politics is to want something

fredag, mars 14, 2008

Notes on the Primary Process

Very quickly, I'd like to answer questions I've gotten about my opinion of the Primary process in the context of the likely scenario of a contested Democratic Convention.

As all my regular readers know, I am not a huge fan of primary elections in general, especially with the added antidemocratic practice of opening them to non-Democrats. The primary election process, promoted by liberal and reformist Democrats as a way of destroying the cartels and machines of old-school Democratic politics has, as these things tend to do, completely backfired. Instead of tightly controlled regional and urban machines, the power in the Democratic Party, as in all of American politics, flows in the form of campaign dollars. Our primary elections have degenerated along with the rest of our political process into battles based on spending power and charisma.

All of that being said, the Party has led millions of voters to believe that the primary elections and caucuses are meaningful. That's why they've turned out in droves, doubling, tripling even raising by an order of magnitude voter turnout in States across the country. We are going to need that energy in the coming general election, no matter who our Nominee is.

The worst possible thing that our party could do would be to allow Superdelegates to flip the outcome of the nomination process away from the results of the state-level caucuses and primaries. It may be legal, it may be exactly why Superdelegates were created, but it would be a horrible mistake.

And let me be clear: I think this is true no matter who comes into the convention with more delegates. There will be no way to untangle or disprove large scale feelings of sexist or racist power-brokering if party officials are seen to be responsible for blocking the first black or first female President from advancing. Let's not do that.

Likewise, I completely support efforts to find an equitable way of including delegates from Florida and Michigan, but only with some method that allows voters or caucus-goers in those states to chose from among all the candidates still contesting the election. The Clinton campaign's cynical claim that the delegations should be seated as-is is honestly laughable. However, she and others in the party are completely right that going into the general election having burned two state's worth of Democrats (one of them ever-crucial Florida) would be foolish.

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