If you haven’t heard by now, the Democratic National Committee ( DNC ) punished the state Democratic parties of Florida and Michigan for attempting to move up their primaries by denying their delegates a seat at the Democratic convention. In effect, this deprives those states of having a say in who will be the Democratic nominee. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a former Edwards supporter who now supports Barack Obama for President.
After taking action, the DNC moved to prohibit candidates for the Democratic Nomination for President from taking part in campaigning in those states, attending state conventions and the candidates complied and agreed.
The first problem is that this disenfranchises the Democratic electorate in both states from having any say in who represents them in November. The Republican National Committee also punished Florida, but they were more sensible about the punishment. They cut in half the amount of delegates awarded by Florida’s primary. The punishment of Florida’s Democrats is problematic and unfair in general because the movement of Florida’s primary was effected by the overwhelmingly Republican state legislature and Republican Governor, so it wasn’t even the fault of any part of Florida’s Democratic Party that the primary was moved. The DNC punished innocents for the actions of other actors.
Move forward to the dates of the primaries. More Democrats in Michigan and Florida voted for Hillary Clinton than any other candidate. Hillary made a controversial appearance in Florida at midnight on the evening of the primary literally one second after the ban on appearances in Florida ended in order to try and bask in the ‘victory’ she had there. That is troubling in a number of ways. If Hillary was ahead and about to win the nomination as many expected a few months ago, there would be no issue and she and her supporters would not be complaining about what the DNC did to Michigan and Florida. She had nothing to say about this issue other than that she respected completely the decision by the DNC until Obama won a few of the early states. We don’t know what would have happened in Florida or Michigan if Obama and Edwards and other candidates had the opportunity to have campaigned there. Hillary is the candidate going into this race that has the most name recognition, so in the absence of any campaigning by anyone, she would be expected to win.
Regardless of some questionable tactics by Hillary and her campaign, we Democrats have a serious problem here. I lived in Florida for over twelve years before I moved back to New York. I love my former senator Bill Nelson, Chairperson Karen Thurman, state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Representative Kathy Castor and everyone else out there. I don’t want my fellow Democrats in Pinellas County where I lived, among other places to be disenfranchised. We have to come up with a solution. More accurately, the DNC and Howard Dean have to step in and come up with a solution that is as fair as possible to everyone and they need to do it now before this gets any more contentious and saps any energy from the Democrats in these states from campaigning and turning out in November. If they don’t do it now and we move forward to a possible brokered convention, as contentious as those normally are, those delegates could be reseated at the convention by a variety of deals or parliamentary acts and could then hand Hillary the nomination. If that happens at the last minute in a brokered convention that has the potential to split the party anyway, I see a fatal blow struck to the ability for Hillary to unite the party in November.
If the delegates are NOT reseated and Obama wins the nomination, I think he has massive problems winning Florida. If he wins the nomination with a delegate count that is so close that those delegates from Florida and Michigan could have made a difference, he also could have problems uniting the party in November and lose a lot more states that he could otherwise have won.
The DNC and Howard Dean MUST step in, show leadership and implement a fair compromise. What they should do is get together with representatives from both Hillary’s and Obama’s campaigns and hammer out a compromise that all parties agree to respect. I’m guessing and suggesting that perhaps we agree to seat half of the delegates from each state as the Republicans did. If we get to the convention, both Hillary and Obama must agree not to seat or accept votes from any more or any fewer delegates than those to which they agreed under any circumstances. Then we can all put this issue to rest and go forward.