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.]