? That she can't show emotion, but shouldn't be overly tough? It's the impossible double standard all over again. Very disgusting Democrats and the media. I thought witch-hunts were over, guess not. Luckily, Hillary is a fighter. She knows how important this is and why it is - the people. Every time they set an impossible goal-post, she crosses it. And so they move it further. Absolutely grotesque.

Andrys said...

Bravo! Beautifully reasoned post.

What Obama has done here fits everything in his past - he has spent most of his previous campaigns trying to toss people off the ballot so he could run unopposed, usually succeeding (with 5 off during his very first run, including Alice Palmer) and then with two U. S. Senate opponents whose marital problems Axelrod and team pressured the Chicago Tribune to reveal and they did.

And now we've seen that since before Ohio (when Obama's much quoted, quite accurate spreadsheet of expectations for each state showed him about to lose Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania), his big push and that of his many surrogates was to get Clinton OUT of the election. The man doesn't like opposition.

This is the man of Hope, Change and New Politics, but it's more about his personal Hope and Change, and then you see it makes total sense that he did all he could to prevent re-votes in Florida and Michigan, the Uniter always finding obstacles while others were willing to unite and do something productive.

I agree and have suggested in the past to DNC that they just charge the two states $1 million or whatever it takes to feel satisfaction that the state parties paid a price, including Florida who tried to get an amendment to move the primary to Feb 5 but their Republican legislature voted No.

That did not bother the great Unifier. All that mattered was how his lead might be somewhat narrower and that had to be avoided, never mind VOTERS' basic rights being affirmed. This is really a much sadder story than most will acknowledge. It goes to how easy it is to lose one's sense of basic principles in order to keep a better margin. And actually, it IS "New politics" because few would have had the audacity to do this to voters in the recent past.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post!! I called the DNC yesterday morning and told them that if the Florida and Michigan voters were not allowed a truly representative vote BEFORE the nominee was determined, that I'd NEVER send them any more money. I also told them that I had all ready switched from being a life-long Dem to an Independent several weeks ago as a result of the situation with Florida and Michigan. If Democrats aren't allowed to vote and then to have their votes counted, the party isn't any better than the Republicans of 2000. I want no part in a political party who is willing to disenfranchise millions of voters.

Anonymous said...

I love it. Great article and comments. I am energized, but it's way past my bedtime. Thanks one and all. I will mull this over all night.
Perhaps we will have change--of the right kind.

Michigander said...

There was no legitimate primary in Michigan. There are no legitimate votes to count. Pretending that a fake primary represents the will of the people is simply adding insult to injury.

If you don't want to disenfranchise the people of Michigan, let us vote. If you want to fine the state party, fine them enough to pay for a real primary. Then let the candidates come and campaign, and let the chips fall where they may.

By the way, I can't imagine where you get the idea that Hillary Clinton is only behind by 80 delegates. She's behind by over 150.

If any delegate elected in January is seated in Denver, I'm finished with the so-called Democratic party. Let me vote!

No delegation without representation!

Anonymous said...

If I accept all your arguments about seating Florida and Michigan, what happens in the next presidential cycle when it comes to scheduling primaries/states?

Won't everyone try to be first, and then all the elections end up spilling into the year before the election (or worse?)

Because that's the inevitable outcome of what you ask for.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, you said everything I want to say. I particularly like the paragraph about Moore. I have long known the Republicans are a bunch of hypocrites; but this time I realized the so-called liberals can be equally bad. If the DNC does not seat these two states, I will NEVER vote for any democrat who supported Obama. Period.

Anonymous said...

Get your facts right Tom...Michigan tried this same crap in the 2000 election primary and were penalized by the DNC then and all the Democratic candidates took their names off the ballot. Hillary was the one conniving!! The only reason the candidates didn't take their names off the Florida ballot is because Florida made them sign an affadavit that they were dropping out of being a candidate for President (not just in Florida but everywhere). Michigan and Florida broke the rules and the Obama campaign has played by the rules. Hillary's campaing flip flops depending on which way the wind blows! But having said that, I would still vote for Hillary if she got the nomination. Unlike the last verbose commentor who would "NEVER" vote for an Obama supporter. Do we need idiots like you and Tom in the Democratic Party?

