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Whither FloMich?

May 30th, 2008 . by Andy (TANcast's #1 Ear-Rapist)

To all those political partisans currently resorting to histrionics and hand-waving: Failing to seat even a single delegate from Michigan or Florida at the Democratic National Convention is not in any way like Jim Crow laws or any other form of racist (or sexist) voter disenfranchisement.

I think this is an especially disingenuous claim to make since those who (or whose parents, grandparents, etc. ) were most oppressed are more likely to support Barack Obama than Hillary Clinton, and it is Clinton’s camp that is trying to conflate the Democratic National Committee’s punishment of Florida and Michigan for breaking their rules with slavery, Black Codes, and apartheid.

I know that the day-to-day reality of politics is said to be like making sausage, but here we have a candidate who had no objection to the Democratic National Committee’s decision to strip all of Florida’s delegates from August 2007 until just four days before the Florida primary in January 2008 (when she was polling ahead), and who then held 3 fundraisers two days before the primary despite signing a pledge not to campaign in that state.  Worse, her official change of heart happened 10 days after the Michigan primary, where she was the only major candidate who had not removed her name from the ballot.

I can no longer say “I’m happy with both candidates, despite having a preference,” because Clinton’s win-at-any-cost behavior has made me rethink just how much she is committed to making America better versus committed to being in power.

An oft-misquoted adage goes “The love of money is the root of all (kinds of) evil,” but I think if Paul had thought hard he would have told Timothy that it is really the love of power that leads to these evils.  Money is rarely an end unto itself, and I don’t think the love of comfort (another cause for greed) evokes the same sort of behavior that typifies the power-hungry.

I’ve got a longer post coming on my thoughts on the candidates, but I’ll set all that aside for a moment and focus on what I think the DNC should do this weekend with the mess that is the Florida and Michigan Democratic Party primaries.  Just my 2¢…

I’m going to start by presupposing that Florida and Michigan should be represented at the Democratic Convention, which is an ethical choice on my part based on a firm belief that representative democracy requires participation.

I also believe both states should face consequences for breaking the DNC rules, since at its core the DNC is a private club and has a right to enforce reasonable participation rules on its member states.  Seating all delegates would not only take away the incentive of states to keep to the party rules in future primaries, it would grant a lot of influent to two horribly flawed primaries, compounding the already problematic situation the DNC’s insistance on granting “party leaders” a disproportionately large influence in the outcome of the nomination process.

The DNC itself has said their own rules legally prohibit it seating more than half of the delegates, and I would tend to agree that this should be sufficient punishment.

Moving on to how I think it should be done, I’ll start with Florida, which would have had 185 delegates and 26 superdelegates.  Setting aside my misgivings about how the candidates comported themselves, all of the candidates were on the ballot so we have a relatively straightforward result with Clinton getting 50%, Obama 33%, and Edwards 14% of the vote.  Wikipedia tells me this equates to 105 delegates for Clinton, 67-69 for Obama, and 11-13 for Edwards.

Cutting both numbers in half gives Clinton about 52 delegates, Obama about 34 delegates, and Edwards about 6, who I assume would immediately become “free agents” since he released his delegates when he endorsed Obama.  The 26 superdelegates should be assigned by lot to 2 groups of 13, then one group should be chosen at random to be seated at the Convention.  Doing this would avoid the possibility of the superdelegate contingent being manipulated to favor one candidate.  Alternately, all 211 could be given 1/2 vote each.

In Michigan, due to Clinton being the only major candidate on the ballot I think the situation should be handled differently.

Michigan had 128 delegates and 29 superdelegates. Clinton got 55% of the vote and would get 73 delegates, while “Uncommitted” got 40% of the vote and would get 55 delegates.

I have real issues with the validity of this primary. Exit polls that asked Michigan primary voters both “whom did you vote for” and “whom would you have voted for if all candidates were on the ticket” indicated Clinton had the actual support of about 46% of the voters to Obama’s 35% and Edwards’ 12%.  In the months leading up to the primary they seemed to be polling at about 44%, 23%, and 12%, respecively, though even those polls were bound to be affected by Edwards’ and Obama’s withdrawal from the ballot.

I am not a fan of the power superdelegates have in this process as I don’t think moving the actual election results so far away from truly democratic representation is good for the people who make up the party.  It seems to me that seating “Uncommitted” delegates would be little different than increasing the number of superdelegates, so I don’t see this a a valid, fair solution.

I would propose reducing Michigan’s representation to 78 total delegates, but seating ALL of Michigan’s 29 superdelegates (opposed as I am to the idea of them) to symbolically represent the “Uncommitted” vote and to account for the fact that the popular vote was essentially unfair to voters and to candidates other than Hillary Clinton.

Thus would leave 49 other delegates to divvy up, and I believe these should be issues on the basis of the exit poll data, which ought to better reflect the actual will of the voters. If I understand Michigan’s rules, the fact that Edwards failed to get 15% would mean the only recipients of delegates would be Clinton with 28 and Obama with 21.

All told, my breakdown would give Clinton 80 delegates, Obama 55, and Edwards 6, and would add 42 superdelegates to the total.

I think this is a pretty fair way to accomodate the will of Florida and Michigan while still punishing them for breaking the DNC rules and at the same time accounting for the utter mess that was the Michigan primary vote.

One Response to “Whither FloMich?”

  1. OG Steph Says:

    Did Andy just quote the bible??? My head hurts.

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