Dwight Watt - Watt Thoughts #155 3/11/2008

#155 - Democratic Party strange politics (Watt Thoughts)

Following the primaries this year it is easier and easier to understand why Al Gore is not running and harder to figure out which party is which. When Obama or Clinton loses the nomination will we hear for the next 4-8 years that the election was stolen by a few select people and that the people did not choose the winner, therefore the people’s vote did not count?

In 2000 when Gore lost the presidential election the stories we heard was that a few people chose the president and that many people in Florida’s vote did not count. The few were the Supreme Court (you would think that the Republicans had served the previous eight years instead of an administration that had Gore as number two person).

Now we are being told the credentials committee and super delegates may decide the Democratic Party nomination (maybe in Al Franken style that should be a little d instead of capital) and not the people. We have already seen one candidate get more votes in Nevada and get fewer delegates. Now there are wide predictions that the nominee may do the same overall. Al Gore has to be wondering, is that his party. He obviously could not run as a Republican so he was basically left with no party.

Now the question is coming up of what to do about Florida and Michigan (yes Florida where the Democrats have claimed 2000 election was stolen). The two states moved their primaries up early against national party rules and the national Democratic Party said penalty was no delegates, essentially saying Florida and Michigan Democrat voters you are no one and you don't count. One of the proposals is to do mail-in ballots (yes paper and the question of reading bunches of paper ballots, I would assume marking and not punching holes (do I hear hanging chads?) and not issues of trying to decide which circle or box was marked with pencil or pen).

Who is making proposals on how to handle the Democratic primary and wanting the people of Florida to count, the Republican governor. Obviously the Republicans should be helping to decide how to run the Democratic nominating method and looking out for the Democratic voters (that is said in jest, just as would be the opposite). Clinton is advocating keeping the results as were voted in January as her name was only one on the ballots and seating those delegates. They apparently did have some of a choice in Clinton or uncommitted or something like that by not choosing a name and they did vote in large numbers, but then does that sound more like an election in the “democratic” nation 80 miles south of Florida where large numbers vote and there is only one name on the ballot. Obama wants a new election. Threats of going to court on this but do Democrats really want a judge or panel of judges deciding their nominee?

How to solve this is messy. If a new election then voting in January was worthless and what will that cause in November? If results stand and delegates are seated, then can each state decide to follow own rules instead of national party rules in primaries? If another election is held, when and who pays? Should the people of Florida and Michigan have to pay for their leaders bad decisions? Or will the party get money from big corporations and other contributions to pay for the new primary (and does that violate McCain-Feingold election funding/spending law?) and what will the effect be of the perception that the Democratic party is bought and paid for by corporate interests? If done by mail how will ballots be sent out and counted?

The Republicans have avoided this by having had one person win the number needed without those states and will probably just seat the other half of delegations (the Republicans had only penalized half the delegates instead of all the delegates like the Democrats). When this rule was created everyone assumed the Democratic Party nominee would have been determined by now and the delegates would be seated.

The Super Delegates (a Democratic phenomenon) are now coming into play of possibly choosing the nominee and not having been chosen by the people. They are generally people holding elected office so they have been chosen in other processes. The question is whether they may decide the nominee which means some select people choose the winner and not the people. Why Super Delegates? They were created after the 1968 convention when everything went crazy and the follow up 1972 and 1976 conventions that some believe chose weak candidates. In 1968 one candidate was killed and you had Wallace leading the American Independent Party as a walkout from the Democratic Party (interesting enough Wallace did not walk out with the Dixiecrats in 1948 and was supported by the NAACP in his first run for governor) and the nominee chosen at the convention that featured fighting in the streets never won a primary. The object was to make party more responsive to voters and also that the party leaders could take control if needed after the next two candidates were more populist and weaker type candidates (McGovern and Carter).

This will all clear itself in the next three months and hopefully have a ending of a nominee that the entire party can gather behind and for the Democratic Party to offer their choices and continue forward just as the Republicans. Between an unpopular president, war, difficult economic times and a party in-fighting, the question of whether either of the two major parties can survive is legitimate and it may be the time third parties can really grow and blossom.

To the opening comment, I am confident that once the dust settles, Gore will actively support the Democratic candidate to the amount of time he has with his work as co-founder and chairman of Current TV and its anticipated IPO and his work on global warming. With those projects and others I suspect Gore really did not have the time or energy or desire to run for president now. If he had been involved, things may have been much different this year.



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