MDR said...

Is this an example of the more highly educated Obama supporter?
Obama took his name off the ballot after his internal polling showed he was getting his head handed to him by 20 pts.Then in his uniquely back door way he arranged to his name represented by a line that said "uncommitted" so he could have his cake and eat it too. When Edwards heard about it he decided to join the "uncommitted" line. and HIllary was not the only name on the ballot. And she still received 56% of vote and Obama did get his head handed him just as he knew he would. Obama and the other candidates also signed a pledge that they would "forefeit any delegates won" if they campaigned in the state. So there was a supposition that these delegates might in fact count. The fact is your candidate may not be good enough to win by counting all the votes, and it looks like he isnt the voice or will of the people.Obama himself said, "every vote must count. Voices must be heard". Of corse no one saw that he had his fingers crossed when he said it. The votes are valid. they were certified by the secretary of state and they count in terms of determining who is the will of the people.If Clinton wins the popular vote and doesnt get the nominaton the convention is going to look lke 1968 and the Democrats are finished in the fall.

Vic from Oregon said...

Thanks for the thoughtful article. As an Independent, I'm t so worried about the Democratic Party falling apart beause, this time, it may finally lead to the makings of a third party, while the Republican Party splits off into a fourth conservative party. The monoplogy of the 2 parties is,at times, overwhelming for me. But, that said, I am amazed by the docility of the American public to let Howard Dean's greatest mistake go barely challenged. In fact, some even support it withe the spruious argument of utter chaos for future elections. As this article points out, Michigan had real reasons to go early, and Florida, if they wanted apaper trail for the electronic ballot, had to vote for the legislation also moving the primary up in the Republican controlled congress.

People thinking that a little voter chaos is the equivalent to the sky falling rather than the disenfranchisement of millions of voters in 2 states that will go Republican in the fall because of itof the overzealous nautre of the penalty for early voting, have gotten their sense of perspective skewed. I could publically organize voter fraud and walk away with a less severe penalty. Just like Sen. Obama doesn't like opposition, neither does Howard Dean.

This fiasco is the ONLY situation I can imagine that would hand John McCain an election he should never have been able to win. That people are more concerned with ipholding the severest penalties to a voter infraction thatn winning the elction back for their party is mind boggling.

This nightmare scenario would even be happening iof the DNC had finished the selection process and criteria for what states to let hold early primaries. THET WERE THE ONES thart stated this whole ball rolling. And, in the middle of it, put the remainder of the work on hold. Unbelieveable lack of foresight. Howard Dean should resign. And, if he doesn't, the Democrats should be dragging him out of his office right about now and throwing him onto the sidewalk for the most substantial, divisive, incompetent, possibly irreparable decision to disenfranchise millions of voters in the most historical election in living memory. Carl Rove couldn't have done a better job at destroying the Democratic Party.

The Republicans penalized these states for the same inferqactrion by cutting thier votes in half. Done. Everybody unites. No bikering, no committees, no allowing candidates to manipulate things to their favor on the television which only makes the party look confused, incompetent and directionless(which is what candidates do - they advocate for themselves, not for the party, people).

Maybe a true progressive party will form out of this struggle. Maybe the 2 party system will get some real competition and then the media might be forced to actually focus on what the candidates have done, not on what they promise to do.

Anyone who claims to be a uniter and not a divider, but has still as yet to meet with the most centrist and effective Republican in Washington, Sen. Susan Collins -if you actually want to get bi-partisan legislation passed - is perhaps not quite up to his own words.

I am not, this time,. voting for the lesser of 2 evils, going with the Democrat because he is not as bad as the Republican. I am also not convinced Sen. Obama has nearly enough experience not to make some very poor judgments.

I will continue to push for seating the Michigan and Florida delegates, despite Michael Moore's wish to the contrary, and insist that the DNC count his, and everyone elses's vote afterall. If this doens't happen, I will begin to work for a true democracy beyond the 2 party system.