Saturday, December 01, 2007

Michigan slapped down by DNC

The Democratic National Committee has taken action against Michigan for scheduling an early primary to try to have some say in who gets the Democratic nomination for president, instead of ceding the decision to a few citizens of Iowa and New Hampshire as normally happens. In the face of rising national discontent with politics as usual, The DNC seems committed to continuing disproportionate representation of rural, conservative voters vis-à-vis urban, progressive voters. The candidates with the best chances of doing well in Iowa and New Hampshire are following suit, trying to knock Clinton from the lead or at least secure a VP nomination.

Democratic leaders voted Saturday to strip Michigan of all its delegates to the national convention next year as punishment for scheduling an early presidential primary in violation of party rules.

In spite of the vote, some party leaders and officials said they believed the delegates would eventually be seated at the convention.

Michigan, with 156 delegates, has scheduled a Jan. 15 primary. Democratic Party rules prohibit states other than Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina from holding nominating contests before Feb. 5. Florida was hit with a similar penalty in August for scheduling a Jan. 29 primary.

. . .

Saturday's vote further diminishes the significance of Michigan's Democratic primary. All the major Democratic candidates have already agreed not to campaign in either Michigan or Florida because the states violated party rules. And in Michigan, most of the major candidates won't even be on the ballot.

Democratic candidates John Edwards, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson and Joe Biden have withdrawn their names from the ballot to satisfy Iowa and New Hampshire, which were unhappy Michigan was challenging their leadoff status on the primary calendar.

. . .

Michigan officials defended their early primary, saying it helps provide geographic, racial and economic diversity early in the primary calendar. They also complained that other states that were allowed to hold early votes were receiving preferential treatment.

. . .

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said in a statement: ''The threat not to seat the delegates of Michigan and Florida at the Democratic convention is a hollow threat. They will be seated, and when they are, it will be plain for all to see that the privileged position that New Hampshire and Iowa have extracted through threats and pledges from candidates is on its last legs.''

. . .

With the DNC's work Saturday, the primary calendar appears to be set. The panel approved some final shifting of early contests, approving the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 8, and the South Carolina primary on Jan. 26.

The system as it exists privileges rural white voters—long framed in the media as more authentically American than urban voters or voters of color—and acts as a conservative shot in the arm at a crucial point in a heated presidential campaign to a party with purportedly progressive goals and values. But the risks of standing up to the Iowa/New Hampshire mafia and losing the nomination are apparently too great for anyone to challenge the status quo.

The only benefit I can see coming from Iowa/NH picking the nominee while the rest of us watch from the sidelines is a prediction I read in a post or comment thread the other day, I forget where. Given: (1) irrational hatred of godless communist/socialist/lesbian/feminazi Clinton among conservatives, (2) Iowa’s conservative bent, and (3) widespread belief that Clinton is far to the left of the other candidates, there is a good chance that Iowa will pick Edwards or Obama. This would give one of them a fighting chance at taking the nomination. Paradoxically, Iowa could give us a more progressive president than we would otherwise have.

No comments: