Aging Together: So Like Their Peers, But Different Too
Guest Blogger: Linda Burnham

The Delegate Debate

The continuing debacle over the Democratic primary votes in Florida and Michigan have left Crabby Old Lady bemused, befuddled and finally, disgusted. The basic facts of the primary rules in the two states are straight-forward:

  • The Democratic Party sets the schedule for when each of the 50 states holds its primary

  • Florida and Michigan Democratic Party officials, coveting the media attention an early primary would give them, moved up their primary dates

  • The national party warned that in doing so their delegates would not be counted

  • Florida and Michigan Democratic officials changed the dates anyway

  • Senator Obama removed his name from the Michigan ballot (as did Joe Biden, Bill Richardson and John Edwards) and did not campaign there

  • Senator Clinton left her name on the ballot and did campaign in Michigan

  • Both senators’ names were on the ballot in Florida, but neither campaigned in person there

As Crabby said, until the primary days were finished in Michigan and Florida, it was simple. Since then, the American electorate has been treated to extended political maneuvering as each candidate and their surrogates offered various solutions for getting as many of those delegates as possible for themselves:

Give them all to me, said one.

No, that’s not fair, said the other.

Let’s hold do-overs, said a multitude of voices.

Can’t afford it, said the states.

We’ll pay for it, said rich Clinton supporters.

No, no, not fair, said Obama supporters.

We could split the delegates 50/50, said someone.

What’s the point of that, said Crabby Old Lady.

Amidst all this, there was hand-wringing over disenfranchising Florida and Michigan voters together with suggestions that if their delegates are not seated, Democratic voters in the two states will opt for Senator John McCain in the general election just for spite.

Could that possibly be true? Would Democrats – and left-leaning Independents – vote against their own interests like thwarted school children?

The idea of a do-over is dead now and for the moment, the Florida/Michigan delegate debate is taking a back seat to the toxic sniping between the two Democrats. Senator Clinton and her surrogates resurrected the Reverend Wright ruckus this week while Senator Obama’s side is harping on Clinton’s Tuzla fairy tale. (Crabby Old Lady doesn’t believe for a nano-second that no matter how many public appearances a first lady makes, she could mistake, even years later, a little girl’s poem for sniper fire.)

As poisonous as these episodes may be, they are only sideshows and a short respite to the delegate dispute.

The past eight years of the Bush administration notwithstanding, the United States is a still nation of laws and in Crabby’s view, rules are rules. The time for the voters to argue for their enfranchisement was when Florida and Michigan Democratic leaders defied the national party rules by moving up their primaries. It was made clear then that if they did so, the delegates would not be seated or allowed to vote. End of story.

Or, at least, that’s what Crabby Old Lady believes and it wearies her that there is more to come while the economy collapses, the war in Iraq picks up deadly speed and Vice President Cheney rattles his saber against Iran.

It is not hard to sense that the American electorate is desperate for leadership, for new ideas, for someone to right the train wreck trajectory the United States is on. It is too bad that Michigan and Florida voters wasted their time going to the polls, but they knew then the votes wouldn’t count – something Crabby suggests they keep in mind the next time the state party leaders come up for election.

But right now, we – the people – need to put that behind us and somehow convince the two candidates to give us their best thoughts on getting the country back on track.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Peggy Race tells us how her grandfather turned the local garbage dump into a special childhood memory in Feeding the Wildlife.]


Thanks, Crabby, for saying exactly what I have been thinking ever since this issue became hot. Michigan and Florida voters should, indeed, save their anger for the officials who thought they could get away with flagrantly violating the rules. The delegates should not count for either remaining candidate. And there should be no 'do-overs' since such a contingency was not considered in the beginning.

There is one other thought that comes to my mind and it isn't very flattering to Senator Clinton. She chose to both campaign in those two states and left her name on the ballot in Michigan. Why would she do that given that the primary was a violation of the rules? I think we can see why in the latest round of arguments. Because it was to her advantage to do so. And now she thinks she can win the majority of the delegates in those states by focusing on the poor, disfranchised voters in those states. The ethics, or lack of ethics, in this posture is as sickening as the self-serving nature of it. Sticking to the rules may benefit Obama; but that, at least, does have an ethical basis. Rules are rules.

I share your disgust and am most unhappy with the Clinton machinations in trying to save her position as a candidate. I wish she would give it up for the sake of the party. Her raw ambition has caused her to lose sight of what's at stake. And Obama is not helping with his responses.

It would be terrible if John McCain were the beneficiary of this cat fight and became our next President.

Perhaps the best things going for us Dems right now are Cheney's "So?" and McCain's 100-years-in-Iraq pledge.

If McCain has his way, a whole new generation will have cause to take up the ancient song, "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered..."

Surely not, surely not.

Voting nincompoops (local party people) out is not nearly as satisfying as getting one's vote; however, it appears that it will have to do.

I would like to get this straight: Ronni Bennett wrote that Sen Clinton did not campaign in Florida while Mary Walker wrote that Sen Clinton did. My understanding is that no Democrat campaigned in Florida. (BTW: A "thanks for the token of support" speech, after the fact, does not equate to campaigning since there are no votes to be had by it.)

It is all very frustrating to me. I don't know why we can't have regional primaries that vary when they come first; then it'd be about the candidates and not states getting some kind of ego boost from being first.

Regarding Cop Car's comment:

Having earlier signed a pledge with the Democratic National Party, neither senator campaigned in person in Florida.

Senator Clinton nagged Obama about breaking that pledge because he had bought some NATIONAL TV ads just prior to the Florida primary. He tried to stop their broadcast in Florida only, but was told that could not be done.

That is what happened in regard to Democratic campaigning in Florida. Both names were on the ballot.

You are so right, Ronni. I live in Michigan and voted uncommitted. Our state legislature and even our Governor, who I generally support, brought about the mess in our state. And, it disgusts me that Hillary Clinton now wants to change the rules. If she can't be trusted to abide by set rules what will she do if she becomes President? We have had too many years of a President & Company breaking rules.

Of course, I will not vote for McCain in spite.

I've read some comments elsewhere from voters in the affected states whose party leadership denied them votes in this primary campaign. They think they've been cheated and I do, too.

Thank you, Ronni, for clarifying the Florida issue.

What is inevitable is McCain in '08! Neither Dem candidate has ANY experience at anything! Wake up Dems!! It's over!!

This debacle emphasizes why I'm no longer a Democrat. The gnashing of teeth over a situation which one party dealt with well, the other horribly.

The Democratic party is being led around by the nose by radical elements that have never bothered to contemplate the knock-on effects of their proposals. Indeed, rather than bother contemplating, they simply demonize anyone who holds a contrary position.

In this case, the Democratic party has shot itself in the foot by (1) Insisting on proportional splits of delegates rather than winner-take-all and (2) Penalizing Michigan and Florida by taking all of their delegates rather than simply reducing their contingent.

Before radical changes to the nominating process are considered it may serve them well to reflect on the result of prior changes. It would help the American people to have two well-organized, competent parties, otherwise we will simply get more George W. Bush's.

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