Back in January, when Florida and Michigan held early primaries in violation of party rules, it didn't seem like a big deal.Hillary Clinton takes the lead in the Gallop Poll: 49-42
Now, however, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton locked in delegate-by-delegate combat for the Democratic presidential nomination, the absence of legitimate elections in two large states further complicates the muddled situation. Both Florida and Michigan have floated plans for new primary elections later this spring, but at this point they appear to be failing.
That would be a shame.
The Democratic National Committee had little choice but to strip these states of their delegates after they defied party rules and held their primaries before Feb. 5. (The Republican Party docked both states half their delegates.) Yet nothing in the rules prevents the two states from holding new elections after that date.
Together, Florida and Michigan account for 9% of Americans and more than 8% of Democratic delegates. They could affect the outcome of the nomination race, and therefore the general election and the nation's future. To take their voice away because of the boneheaded decisions of legislatures to play chicken with the parties is a slap in the face of popular sovereignty.
While there is no constitutional right to vote in nominating contests, the two parties have essentially adopted this principle by choosing their nominees in primaries and caucuses, rather than smoke-filled rooms. Polls have made clear that Democrats do not want "super delegates" tipping the balance if Obama emerges from the primaries leading in pledged delegates and popular votes.
Given this desire for letting the people decide, would it not behoove the party to find a way to have revotes in Michigan and Florida? It's true that this might benefit Clinton, who was in Detroit on Wednesday appealing for a do-over. But if Obama (who wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan in January) wants the people to decide, should he not want to ensure that all the people are in on the process?[...]
These concerns, however, should not be so great as to outweigh the positive of finding a way to allow millions of people to go to the polls and have a say in the outcome.
Doing nothing would leave key decisions up to the party insiders on the Democrats' Rules and Bylaws Committee. Agreeing to seat some or all the delegates now, based on the lopsided "wins" in January for Clinton, would be grossly unfair. Seating them after one of the candidates has won, or splitting them 50-50 now, would give delegates a place at the convention but would deny voters a voice.
The way out of this mess is to vote over.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Brief break from college sports...
USA Today writes that Michigan and Florida voters deserve to have their voices heard.