Sunday, June 1, 2008

The end of Democratic Dreams?

So Puerto Rico has held its primary. The dead, finally, is done. The delegates can now be counted, the wrangling ended, and the Democrats can get down to the business of getting back into the White House while consolidating their hold on Congress.

Or can they? While Clinton and Obama were busy gutting each other for votes in a state without a real vote in Congress (much like the nation's capitol I might add), the Democratic rules committee was busy trying to deal with Michigan and Florida. In case you missed it, when the Democrats set out their schedule for primary races this year, Michigan and Florida, which have a significant number of electoral votes, went ahead and held their primaries outside of the Official Sanctioned order. For that transgression, they were told their votes wouldn't count in selecting the Democratic nominee.

Or won't they? You see, the Democrats are always consistent on one thing - inclusion to the point of dysfunction. When Sen. Clinton discovered that her ascendancy in the party would likely by blocked by Sen. Obama, she pulled the specter of disenfranchised voter out into the media, effectively shaming the Rules Committee into both seating and partially counting the delegates from Florida and Michigan.

I have two problems with this decision. First, as a parent, I learned long ago that discipline is best enforced with consistency and no negotiation. Basically, if you punish a kid for any reason, you don't back down. That's how they learn limits. BY allowing Florida and Michigan to be partially vote, the Democrats are undercutting their own authority. Who, realistically will listen to them the next time? All you need is a Presidential Hopeful with a big ego, and you too can disregard the national plan of your party. Never mind the hog tying of the party during the Spring and early summer months, when Republicans remained on the stage largely unchecked or questioned.

My second problem grows form the circumstances of the first - the claim that voters were disenfranchised by not counting Michigan and Florida. Since those states leaders chose not to follow the schedule, it should be up to the citizens of each state to determine if they were disenfranchised, and deal with the officials accordingly in the next election cycle. National Democratic Party officials don't need to wade into that swamp. But they did, because they couldn't stand the thought of having to tell Florida and Michigan voters that primaries are just internal decision processes. The only real disenfranchisement would have come if their votes had never been counted in the general election.

So what should Democrats do now? Well that's a tough one. Neither candidate has a convincing enough lead to claim a party mandate, yet one will eventually have to be picked to lead the fall charge. Perhaps the best we can hope for is the party saying that they didn't hide behind closed doors to deal with tough decisions. Perhaps that will be enough to convince voters that a Democratic President will be better then the Republican alternative.

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