Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Just for the Record...

I think this proposal for how to resolve the Michigan delegate conundrum is reasonably fair and logical.

Both the Florida and Michigan delegates are impossible situations for the DNC - there simply is no way of resolving the problem that is fair to the voters of those states, to both remaining candidates, AND to the other states which did follow the rules from the outset.

And although there has been a lot of talk about supposed concerns over "disenfranchising" those voters who chose to participate in the beauty election primaries in these two states, it would be equally problematic (in my view) to then disenfranchise those people who chose not to participate in what they had been told was a non-binding election. The voter participation in both states was considerably lower than it has been in other states this cycle as a proportion of the population- we have to assume that this is at least in part because some people who would have otherwise voted believed the words of the party leadership when they insisted that this vote would not be valid.

Also, consider the fate of the Michigan voter who is not allowed to vote for his preferred candidate, even in the "beauty contest" race - only Clinton, Kucinich and Dodd were on the ballots there, leaving not only Obama voters but also Richardson, Edwards and Biden out in the cold.

It sucks - it really does. What about a full re-vote in both states. A clear and fair solution, right? Well, yes and no. First of all, there was a concerted campaign by Daily Kos in Michigan to persuade Democratic voters to vote in the Republican primary in order (ironically) to keep that race going for longer. This would prevent those people from then voting in a new Democratic primary.

What's more, this resolution of the problem would effectively turn these two states and their new elections into by far the most important races of the primary so far - thereby penalising each and every state that chose to play by the rules from the outset. Look down the line into the next cycle - in 4 years from now, doesn't this give each and every state an unbelievably strong incentive to break the party rules and set their primaries even earlier? If we're not careful we'll be chosing our next nominee before we've even managed to elect this one! This is precisely the outcome that Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were ALL trying to avoid when Dean proposed the penalties and the candidates agreed to support them.

I'm not saying that excluding the Michigan and Florida delegates from the Convention is in any way desirable - but I just don't see any solution at all that is fair to everyone. And I don't want to argue this from a narrow, pro-candidate position either - this is about the long term health of the party. When the Rules and Bylaws Committee meets on Saturday, they need to find a miraculous solution that will take all these factors into account, be acceptable to both campaigns, operate under a clear reading of the rules, and hopefully draw a close to the whole discussion so we can move on to fighting Republicans. I just can't think was that miracle solution might be!

Can you?

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