Monday, March 24, 2008

DNC inaction shouldn't penalize Michigan and Florida voters

I've read a lot of comments recently from people who think the voters of Florida and Michigan should just accept their fate, blame their state democratic party, and get over it. I disagree. The inequities of the state primary schedule is a storm that's been brewing for a long, long time. States have been trying to get a more fair and equitable primary schedule in place for decades, and the Democratic National Committee has chosen to ignore the issue.

In July of 2006, USA Today reported:
Mich., N.H. spar over primary schedule change

For decades, New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary has played an unusually influential role in choosing which presidential candidates win their parties' nomination.

Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan thinks it's time to change that. He wants to give other states — such as his own — an earlier voice in the presidential selection process.

Levin and others who favor change say small, largely white New Hampshire isn't representative enough of the Democratic Party or the nation as a whole to rate the enormous attention it gets from candidates. For example, blacks make up 12.3% of the nation's population but only 0.8% of New Hampshire's population, Census Bureau data show.

Levin's crusade, a source of deep irritation for New Hampshire Democrats, is gaining traction this year as the Democratic National Committee mulls a proposal to add a state caucus between Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus in mid-January 2008 and the New Hampshire primary in late January.

Last May, the Washington Post had this quote:
"The parties have lost control of the calendar" said John Weaver, the chief strategist for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "And not necessarily to the benefit of the American people."
And it's true. Why should certain states always be the ones that "matter"? Look at how much attention is payed to the voters of Iowa and Hampshire. I mean no disrespect to them, but do these states represent the diversity of the American people? Other states have cried out for attention from presidential candidates for years, but if the those states' primaries are not one of the first, what incentive do the candidates have to spend their precious time and money traveling across the country to spend time there?

This is an issue that Howard Dean and the DNC knew about. It is unconscionable that they now penalize the voters of Michigan and Florida for the national party's lack of action to fix a broken system. In 1998, the New York Times ran an editorial entitled "A Primary Political Problem," and closed with this statement:
[I]t is obvious that only a guarantee that all states will get a decent chance to influence the nominating process is going to end the present destructive trend.
But instead the trend continues ....

photo CNN


Mauigirl said...

I agree - the whole system is a mess. I don't even understand the reason those states were penalized in the first place; New Jersey moved their primary forward and no one penalized us. I don't get it.

There needs to be some kind of deal on this - one suggestion was to half the significance of the delegates, so if Hillary got, say, 90 delegates from Florida and Obama got 50, then Hillary would get 45 and Obama 25.

I don't think it makes sense for them to be just divided 50-50 but on the other hand it isn't fair that Hillary's name was on the Michigan ballot while Obama took his off in good faith thinking it was what he was supposed to do.

I do think both states would favor Hillary anyway, and the Florida one was fair since all of the names were on the ballot. But Michigan wasn't and that is the one I find particularly troublesome.

Sue J said...

It's a mess that's been a long time coming.

What upsets me now is this: all this money has been thrown around in the primary season, and now the reason the re-votes won't happen is because it's too expensive.

Really says a lot about our priorities.

Morgan said...

They won't change it because it would take too much money to change that sign.
I've always wondered how much money each state could save by not having to change all the state billboards when they get a new Governor.

Sue J said...

They won't change it because it would take too much money to change that sign.