An observation

If there’s one lesson I hope everyone concerned has learnt from the current US election cycle: it’s a really stupid idea to disenfranchise a whole bunch of your constituents for any reason. I’m thinking of the debacle surrounding the Democratic primaries in Florida and Michigan.

Of course it has only become such a thorny issue because the race is so close; in a lot of years it wouldn’t have made any difference. But it’s one of those situations where, with the benefit of hindsight, it seems blindingly obvious that to disenfranchise whole states and millions of voters should not have been the solution to a matter of internal party discipline. I mean really, what were they thinking?

As I’ve said before, I think the US primary system is nuts anyway. But that’s not a reason to screw it up even further.

5 Comments

  1. 31 May 2008 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Go, Harry!

    My head spins tryimg to follow the ins and outs of the arguments at this point, but the nub of the gist is just as you state it. It’s devolved into a lose/lose situation.

  2. Harry
    31 May 2008 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Well, the only fair solution would be to hold those primaries again.

    In practical terms, I think that, although it’s a very tight race, Obama has effectively already won (and did so some time ago). It would take a freakily bizarre result in Florida and Michigan to change that and it would be very hard to justify running the votes again.

    So if I was the party I would be looking for whatever compromise would lead to the least bad feeling after the event, and hoping desperately for enough superdelegate endorsements to allow Obama to be declared the winner as soon as possible.

  3. 1 June 2008 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    I kinda like your system of voting, Sherry; the only thing I don’t like is all the BS that goes along with the campaigning. There seems to have been so much sexism and racism involved (and much analysis of both) that, if I was there, I would have switched off to both candidates (Hilary and Obama, that is)long ago. And the money that’s spent on these campaigns – oh my goodness; surely there would be better places to spend those amounts of money.

    No live candidate campaigning, I say (if you’re even remotely interested in an Aussie boy’s opinion anyway, lol) – just an advance notice that selection would be required by a paper ballot, all to be completed within, say, one month.

    Then, it’s on to the vote for President…

    :-)

  4. 2 June 2008 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Although the results are the same for each state (a big, dumb mess), the situations are actually quite different, and as should be expected, Florida’s is really ugly. I really don’t see it as a case of the Democratic party trying to disenfranchise anyone.
    Florida’s state government is heavily Republican, and it’s the state government who sets the dates for primaries. At first–at least a year before the actual voting date–Florida was excited to bump up their primary date. Then the national Democratic party said they’d be penalized for that, so they tried to move the date back to what it was originally. The Florida state government said no, their Republican governor said no, and the national Democratic party said, “we don’t have a choice but to stick with the penalties; we have rules to follow.” It’d be nice if gigantic organizations were capable of recognizing rules problems ahead of the actual problems, but the final choice Florida gave the Democrats boiled down to “change your rules mid-game, piss off the country” or “don’t change the rules, only piss off Florida”.
    Since this little nutbar of a country I live in only seems to learn after doing something horribly wrong, I think we’ll begin to see some streamlining of our election system now. There are some changes in that direction, although they won’t come quickly enough to avoid having November’s election be another mess.

  5. Harry
    2 June 2008 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like a classic example of everyone blaming everyone else. Perhaps the question is: why did the Democratic party ever decide that discarding a particular primary was an appropriate penalty?

    Obviously they didn’t make that decision because they were trying to disenfranchise people: presumably they thought the threat would be enough to make the states toe the line. But the threat shouldn’t have been made in the first place. It’s not terribly democratic, it’s punishing the wrong people (the voters), and just from a PR point of view someone should have had enough foresight to say “if this goes bad, it could go catastrophically bad”. Hanging chad bad.

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