Sunday, May 25, 2008

nice to live in a democracy eh?

I blogged about what I thought were some bad arguments Hillary supporters making before:

But how about this argument: The Obama camp is so intent on stressing the rules of the DNC, particularly the ones that currently disallow Florida and Michigan from counting becuase of their too early primaries, and even more particularly, if that could make a difference to superdelegates-many of whom simply vote for the one they think will win. See e.g. Obama's compromise position of allowing the states in but mandating they split half and half as a symbolic gesture.

So why not be even more strict with the rules?

Namely, why not invoke the (basically true) argument that most states do not require their pledged delegates to vote for whom they pledged for nor does the DNC require them to do so. technically, it seems, all delegates seated may vote for whomever they want-regardless of who won the votes in the primary that put them there! Indeed, if this is the case-Obama does not really have much of a lead-since nearly all the pledged delegates could vote for whomever they wanted to. Hillary has been stressing that pledged delegates were up for grabs since at least March. True this would use the rules to the point of making the entire primary election process irrelevant but after all-wouldn't that be the rules that all parties agreed too?

Indeed, if I didn't know better, I would say that arguing the Florida and Michigan votes should count-(in order for people to stress the rules) and then invoking this argument about the technical rules of pledged delegates would be a brilliant strategy. All the Clinton campaign need do is to agree the rules be followed (which would look like a generous concession at this point)-then go after his pledged delegates! Sneeky.

Both of these bad Hillary arguments are linked by the same theme and the same flaw.

The theme is that they both point to is that in any dispute, the party whom the rules help (assuming the rules are clear) will stress the importance of the rules, and the party that the rules hurt will stress that rules were only created to create fairness, and that rules must be set aside when they are unfair under the circumstances. The flaw is that both arguments ignore those circumstances.

The one arguing for Florida and Michigan to count argues the rules must be set aside so "the voices of those states can be heard. In the previous post I mentioned that this argument overlooks that its not just the rules that would be offended by the

The one trying this new argument, then points out how even if the rules are so important, and that the Obama campaign, who would invoke the rules with regard to Florida and Michigan, would of course be loath to invoke the rules allowing every delegate to vote for whomever they want.

The problem with the first argument, that Florida and Michigan should be counted against the rules, is that it ignores the facts that counting Florida and Michigan is unfair becuase of the ways those elections were conducted. Counting the delegates there gives an advantage to Clinton candidate who did not to campaign in Florida or have his name on the ballot in Michigan. Clinton agrues that this was his choice-but in fact-it was the rules that made it not his choice. It isn't the rules themselves that make it so unfair to count Florida and Michigan-its the facts those rules created.

Similar is the problem with pledged delegates. Insisting on archaic rules allowing delegats to vote for whomever they want to and disregard the entire primary process does indeed invoke the rules. But it ignores the facts-the facts that that disenfranchising not just tow states-but the entire voting population. The fact that both candidates campaigned in reliance on the fact that those pledged meant something.

The party has made huge mistakes with its rules. Obviously the rules should force whomever the pledged delegate has pledged for to vote for that person. Obviously the rules should not have been used as a penalty against Florida and Michigan's voters-who had no real hand in the date the primary was set. (there are plenty of other ways of controlling the ever incrementally earlier primary disease-like having all states-including the spoiled New Hampshire and Iowa- simply agree to have all the primaries the same day so as no state would gt more or less attention). But the key when rules are bad is to look to the facts to provide...and the facts seem to support Obama. (note to DNC-the other key when rules are bad is to correct them for next time)

Hillary may still try to offer as a fact that she has won the popular vote-but that's still in dispute (due to the question of counting Florida and Michigan and the impossibility of counting caucus goers).

I will be the first one to admit that the Hillary campaign does seem to have some strong ways of confusing that issue ("do you want to follow the rules or don't you? hmmm?")-and if she has enough clout among party elites-it seems like she could still win this thing-even if she pisses off everyone else in the process. Indeed, if she is somehow able to establish that she won the 'popular vote' it would seem then we are in a real pickle-with rules allowing pledged delegates to choose whomever the want-and facts which support both candidates' claims to the nomination.

By the way-to those republicans thinking only the DNC could be so screwed up-I bet a bundle that the RNC has similar rules about their delegates being able to technically vote however they want. Also I would point out that in the general Electoral college system, nothing stops the electors from not voting according to which candidate selected them. In fact it happened in 2000 and many other times-and it hasn't yet made a difference -but what if it did? It is ironic that this all started with two states wanting to get more political clout and on based on the conventional wisdom, which held at the time that only the early primaries really mattered as candidates would drop out quickly. This attempt to inflate political influence over other states and gaming of the political system has not only hurt those states-it has now has brought attention to the flaws in our entire electoral system.

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