Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Now that's what I call...democracy?

From today's New York Times:
Republican candidates were traveling to California for a debate Wednesday evening at the Reagan Presidential Library. While most of the attention in Florida was on the Republicans, Democratic voters gave Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton a victory in a virtually uncontested race. The Democratic Party had stripped the state of its delegates as a punishment for moving its primary earlier in the year, and the leading candidates refrained from campaigning there.

To be clear, I'm not a fan of all the primary-upping shenanigans. This sort of calendar game produces its own set of undesirable political effects. Nonetheless, it seem to me that stripping states of their convention delegates is an awfully undemocratic response for a society that so champions, and persistently wages war in the name of, democracy. And I gather this response isn't confined to Florida. It happened in Michigan, too, which similarly moved its primary forward. Between uncounted ballots, malfunctioning voting machines, so-called superdelegates, and an increasingly shady primary system, I'm genuinely worried about what's happening to democracy in these United States.


Anonymous said...

1.) I agree with you that there is need to worry but the state of democracy within the US these days. . . . But:

2.) I have to wholly reject your analysis that the refusal to seat Fl and MI’s delegates is evidence of said deterioration of democratic practice. When a state party knowingly violates the DNC’s sanctioned calendar and does so with full knowledge of the penalty that will ensue in light of doing so, how it is it undemocratic for the DNC to then follow through with the promised penalties for said violation? To my mind, this decision was grounded in a system of rules and reason-giving that is completely democratic in tenor. It was FL’s decision to break rules and doing so resulted in the punishment that they knew would incur if they did.

Sure, let’s talk about how democratic institutions in the U.S. are withering by the day . . . but let’s find some actual evidence thereof.

More to the point: Hillary and co. signed the pledge agreeing with the enforcement of this rule along with all the other candidates. There sudden spin to name this “voter disenfranchisement” is just their best attempt at trying to change the story going into super Tuesday away from their trouncing in SC. We didn’t see them raising hay post-MI.

Ted Striphas said...

As someone who tends to play by the rules, I'm inclined to agree that the DNC was obligated to make some kind of sanction--especially insofar as FL and MI could be said to have disenfranchised voters in states with later primaries. That said, I find it odd that the answer to voter disenfranchisement is further voter disenfranchisement. That seems rather undemocratic--and paradoxical--to me. I'd be curious to hear what other forms of redress, if any, could have been proposed.