Monday, May 19, 2008

Letter to the Vote Nazis

Letter to the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee, which is meeting on May 31:

I was born in Michigan, so even though I don't live there now the disenfranchisement of Michigan and Florida is rather personal.

I am aware that the legislatures of these two states scheduled these two primaries out of turn. But what is the appropriate punishment for jumping ahead in line. Is it to give no service at all like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld? The appropriate punishment is to send these two states to the end of the line, and serve them after all the other states have voted. Your meeting on May 31 would be the appropriate time to do this, and any delay beyond the last set of primaries on June 3 would be unconscionable.

I am also aware that one of the remaining candidates was not on the Michigan ballot. But I understand that he withdrew his name voluntarily. Skipping particular primaries or caucuses for tactical reasons has a long tradition. This cannot be regarded as a valid reason not to count the results of the Michigan primary.

Not counting the Michigan and Florida primaries gives one candidate an unfair double benefit. Not only is his opponent deprived of delegates fairly won, but the number of delegates he needs for nomination has presumptively been lowered to 2025.

If you can’t bring yourselves to do the right thing and just seat these delegations in accord with the primary results, I suggest the following compromise: seat the Michigan and Florida delegations but require them to vote “present” on the first ballot. If one candidate can get 2210 votes on the first ballot, that is a fair result. If not, subsequent ballots should count Michigan and Florida.

I’m sure that when the candidates agreed last fall not to campaign in Michigan and Florida, their intent was not to disenfranchise Michigan and Florida but to encourage those states to move their primaries into the DNC approved order. There are serious questions raised as to whether the DNC made a good faith effort in accord with that intent to get those two states to move their primaries. For the DNC to use that agreement now to disenfranchise these two states is not unlike what President Bush did in the fall of 2002, getting Democrats who only wanted UN weapons inspectors readmitted to Iraq to vote for an ultimatum to be used for the purpose of authorizing a war those Democrats did not support.

I know the long history of the primary election in American politics. While you had your reasons to set the rules on scheduling these primaries, these two legislatures had their reasons too, and that is to allow ordinary citizens to participate in the candidate selection process at a point where their participation matters. The political parties have always resisted this participation and that aspect of enforcing the “integrity” of the rules would do you no credit. It is not fair to punish the voters for the “mistake” of these two legislatures.

Don’t be Vote Nazis. Count the results of the Michigan and Florida primaries.

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