On Being a Winner Posted by: Dale Franks
on Tuesday, February 12, 2008
There's really one simple and effective way for people to think of you as a winner. That is to win, and keep on winning. The converse is also true. One sure way to look like a loser is to lose, and to keep on losing. Right now, Barack Obama looks like a winner, and Hillary Clinton looks like a loser. And if Wisconsin and Hawaii go the way everyone thinks next Tuesday, that'll be even more true.
General George S. Patton, in his final speech to his troops prior to D-Day, told them, "America loves a winner. America will not tolerate a loser." For the most part, that's a truism about not just the nature of Americans, but of human nature. Everybody wants to be on the winning team.
In politics, this gives rise to the Bandwagon Effect. people tend to vote for the winner, because of the natural human desire to be on the winning team.
That's what makes Hillary Clinton's "firewall strategy" in Texas and Ohio so risky. And, as an aside, why Rudy Guiliani failed utterly in Florida. Once a candidate is fixed in the electorate's mind as "the winner", that candidate tends to take a larger and larger share of the vote. While the partsans may not be swayed, uncommitted or independent voters tend to break for "the winner" across the board.
Going into TX and OH on 4 March, Obama will have won 14 of 22 states on Super Tuesday, then an unbroken stream of 9 states in the weeks thereafter. Unless Clinton has a larger group of committed voters than both the uncommitted and Obama voters combined, the chances are that she will lose those states.
So, Clinton really needs to pursue another strategy as a backup, which is to try and get the Florida and Michigan delegates seated. Needless to say, Barack Obama is a madman if he consents to that. Hillary won big in those states, and it would put a lot of delegates in her pocket.
Nevermind that she signed a written pledge not to seat those delegates, or to campaign in those states, due their breaking of DNC rules for primary scheduling. As far as she's concerned, that signed pledge is about as relevant as the Munich Agreement, or the treaty to secure Belgian neutrality. It was an easy pledge to sign when she was winning. But, that was then. This is now. And now is all about winning, any way she can.
For Obama, any suggestion that those delegates be seated should be anathema. First, because those votes took place when the electorate was in a particular state of mind, at a particular point in time. A time when the mood of the electorate wasn't as firmly in his favor as it has moved in the interim.
For him, the least risky strategy is to fight against their being seated, by arguing that:
1) The elections are invalid on their face. Since the candidates pledged not to give credibility to those elections, and didn't campaign there, the elections cannot be a trustworthy reflection of the electorate's will. without campaigning and organizing in those states, the voters were not given the opportunity to be properly informed about the candidates, and the candidates were not able to organize their campaigns in those states. Moreover, knowing that the elections were pointless, some voters probably decided to stay home, and other voters may have cast ballots differently than they might have if the election results would have counted. Had those unusual circumstances not obtained, the outcomes of those elections might have been radically different.
2) It was well-known ahead of time that the DNC scheduling rules were being violated. Specific rules had been put in place, along with appropriate penalties for violating them. Everyone knew the consequences of those violations, and so the state parties of those states more or less intentionally disenfranchised their voters. Abandoning those rules now would amount to an ex post facto approval of that rule-breaking, and would make it much more difficult for the DNC to have their rules followed in the future.
The compormise position, which follows from the above—which would be slightly more risky for Obama—is to agree to a do-over. Let those two states have another primary, and honor the results of those elections. That would enfranchise the Democratic voters of FL and MI, but, more importantly for Obama, capture the mood of the electorate now, when he looks like a winner.
In doing so, he can argue that a) it would eliminate the disenfranchisement that the state parties intentionally inflicted on their electorates, while at the same time, b) upholds the DNC rules that invalidate the original primaries.
If Hillary Clinton continues to try and seat the current delegations, he should hammer her hard on it. Take her to task for violating her signed pledge, and ask why anything Hillary Clinton says can be trusted if she's willing to back out on her pledged word when the going gets tough for her. Ask if we want a president who can't be relied upon to sand by her commitments.
If push comes to shove, then, he can agree to a do-over vote, which, in all probability, will award him significantly more delegates than the original primaries did. Indeed, he might actually win those primaries.
I suspect that fear of that outcome will make Hillary Clinton push to seat the original slate of delegates. Which, in turn, will give Obama an opening to pound her mercilessly on her integrity.
In the nicest possible way, of course.
Obama may not have locked up the nomination yet, but, no matter what the Clinton camp says, it's white-knuckle time for them. Losses in TX and OH will essentially doom her campaign. Even worse, thanks to proportional representation, she not only has to win, but to win big in those states. A more or less even split of the delegates doesn't really help her.
So, she really does have to pursue a fallback strategy of getting those delegates from MI and FL seated, even if it means marching into Federal Court, and Obama will have to oppose it.
I anticipate with relish, however, the delicious irony of Obama and the DNC having to go into a Federal courtroom and argue in favor of Bush v. Gore to support their position.
One small correction; it isn’t the state party’s fault that the primary wa moved up in violation of party rules.
the primary in Florida is held by the State of Florida, and is held in accordance with Florida law. The legislature moved the date up, not the party, and the alternative would have required the state party to foot the bill for the election...not at all cheap in a state the size of Florida.
As I recall in 1972 Hubert Humphrey agreed beforehand that California was a "winner take all" state, then after he lost to McGovern, Humphrey mounted a challenge to get his proportional share of delegates.
There are a lot of ’72 echoes in this election year. It looks like another peace candidate is picking up speed to win the nomination against party stalwarts, but I doubt Obama will lose the election by a landslide, if he loses at all.