Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What to do about Michigan and Florida

The U.S. primary process is a mess. Both major parties have created arcane and arbitrary systems to confound even careful voters and keep party insiders running the show. Each party ought to be able to set a consistent calendar for the primaries, and that calendar, considering holidays and weather, probably ought to run from, say, Presidents' Day through April each election year, all done within ten weeks. That's plenty of time, not too early and not too late, like Goldilocks, just right.

Last year, a lot of ridiculous jockeying went on, and the DNC decided to reprimand the states of Michigan and Florida for moving things up (though somehow Iowa and New Hampshire didn't get slapped for moving their contests up three weeks, so close to New Year's some would-be Iowa caucus goers were still nursing hangovers). Even Super Tuesday had to vie with the Super Bowl for attention and hoopla.

Michigan and Florida were told in advance that their votes and delegates would not count. It asked candidates not to campaign in those states, and most did not, though Clinton went in for big fund-raising events. Edwards and Obama were not even on the ballot in Michigan.

And so the DNC owes it to the party, to the process, and to the people, as in We the People, to stick to its bargain, no matter how much it made a mess of things. Don't make an even bigger mess now.

It would be terribly unfair and a SHAME for the DNC to go back on its Florida and Michigan deal. Obama honored the DNC by not campaigning in those states, and he wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. So counting those primaries now would be a travesty, a huge injustice.

I do feel for the disenfranchised voters in Florida and Michigan, and as I say, I think the current haphazard primary arrangement/calendar is a mess. But the DNC should not change its deal now. Party hurdles and delegate smokescreens are already suspicious enough -- as they so often seem to confound and even counter the will of the popular vote and thus the People.

Please settle this controversy once and for all, as I'd like to wake up and respect this election in the morning.


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