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Yet Another Opinion — Why Now?
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Yet Another Opinion

Digby weighs in on the mess that is the Democratic Party candidate selection process in Democracy And Democrats.

I really wanted to like this, I did. Things were going so well and the situation in Florida was presented accurately for a change and then this:

In a campaign that looks like it’s going to cost a billion dollars, I think the money can be found to hold new primaries in both states. Since neither of the candidates campaigned in the first round neither should complain. It’s not cheap, but it’s doable. Chris Bowers (who also believes that supedlegates [sic] should represent their constituents) suggests that the Florida delegates should be seated as is and offers some solid reasons as to why that makes sense. But since legitimacy is a problem with this whole thing and I’ve heard talk of “marching in the streets all the way to Denver” I think we can assume that seating those delegates in a way that would tip the results is a non-starter. So, I’m for a new election. It’s not that difficult.

She doesn’t see the problem. We’ll just wave a wand and have an election. Everyone will be happy.

The difficulty is that many of the over 4 million voters who were Democrats on January 29th are no longer Democrats. The difficulty is that many of those who remained Democrats want nothing to do with the national party. The difficulty is the new election won’t be legal in the state of Florida until after the convention meets to select national delegates, a process that is already well under way because of a lack of time. The difficulty is that none of these people spoke up for the Democratic voters of Florida when it might have made a difference, but now that there is a problem for their candidates, they decide that maybe the DNC was hasty.

Screw you, one and all. We are stuck with that miserable amendment because of what you did, and it may well be a very long time before the national Democratic Party wins anything in the state of Florida.


1 Steve Bates { 02.15.08 at 12:27 am }

Digby doesn’t miss very often, but she’s off the rails on this one. Perhaps it would help if you wrote her. If that doesn’t work, and you need to organize a writing campaign to get her attention, put up a post and we’ll be there.

2 Bryan { 02.15.08 at 12:48 am }

You can’t save these people from themselves. Those who are talking about a new primary want to resolve the problem caused by having two candidates running neck-and-neck. The voters in Florida have absolutely no interest in helping the DNC with its problems.

The entire Florida primary was naked Republican politics to get a low Democratic turn out to pass Amendment 1, and they got what they wanted. We have to deal with that, so the Democratic Party can pound salt and accept the loss of Florida.

3 hipparchia { 02.15.08 at 12:50 am }

i had the same reaction. i already like and admire digby anyway, and i was thrilled that someone smart and level-headed and with a national voice finally “gets it.” except that she doesn’t.

the national party may or may not get it, or even care, but if they want to get the vote out, and get and keep democrats, they’re going to have start both caring about and understanding what’s happening at the state level.

way back when this foofaraw started, i had originally said i was going to go and re-register as an independent the day after voting in the florida primary. the only reason i haven’t done that yet is because i’m waiting to see what john edwards does.

4 Bryan { 02.15.08 at 1:03 am }

My only excuse is that my local Supervisor of Elections office is pretty swamped trying to get ready for the elections to come. We have a another primary scheduled this year, on August 29, but I don’t see the 67 local elections people being very interested in helping with snap election, and they have to provide the lists to be used in any election. It would have to be a mail-in, because you can’t just rent the 1000s of locations required for an election as well as train the people in a couple of months.

The people who make these suggestions don’t have any idea how many people, places, and things that have to come together for an election. A mail-in election would cost about $4 megabucks for postage alone. How are they going to be counted and by whom. It’s just absurd.

5 hipparchia { 02.15.08 at 1:51 am }

or else they do have some idea of what it takes to run an election, which is why they want us to do our redo on the cheap and have a few [too few] caucuses. i can just see the state of the hanging and pregnant chads learning to do caucuses in a hurry.

i’d be willing to go through with it, because i like theater of the absurd, but probably at that point everybody else would decide that yep floridians really are just too stoopid to live [or vote] and the dnc would be exonerated.

6 Bryan { 02.15.08 at 11:39 am }

At this point, the DNC needs to think how it’s going to handle starting down by 27 electoral votes before the candidates are even selected.

7 Michael { 02.15.08 at 2:02 pm }
8 Michael { 02.15.08 at 2:16 pm }

I’d be willing to write-off Florida in the general election rather than give in to petulant demands, personally. Florida did this to itself, don’t blame the DNC.

9 Bryan { 02.15.08 at 2:24 pm }

Well that pretty much ties a bow on it being a bad idea. He’s wrong about Clinton campaigning here, Obama was the only candidate who had ads running in Florida via a national media buy on CNN. However, Clinton should have removed her name from the Michigan ballot like the other candidates.

