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Friday, April 25, 2008

The "Rules"

Many of us out here talk about the Democratic Party Delegate Selection "Rules." But, how many of us who talk about them have actually read them, especially those who condemn Hillary Clinton for making her stand in state after state. You can find them here: DNC Delegate Selection Rules

Despite many loud claims to the contrary in the media and from Clinton opponents:

1. There is no Rule "agreed to" by the candidates, but there is a Rule imposed by the party which prohibits a candidate from campaigning in a state that violates the early primary rule: Rule 20.C.1.b. Candidates did sign a pledge not to campaign in FLA and MI, including television ads.

2. There is also evidence that Obama may have violated that pledge or Rule: Obama's national television ad plays in Florida.

3. The DNC Rules do not call for or mandate a complete loss of delegates for holding an early primary; they call for a 50% reduction in delegates and alternates: Rule 20.C.1.a and 20.C.4. (Yes, I realize the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee may choose to impose greater sanctions: Rule 20.C.5.)

4. Even if a state changes the democratic primary date to an impermissible early date, according to the "Rules" that state should not suffer any penalty at all if it is shown that the change was a result of a "state law" and that the Democratic leaders took all positive steps and acted in good faith to oppose that change in state law moving the primary date: Rule 20.C.7.

Of course we all know that the Florida State Legislature is 2-1 Republican and that it has a Republican Governor (Jeb Bush). Let me know how the Dems were supposed to stop the maneuver by the Republican majority to move the date to an impermissible date.

5. You will also find among the party "Rules" many are fond of talking about that any ruling or decision by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (the committee which chose to impose the death penalty on Michigan and Florida voters) may be appealed to the National Convention in Denver. In other words it is provided for in the "Rules" to challenge any ruling by the committee, including its decision to disenfranchise the FLA and MI voters. It is the Convention that is the final rule maker. Rule 23.D.

6. You will see nothing in the "Rules" which calls for ignoring the popular vote as an indicator of a candidates support.

7. You should also know that Obama voluntarily removed his name from the Michigan ballot; and, he did so in a blatant (albeit successful) attempt to pander to the voters in Iowa (and notice the dates on these articles):
Michigan, Iowa and the Games the Politicos Play
Off the ballot in Michigan

There simply is no DNC rule that a candidate must remove their name from the ballot in a state with an impermissible early primary or caucus. So of those so inclined, yell all you want that Obama wasn't on the ballot so we can't count the votes in Michigan. The "rules" do not support your, pardon me, Obama's, position. In an act of political pandering Obama chose to remove his name from the Michigan ballot. It is fair to say then that he must live with his decisions, good or bad in the end, after all he is running for the presidency. Because he voluntarily chose to remove his name from the ballot due to political pandering that fact certainly should not be used to support an argument that Michigan voters should be disenfranchised. Obama did it to himself.

8. People can accuse Clinton all thay want about the rules, but I believe it is the height of hypocrisy for anyone to run a self-styled campaign of "inclusion" and then turn around and say "don't count the votes."

Hillary Clinton will follow the Rules as they were written and adopted. And, just like Obama, she will use the ones that help her case. She won't ignore the Rules or break them; she will use them, just like Obama. Now that the Rules are known, Obama's arguments seem to be less genuine and much more political.

2 comments:

pdrez said...

A much-needed post to outline the rules that we often discuss but that none of us fully know.

Clinton is being framed as a "do anything to win" type of candidate, when in reality this post clearly shows that she is well within her right to demand that Florida and Michigan be counted, and within her rights to continue drumming up the fact that she won in these two states. The media rarely talks of a scenario where these states are counted, which would completely alter the entire shape of this race. Of late MI and FL haven't even been incorporated into the conversation. This makes Clinton's argument to the people and to the superdelegates that much more difficult. If the "rules" conversation was not pure surface analysis, and we were all discussing them in the detail they deserve, Clinton's perception would perhaps be transformed from a 'sore loser' character to one who has a just cause to get these voters enfranchised.

As the post claims, most people have surely not read the rules or read detailed anaylsis of the rules. It seems that right now the conversation is like this: Florida and Michigan broke the rules and none of their votes should, or will, be counted. It is not this simple. Points 3, 4, 5and 7 underline this:

The DNC does not have to strip the two states of all their votes, only 50%. If 50% were counted, Clinton closes the gap that much more. When considering point 4, a 100% sanction seems all the more harsh. Regarding Florida, a 2-1 Republican majority imposed the state law to move the primary date up, and what measurement is there that Florida Dems did not 'properly' oppose this? Or that they did not "[act] in good faith" and take "all positive steps?" The rules do not list any quantifiable measurement of what fulfills these obligations, so they are seemingly at the Committee's discretion. The DNC has wiggle room here, and even if the Florida Dems did not make a good enough case, the Committee should favor enfranchising hard-working Floridians rather than punishing Democratic lawmakers that evidently did not "act in good faith" to the DNC. It is all in the DNC's hands now. Do the right thing here, people.

Point 5 makes it clear that Clinton has the right to take this all the way to the convention in August, and should. She is justified in appealing the disenfranchisement of Florida and Michigan voters by the DNC.

For Michigan, point 7 is spot on: Obama did it to himself. He pandered to Iowa and perhaps it paid off with victory there, but the Michigan vote should be counted as is because he elected to remove his name, no one forced him to. He should have to live with the results. Man up Obama. Nowhere in the rules does it say he should have removed his name, and don't act like he did it to follow the DNC, he did it to appease Iowa and NH voters.

The bottom line is that Florida and Michigan should be counted as is because both candidates didn't break any rules (well, maybe Obama in FL with his national TV ad), the voters certainly didn't break any rules, but these parties are the ones who will suffer. And American democracy will suffer because of a power-stubborn, ridiculous, self-aggrandizing Democratic National Committee who sees their own rules as more important than the people's votes.

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