THE SPINE JANUARY 26, 2008
A while back I chastised the Democratic National Committee for disenfranchising the voters of Florida and Michigan because the state parties had decided to hold their primaries earlier than the Washington leadership had ordained. I know my neighbor (just down the street) and friend James Roosevelt is co-chairman of the Rules and By-laws Committee of the D.N.C. So he must at least be partially responsible. But who knows? This is goofy enough to be the doing of Dr. Dean.The Michigan primary was held on January 15, and it was won by Hillary Clinton with 55% of the vote. But, due to the diktat, she will get no delegates. The only competitors on the ballot were Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel. So her victory was not exactly impressive. Why did Barack Obama agree to keep his name off the list? He would almost certainly have won had he done otherwise. Especially for Democrats, Michigan is a far more representative state than the other legitimized early jurisdictions: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, even South Carolina. It is an industrial, unionized, multi-racial, multi-religious place. I don't know why Obama didn't run, and I think it was a mistake, a forfeit of a sure victory, a forfeit he may come to regret.The Florida primary will be held this coming Tuesday. Adam Nagourney points out in tomorrow's Times that there has been a surge of early voting, "either in person or by mail," to the tune of 350,000 Democrats, expected to rise to 400,000 by Election Day, when the real voting starts. This preliminary voting alone will turn out to be at least 4 times as numerous as those who voted in the Florida primary in 2004.Again, disenfranchising Florida is mad. It is the fourth largest state in the Union. And it is a paradigmatic state, neither red not white, swinging between Democrats and Republicans. But there are important Democratic constituencies represented: blacks, non-Cuban Hispanics, retired folk and Social Security beneficiaries from Democratic big cities in the north, Jews and university students. Again, how these Democrats vote won't matter in the tallies at the Denver convention. It's as if they did not vote, and I believe they would have voted strongly for Barack Obama. Why didn't Obama put up some resistance to the Draconian politics of his party with reference to Florida? Again, I don't know. But I suspect that he may regret this, too.