Wednesday :: Feb 13, 2008

Florida and Michigan

by Turkana

The irony is that if Florida and Michigan had scheduled their primaries for roughly the same dates as in 2004, they both would have been critically important. Michigan would have been last week, either on or right after Super Tuesday, and it would have been seen as an important battleground state. Given the results of Super Tuesday, Michigan would have made the difference, on that day, or it would have been the most important state in the days immediately after. Florida would have been in early March. Given the way this race has played out, it would have joined Ohio and Texas as a sort of second Super Tuesday, and as the weekend that would either end Hillary Clinton's campaign, or possibly vault her back into the lead. For Clinton supporters in Florida and Michigan, the irony is particularly rich, because Michigan probably would kept her ahead, last week, while Florida likely would have given her a serious boost in early March. Those two states could have played major roles in securing the nomination for Clinton. Instead, should they be excluded from the convention, their exclusion could cost her the nomination.

The arguments about what to do with Florida and Michigan are rife with dishonesty. The Clinton campaign is wrong to claim the current delegates should be seated. While it is true that Obama also played games in both states, the fact remains that the Democratic National Committee disqualified both states, there were not normal campaigns in either, everyone knew it, and the results from both states cannot be presumed to reflect the actual will of the voters. To seat the delegates as they are would not be fair to the Obama campaign. A similarly dishonest resolution would be to split the states' delegates between the two candidates. That idea was briefly floated last week, but it, too, would not reflect the will of the voters, and it would be unfair to the Clinton campaign, which would be legitimately favored in both states, even in legitimate primaries. And some Obama supporters suggest both states should now hold caucuses, but that is as dishonest as would be seating the current delegates, because everyone knows that Obama has a virtual lock on caucuses, and that turnout for caucuses is but a small fraction of turnout for primaries. Caucuses would undoubtedly disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of people who showed up to vote in the previous primaries, and hundreds of thousands of people feeling disenfranchised by the Democratic Party is not a palatable option. So, none of these solutions is fair. But finding a solution is necessary.

Holding a convention with no delegates from Florida or Michigan would be disastrous for the Democratic Party. No matter who is to blame, disenfranchising millions of Democratic voters would probably result in both states going Republican, this November, no matter who ends up winning the Democratic nomination. The Democrats can't afford to risk that. The Democratic nominee will likely need at least one of the two states, and possibly both, to win the presidency. That's the real problem. Punishing two wayward state committees is not worth the risk of losing the White House. The DNC needs to come up with a solution that includes Florida and Michigan, and is fair to both candidates. The only plausible solution would seem to be another set of primaries, with both candidates being able to mount campaigns. I have no idea whether or not that is logistically possible, but I do know that the state committees don't have the funds to hold primaries, on their own. I suggest that the DNC offer to pay for both primaries, and that the candidates agree to one debate in each state. In exchange, the two state committees agree to abide by DNC rules, next time. Compromises need to be made by everyone. The DNC has better ways to spend its money, and the candidates have better ways to spend their time and money, but they all need Florida and Michigan. They all need to find a solution that everyone agrees is fair. It's time for everyone to stop playing games, to stop trying to manipulate the situation to serve their own ends, and to realize that if anyone ends up feeling they were treated unfairly, the entire Democratic Party will suffer for it.

(Note: I wrote this last night. Jerome Armstrong has a post up, today, that explains a further complication: the DNC is holding Florida and Michigan to a double-standard. This needs to be resolved, and quickly.)

Turkana :: 11:09 AM :: Comments (41) :: Digg It!