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On Michigan, Florida, & Superdelegates: Democrats Be Democrats, or Else

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My greatest concern all along with the issues of seating or not seating the Democratic delegates from Michigan and Florida and with the now probably decisive role of "superdelegates" in the convention has not been about procedure in the primaries but about the outcome in the general election. Kerry won Michigan by just 3% of the popular vote -- less than a 2% swing would've given those 17 electoral votes to the Republican -- and Bush won Florida by just 5% of the popular vote -- less than a 3% swing would've given those 27 electoral votes to the Democrat. Although I hope Sen. Obama's calls for unifying the country are heeded, we have, of course, been living in a very divided nation for years now; and presidential elections are won or lost on the outcomes in such swing states as Michigan and Florida. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the national party's decision to not seat the delegates from those states, such actions are, only naturally, taken as a sign of disrespect, certainly not respect, by the rank-and-file Democratic voters in those states -- who were not the state party leaders directly involved in the conflict with the DNC. If that sense of being "dissed" were to result in even a few percentage points of lower turnout in the general election -- and I doubt voters who felt disenfranchised by their own party in such a historic election would be more likely to turn out to vote or to encourage others, including independents, to turn out to vote Democratic -- then it could, of course, swing the entire general election. Despite what some seem to think, it is not inevitable that Sen. McCain will lose, no matter how psychotic his lust for war or how cozy he is with big business. Indeed, hearing repeated ad nauseam in the media that he is not fully embraced by the most extreme elements within his own party because he is too "moderate" only further cements his already strong emotional ties with many independents, who frankly must be given very convincing reasons not to vote for their war hero. Perhaps the insanity of the bloodshed in Iraq and the economic hemorrhaging of households here at home will keep it from being a close general election (even too close for Diebold et al. to effect). But given the history of recent presidential elections that we should have won and won convincingly but didn't, every single vote will surely be vital. And it thus has given me great cause for concern that the Democratic voters at large in the swing states of Florida and, particularly, Michigan must only naturally be feeling disenfranchised, disrespected, and discouraged by their own party leaders -- a wound that will be re-opened up to and during the convention, particularly if this neck-and-neck Obama/Clinton horserace continues. Then toss in the controversy about whether the will of "superdelegates" will be held superior to the votes of the rank-and-file nationwide -- yet another "life or death" advantage or disadvantage for the Obama and Clinton camps to fight over -- then I can more fully appreciate the warning that Chairman Dean has given and Democrats at large are voicing. It seems to me that the best we can do at this point is to not change the rules after the "game" has begun -- not giving one candidate an unfair advantage, even though the party will thus potentially alienate Democratic voters in key states (who thus must not be taken for granted) -- but then to encourage the superdelegates to fully consider the impact of their choices upon the feelings of the Democratic voters at large, who elect many of them to office and who will ultimately decide whether or not our presidential nominee will get enough votes in the general election to overcome a more formidable opponent than many consider him to be. In short, Democrats need to play by the rules and be democratic; that is, not become what we are striving to overcome.
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Doug Drenkow is a writer, editor, webmaster, and producer. A fourth-generation Democrat, Doug has produced the political talk shows "Barry Gordon From Left Field," on radio, and "NewsRap with Barry Gordon," on cable TV, featuring top (more...)
 

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Democrats might take back the White House if we ca... by Len Hart on Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 3:57:06 PM
As always, you're a gentleman and a scholar,&n... by Douglas Drenkow on Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 5:10:18 PM
You can't just ignore the rules and seat deleg... by Bill Samuel on Saturday, Feb 16, 2008 at 8:26:03 AM
Bill, I must confess that I didn't follow the ... by Douglas Drenkow on Saturday, Feb 16, 2008 at 12:00:52 PM
The Democrats have never been an agent for change.... by John Hanks on Saturday, Feb 16, 2008 at 9:12:02 AM
Although I share many of your frustrations -- even... by Douglas Drenkow on Saturday, Feb 16, 2008 at 12:46:58 PM