Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

OK, people, here we go again! All you're gonna hear about (at least from the Clinton faction) is that "every vote must count". You'll be hearing about disenfranchisement of different segments of the community and how the sanctity of our democratic process rests on the "one person, one vote" principle. All of this because of the I-75 corridor cancellation. Michigan and Florida failed to play by the DNC rules and held their primaries early. The candidates agreed to follow the rules and not campaign in those two states. No one figured the vote (and elector) totals would be this close and actually make those two states...important. Oh well, now they are. They could be so at any time. So, really, isn't the calendar placement of each state's primary a wash? More on this later...

Essentially, the entire problem rises from the idea that the primary system unfairly boosts the importance of the states whose primaries occur the earliest. Historically these are Iowa and New Hampshire, with a few others thrown in over the years. The argument (and it's a good one) is that these states enjoy an importance far beyond their meager populations in paring down the number of candidates early in the primary races. I see nothing wrong with this but most do. The Founders did not plan on our nation being infatuated with "democracy" when they crafted our Constitution. They warned specifically against the tyranny of popular opinion. The idea that some of the less populous states might have more power than their population dictates would not have fazed them in the least. In fact that is the entire reason behind such facets of our system as the electoral college and the assignation of at least one U.S. Representative per state, regardless of population.

We are a nation of laws. That was the lesson of the 2000 debacle in Florida. The laws were violated by the Florida Supreme Court in favor of the argument that our government is a democracy. The Florida Supreme Court knelt at the altar of "the will of the people" and decided that that concept overruled the law. Even the U.S. Supreme Court failed to firmly establish the fact that this concept is unfounded. It is not the will of the people-in the form of a popular vote-that decides our governmental makeup. We are a republic, not a democracy.

The rule in the primary system-and I would be happy to entertain arguments that the entire primary system is wrong and serves to do nothing but maintain the power of the two dominant political parties, but that argument is for another day-is that you follow the party and their rules for the primaries. When Michigan and Florida violated those rules, they were told their delegates would not be seated. "Well, they won't really do that", said the party faithful in those states. "They can't do that, it would disenfranchise all those voters", said the pundits. So they went right ahead and had their primaries early. They never expected them to count for much anyway, it was the principle of the thing, you know. They WILL take Michigan and Florida seriously in the next election, by golly!

Now, I understand that there is a good argument that this primary process does not necessarily give Michigan and Florida their due. But the outcome in this year's process is the exception that disproves that point. You can't have it your way every time. Now what do we have? I love the fact that this mess is stirring up dissension in the ranks of the Democrats, because I disagree with their agenda on almost every point, but it could just as well have been the Republicans who were in this mess. Then I would have been upset. Of course, with a candidate like John McCain, I'm not sure the Republicans have a candidate in the race, but that, too is another argument for another day. The point is that we didn't play by the rules, the rules were explained to us before we changed our primary dates, and we did it anyway.

Look at the deliciousness of this situation! Those people who most favor the idea that "every vote should count" and that we have a duty to ensure that no voter is disenfranchised (including felons, illegals and dead people), are actually hollering for disenfranchisement! Obama's folks think the results should stand and those delegates from Florida and Michigan should not count. He is winning without them and counting them would only hurt his position. Hillary-the only person on the ballot in Michigan-wants those votes, even though she agreed not to campaign in Michigan and (it could be argued) shouldn't have even had her name on the ballot. We all know that a Clinton is not beyond quibbling over the definition of "is", if it might benefit their political ambitions.

Watching Debra Wasserman Schultz and Debbie Dingell on Fox News Sunday this morning was so much fun! First of all, is there a congressperson any more dingbatty than Ms. Wasserman Schultz? I would put her against anybody for the least rational, most ditzy congressperson award. Thank you, people of Florida, for electing this entertaining goof! I don't watch American Idol, so I appreciate a good laugh every now and then and watching her squirm over trying to sound dignified and reasonable in debating this situation was much better than watching the latest untalented hack get reamed by Simon! In contrast, Debbie Dingell looked reasoned and intelligent! People, if a popular vote can elect people such as Debra Wasserman Schultz, is that not in itself an argument against such a system?

Obama is going to be forced to argue against seating the delegates from Michigan and Florida. He is going to argue FOR disenfranchisement! Should be fun! Hillary is going to be forced to argue that blacks and young white college students in those two states should not have a place at the table of national politics. That should be fun! What will be the compromise in this decision? What Solomon-like carving can make both sides "happy"? Is a "win-win" even possible? I would argue that it isn't, because people are under the impression that the mechanism of the vote is the same as on American Idol. The most votes wins. I'm sure most people think that is not only morally right but also technically and legally correct. Well, it ain't.

Here's a novel idea and one that you WILL NOT hear anyone arguing for; not in this age of "every vote must count", anyway: Why don't the Democrats allow the two state legislatures to elect their electoral college electors? That's the way it was originally meant to be, anyway. It would be a return to original intent. It would allow the people's elected representatives to choose the electors who will vote for their President and Vice President. Article II, Section I: "Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector." What could be more fair and true to the concepts set down in our Constitution?
Oh, wait a minute. We're talking about the Democrats, here...
Never mind.