10 Steve Bates { 02.15.08 at 4:27 pm }

“Florida did this to itself, don’t blame the DNC.” – Michael

Excuse me, Michael, but Florida is not a monolith. Do your homework, my young friend: Florida Republicans did this to Florida Democrats, and I most certainly do blame the DNC for enabling the Florida GOP to gain advantage by imposing a primary timetable on the Florida Democratic Party.

11 Bryan { 02.15.08 at 5:01 pm }

This had nothing to do with the damn Presidential election, the Republicans have written that off. It was about suppressing Democratic voter turn-out to get Amendment 1 passed, and the Republicans succeeded, thanks to the DNC.

Since, you are backing the DNC, Michael, maybe you could explain why Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina weren’t penalized for violating rule 11A while Florida and Michigan were? Five states violated the rule, but only two were penalized. Then you can explain why, instead of the loss of half of the delegates, the DNC decided to penalize the two punished states by taking away all of the delegates. The rules were enforced arbitrarily, and the school districts and local governments of Florida were screwed.

If the Republicans win in November, you might want to consider the real effect of the “rules”.

12 hipparchia { 02.15.08 at 6:55 pm }

newt, from michael’s link:

You might think that as a Republican I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I do. All of us do. A tainted or “stolen” Democratic nomination has the potential to delegitimize the election itself and its outcome. And tainted victories produce hobbled administrations. Much as I might have agreed with the outcome of the 2000 general election, the rancor and vitriol it produced created divisions among Americans where none naturally existed before, irreparably damaging the Bush administration.

bush and cheney and their pnac compatriots are what irreparably damaged the bush administration, not [the well-placed] rancor and vitriol over the 2000 election shenanigans.

and that rancor and vitriol existed before 2000, newt himself was one of the prime architects, with his role in the clinton impeachment.

but then, rewriting history seems to be a gingrich specialty.

13 hipparchia { 02.15.08 at 8:02 pm }

petulant?! i’ll give you petulant, you little troll 😛

but seriously…

first, the present primary system is really poorly designed, unless of course the idea is to keep nominating power away from the people and concentrated firmly in the hands of a select few. having a few troublemaker states jumping the queue in defiance of the status quo [and whining petulantly when punished] may be an overly theatrical method of protest, and not one i would have chosen, but i’m willing to pay the price in lost delegates from my state if it brings about the desired change.

beyond that, this really was a product of maneuvering by the republican-controlled state legislature here in paradise. it’s ok if the average voter in a far-off state all the way across the country doesn’t want to follow all the ins and outs of florida politics, but the leadership of the national party is being short-sighted if they choose to pretend that such doings don’t exist.

14 Michael { 02.15.08 at 8:40 pm }

The whole thing may be irrelevant by the time of the convention anyhow, and yeah I’m not taking all the details as seriously as I would if I lived in Florida. Y’all have problems with the GOP down there, and you should blame them for screwing up the process if it’s their fault. But isn’t it precious for Newtie to come riding in to defend the democratic process?

I don’t honestly think the delegate count will be close. The Clinton campaign is in fully self-destruct mode.

15 hipparchia { 02.15.08 at 9:33 pm }

oh we do blame them, have no fear. and we’re trying to replace them with democrats, real democrats, but it’s a long hard slog because some of us are trying harder than others.

the dnc could have taken that into account and imposed the minimum penalty [removing half the pledged delegates and all the superdelegates] instead of going whole hog. or if they’re going to impose the maximum penalty on florida and michigan, they should have imposed at least the minimum penalty on the other three states that held their primaries/caucuses earlier than the rules provide for. i mean, as long as they’re going to go all authoritarian on us about following the rules….

newt gingrich, defender of democracy. my eyeballs hurt just reading that.

I don’t honestly think the delegate count will be close. The Clinton campaign is in fully self-destruct mode.

haha. you wish. i think it’s possible that the recent shakeup in her campaign management staff could actually help more than hurt. i’ll go ahead and stick my neck out and predict that this one will go down to the wire, much as the party poohbahs would hate for that to happen.

[and yeah, i follow california politics about as closely as you follow florida politics, so that one was a tad unfair of me]

16 Michael { 02.16.08 at 2:22 am }

California politics is still largely a mystery to me, having been here less than two years. Parts of the state (as where I live) are very pleasant liberal places, other parts are evidently as extreme in the opposite direction. Overall, it’s 1,000% better than Pennsylvania politics, and that may be a significant understatement. Pennsylvania might look good from Florida’s perspective, though.

