Thursday, February 14, 2008

Giving Michigan and Florida a Voice

The Democratic Party primaries in Michigan and Florida were advanced before Super Tuesday in violation of Democratic National Committee rules. As a result, the party has ruled that the delegates chosen in those two primaries will not be seated at the national convention. Indeed, the candidates themselves agreed not to campaign in those two states, and Barack Obama withdrew his name from the ballot in Michigan. Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton won both contests. In a move smacking of deep cynicism and abject political opportunism, the Clinton campaign is now pressing to have the delegates seated from both primaries.

The party is faced with two unacceptable alternatives: seat delegates from primaries that both candidates agreed in advance were "rogue," or leave the citizens of two major states without a voice in the nominating process. There is only one way to resolve this dilemma. The state party leaders in Michigan and Florida must come up with a way to hold new primaries or caucuses, with both remaining candidates competing on equal footing. That's the only fair, democratic solution — fair to Michigan and Florida, fair to the other states, and fair to both candidates.

I support the candidacy of Barack Obama, but more fundamentally I support the democratic process. Even if these flawed primaries supported my candidate, my concern for the Party, in November and beyond, would outweigh that narrow interest. Unfortunately, short-term political advantage is the only argument on the side of the Clinton campaign's position. Indeed, Clinton's willingness to change the rules mid-game is yet another reason that I support Barack Obama.

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