To the DNC : Fair Warning (updated) Posted by: McQ
on Monday, February 18, 2008
I know we're hearing Democratic leaders saying that this will all work out to everyone's satisfaction. Soothing words are nice, but they seem detached from reality. There is a very good chance that the Democratic nominee will not be evident by the time of the convention (i.e. have enough votes to declare victory). That will mean that whoever is ahead, even if by one state delegate vote, will declare themselves victor. And what Mayor Wilder says below is a warning to the Democratic establishment, and especially those known as Super Delegates, not to thwart what he considers to be the will of the people:
Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder warns there will be chaos at the Democratic National Convention if superdelegates anoint a nominee who did not win the most popular votes.
If that happens, the scene at the Democrats' August convention in Denver could be worse than the unrest at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, Wilder said today on the CBS program "Face the Nation."
"You know what a mess that was," Wilder, an Obama supporter, told host Bob Schieffer.
"If the majority of the American people" voting in the Democratic primaries and caucuses back either Obama or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "and if the superdelegates intervene to get in the way of it and say, 'Oh no, we're going to determine what's best,' there will be chaos at the convention," Wilder said.
"It does nothing to help the Democrats — and if you think 1968 was bad, you watch 2008," Wilder said. If that happens, "it will be worse."
If, in fact, Democrats end up with an updated version of the 1968 convention, there is little doubt that it will greatly benefit the Republican candidate. It will be an internal version of the 'stolen" 2000 election and, it seems the criteria being established is the delegate count established by popular vote.
But I don't think it really matters who gets the nod or how, the losing nominee's voters/supporters are going to be royally ticked and put off. Whether they'll be put off enough to stay at home remains to be seen - but it is possible, especially since polling tells us that John McCain is an acceptable alternative to many Democrats.
I'm racking my brain for a scenario, assuming there is no decision by convention time, in which this all comes out unicorns and rainbows for the Dems and they are able to unite behind the eventual nominee. I, for the life of me, can't come up with one.
UPDATE: Joel C. sends this NYT piece along which further amplifies the developing rift within the Democratic party:
“It would be a problem for the party if the verdict would be something different than the public has decided,” Ms. Pelosi said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Ms. Pelosi said she intended to remain neutral, though some of her closest friends and allies in the House are publicly supporting Mr. Obama.
She said the nomination should not be decided by delegates from Florida and Michigan allocated on the basis of voting in primaries there last month, as the Clinton campaign has proposed. Mrs. Clinton got more votes in both places, although neither candidate actively campaigned there and Mr. Obama was not even on the ballot in Michigan. The party had penalized those states for holding their primaries earlier than the party wanted by stripping them of their delegates to the convention.
“We can’t ignore the rules which everyone else played by,” Ms. Pelosi said.
That's one side (and essentially the Obama side of the argument).
James Clyburn reflects a little different view:
“If I were to only reflect my state, then that may not be good enough for a national candidate,” Mr. Clyburn said. “So I think we ought to use our collective judgment to do what is in the best interests of our party.”
In other words, he approves of the idea of the Super Delegates making the decision if necessary - the Clinton argument. Clinton also argues that the 'rules' allow for the seating of the FL and MI delegations at the Convention.
Ah, what fun.
UPDATE II: Speaking of the DNC, here's the body of Howard Dean's reply to Julian Bond of the NAACP. Bond is seeking to have the FL and MI delegates seated at the convention:
Thank you for your letter regarding the current situation with Michigan and Florida. I appreciate your writing to me to express your concerns. We share a strong dedication to fighting for equal rights for every American.
As you might imagine, I have heard from many people who share your opinion and from many others who take a different position. This is not surprising as two outstanding candidates are in the midst of a highly competitive race for the democratic nomination.
While it seems that this election season has already been the longest in history, 18 states have yet to hold their primary elections and over 1,000 pledged delegates have yet to be selected. Put another way; some 33 percent of voters have yet to have their voices heard. I look forward to hearing what they have to say.
Over 18 months ago, after a long, transparent, thoughtful and inclusive process, our party adopted a system for selecting delegates to the convention. That process was guided by a concern for the best interests of our Party and ensuring that we produce the strongest nominee possible, reflective of the values and ideals of our Party. Moving forward, we intend to continue operating in a transparent, thoughtful, and inclusive manner with three key goals: first, to keep our Party united; second, to ensure a fair process so that; third, we can defeat John McCain.
In every primary and caucus that has occurred thus far, we’ve seen record turnouts and tremendous enthusiasm in support of our Democratic candidates, our Party and our values. It is manifestly clear that these voters are committed to putting a Democrat in the White House. I share that commitment.
