09 March 2008

But those are the rules!

It's become a common refrain among Obama supporters.

Yes, refusing to seat the delegations from Florida and Michigan because those states held their primaries early may be unfair and undemocratic. But those are the rules! Everybody knew the rules before the game started. It would be wrong to change the rules halfway through the game.

Yes, having some states' delegations chosen not in primaries but in caucuses, which exclude those who can't set aside several hours on a given day to participate (that is, mostly disenfranchising Clinton's "beer track" supporters in favor of Obama's "wine track" crowd) may be undemocratic and unfair. But those are the rules! Delegates allocated by caucuses must count just as much as those elected in primaries.

It's odd, then, to hear the same people asserting vehemently that the superdelegates should be bound to vote in accordance with the popular vote, or the elected-delegate tally, or whatever, even though the party rules say they are free to vote as they think best.

By the time this thing gets to the convention, barring some weird and improbable event, Clinton and Obama will still be close to tied in both the popular vote and the elected delegate count, though it's likely that Obama will still have a small lead in both. In effect, the party will be split down the middle. If the superdelegates judge that the candidate who is slightly behind in the popular vote is more likely to win in November than the one who is slightly ahead, and vote accordingly, it will doubtless be denounced as unfair and undemocratic. But those are the rules! The superdelegates have that power. Everyone knew the rules before the game started.

And if the fight has become so dirty by then that the two camps are at daggers drawn with each other, and the nomination of either candidate would be likely to make the other's supporters take their ball(ot)s and stomp home in a snit on election day, then the super-delegates will have every right and reason to sit out the first ballot so that neither candidate wins, thus freeing the party to embrace instead the man who, after all, won the popular vote of the entire country eight years ago. That's in the rules, too. And at that point it might be the only thing that can save us.



Blogger Unknown said...

This is one of the reasons I am disenchanted with the current system. Like the open primaries. Where Republicans can vote in a Democratic primary. It's bullshit because they can sway the outcome toward whatever Democratic candidate they want to see as the front-runner against the "shoe-in" Republican candidate (McCain). Also, I am for the open primaries only because it shows how screwed up the system is.

Super-delegates? Like "Slick Willy" who would vote for his wife. Are sitting presidents super-delegates? Bush endorsed McCain.

The two-party system has got to be shelved. But what politician has got the balls to push this agenda?

11 March, 2008 16:09  

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