17 Michael { 02.16.08 at 12:47 pm }

Just to clarify, in Pennsylvania, to be pro-choice is to be liberal, therefore Arlen Specter is called liberal. The Democratic party in Pennsylvania is conservative, and they are not pro-choice (or at least, the elected Democratic politicians at the statewide level are not).

18 hipparchia { 02.16.08 at 3:31 pm }

some of our democrats are conservative too. i’ve quit trying to keep up with them though, because my local politicians are mostly republicans.

i’d like to work and live among liberals someday, but this little part of the world is a nice spot. it seems a shame to let the conservatives have it all to themselves without putting up a fight.

as for which is worse, pennsylvania or flroida, at least we’ve never had rick santorum representing us, we might be marginally better off here.

19 Bryan { 02.16.08 at 5:42 pm }

Hipparchia, when your congresscritters have been RL Bob Sykes, Earl Hutto, Joe Scarborough, and Jeff Miller [in order] who don’t talk about other people.

20 hipparchia { 02.16.08 at 7:03 pm }

you have a point.

otoh, when, on top of those paragons, your governor has been jeb! and your secretary of state has been katherine harris and your state has brought pregnant chads into the lexicon and your county commissioners have been w.d. et al, the only way to hang onto one’s marbles is to talk about other people.

21 Michael { 02.16.08 at 7:41 pm }

Yeah, but in New York, they apparently say, you want numbers? you get numbers!

22 Bryan { 02.16.08 at 8:30 pm }

Now, Hipparchia, I’m sure a lot of county commissioners commit suicide after crawling under their house, it just doesn’t get published. It was a bit odd for a funeral director to do it, and it just made this more difficult in the “end”.

Actually, Michael I’m familiar with the lever machines and know exactly what happened. There are two sets of counters: the unofficial counters you can see from the outside, and the real, official counters that are sealed inside the machine. The initial figures from local precincts are coming from the external counters which aren’t a priority in the repair department, and the actual figures come from the internal counters after the machines are retrieved. If the “real counters” are broken you can feel it in the lever used to open and close the curtain. Actually, you usually can’t move the lever when an internal counter breaks because it jams the system, while the visible counters are on the end of the gear chain.

23 Michael { 02.17.08 at 3:32 pm }

Bryan, I’m sure there is always a good explanation for why voting machines fail. Always.

24 Bryan { 02.17.08 at 6:38 pm }

They fail because they are machines, but the lever machine in New York have been used since the early twentieth century, my grandparents voted for FDR on one in 1932, and they are remarkably trust worthy because they are so simple.

The electronic versions are “failing” because they have never been shown to work, and are overly complex.

The problem in New York is that they didn’t wait for the official count. Now that they are getting the official count, they now the unofficial count was sloppy.

People don’t want to wait; they feel entitled to the results as soon as the polls close, so they buy the DREs that promise instant gratification at the cost of accuracy. If they would wait people would still be using paper ballots and it would be harder to steal elections.

25 Michael { 02.17.08 at 11:41 pm }

Paper ballots are definitely the right way to go.

26 Bryan { 02.18.08 at 12:01 am }

Paper ballots are the only way to be sure.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if they would hire some graphic artists to design the ballots so that they are legible and understandable, but that’s probably too much to ask for.

27 Michael { 02.18.08 at 3:33 am }

The ballots they use here in California are perfectly reasonable, though I don’t really trust the optical scan reader. You have a list of candidates and you just draw a straight line to connect the arrow to the candidate (which is already drawn but broken in the center). At least this is very easy to read and use and if the optical reader is challenged it wouldn’t be hard to recount manually. Real paper ballots, at least.

28 Bryan { 02.18.08 at 1:27 pm }

My county uses the standard test format of fill in the circle together with readers that can process other tests from the school system when there aren’t elections. I kind of like that possibility.

29 hipparchia { 02.18.08 at 6:32 pm }

my ballots look like michael’s. i find them easier to deal with than the circles.

30 Bryan { 02.18.08 at 7:11 pm }

My only problem with them is that the “bubble-type” are easier to scan and there are more manufacturers of scanning equipment to read them.

I have no major objections to any type of paper ballot that doesn’t involve chads.

31 27 Stories to Read at Florida Progressive Coalition Blog { 02.18.08 at 10:18 pm }

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