Our nominee must have the united support of a strong Democratic Party that's ready to fight and ready to win. After seven years of Republican rule, it’s time to restore America’s greatness and put a Democrat in the White House. Every single day between now and election day, our united goal must be to ensure that we win in November and elect a Democratic president.
I deeply appreciate your concern and our strong alliance over the years in the fight for equal justice under the law.
Governor Howard Dean, MD
As Politico.com's Ben Smith says, "In other words: Stall, and hope this thing sorts itself out." The problem, however, is the math just doesn't seem to be on their side in that regard unless one of them starts taking unprecedented percentages of votes in the remaining primaries. And according to the polls, that doesn't seem likely in at least the next 7 primaries (4 of which are large delegate count states).
UPDATE III: And how is the Super Delegate count going? Well, apparently trending toward Obama, at least for now:
The current count is 189.5 superdelegate votes for Mrs. Clinton and 142.5 for Mr. Obama. But in a similar survey conducted last month, Mrs. Clinton led Mr. Obama by 204 to 99. About 8 percent of the total 795 superdelegates changed their minds over the last few weeks, as many states held their primaries and caucuses. Few delegates switched allegiance from one candidate to the other; the main changes were among the undecided delegates. Among the previously undecided delegates who now are endorsing a candidate, Mr. Obama got more of their support. Some of Mrs. Clinton’s previous supporters are now undecided.
I don’t think this can go any other way than 1968, because they’ve put themselves in this position.
The only thing missing to really make this 1968 is an unthinkable, God-Awful situation in which we really would have violence in the streets, and i don’t even want to vocalize that scenario for fear of some cosmic karma screwing with us and making it so.
Obama would have to win over 80% of the remaining delegates, so no, your scenario wouldn’t give Obama a clear win. (For Clinton, it’s over 90% IIRC.) However, if Obama does as well as you posit (unlikely), then it is almost certain that the superdelegates would mostly go his way, largely to prevent some of the nightmare scenarios people are envisioning.
However, if it’s much closer than that (say, the percentages remain roughly the same through the rest of the contests as up to now), then it’s up in the air. And yeah, either way, unless one candidate blows out the other during the remaining contests, half of the Democrats are going to be royally ticked at the other half, and that’s going to hurt them in the general election. (Not to mention all of the cash that they are using up that could have gone to the general election instead.)
I think McCain, much as I loathe him, is doing the right thing by not attacking the Democrats now: never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake. If the Democrats come out of the candidate selection process with, say, a third of the party too ticked to vote for the nominee, and then with the inevitable Republican attacks to come, it could be a losing election for the Democrats. On top of the divisiveness engendered by the nominating process, a loss could split the party, or could (more likely) trigger a "to the death" power struggle inside the party.
Even more, if Obama is chosen, and then Bloomberg makes an independent run (and he would be seen to some extent as holding the DNC banner), it could be a very big loss for the Democrats. Maybe the best thing that could happen (for the party) would be for the Democrats to nominate Al Gore at the convention.
Yes, the math has been clear for a while that the race will be decided by superdelegates, but if one candidates has significantly more votes than the other, the SDs will go that way. However, the closer it gets, the murkier it gets what the SDs will do.
I’ve been browsing through Dem blogs and notice that the tone between the two camps has gotten pretty nasty, not quite a full BDS mind you, but nasty enough that whoever is elected, Clinton and Obama will not just kiss and make up, and their followers fall into line to support the Dem ticket.
Here’s an epic pro-Hillary, anti-everyone else rant from a founding radical feminist of the seventies: Goodbye To All That (#2) by Robin Morgan that’s caused some excitement and consternation among progressives. Typically Morgan sees the election in terms of who’s the greatest victim.
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the greatest victim of them all?"
There is one solution that restores confidence in the sanctity of the process - reschedule primaries in Florida and Michigan. I know it would be on short notice. Who cares, let the people vote without the huge run-up of politicking before the vote.
Who pays for primaries? If it is local or state governments, then I think the DNC should reimburse them and just run the primaries.
That wouldn’t be fair, Rod. There were 8 Candidates on the ballot for Michigan and Florida and only a handful pulled out before those elections. Specifically, it wouldn’t be fair to Edwards, nor would you get an accurate picture of how things would have gone had this been done properly.
What makes this endlessly entertaining is that all of these stupid mistakes that were made months ago and were called out as stupid are now coming back to bite them all in their collectivist bums.
By the way, has anyone else noticed how ironic the Michigan/Florida situation is? They moved up their primaries so that their voice would be heard in the selection process, ensuring that their voice wouldn’t be heard in a year where it would have been critical if they had kept their primaries as originally scheduled. D’oh!