Further Thoughts on Yesterday’s Compromise

While most Democratic leaders see yesterday’s deal as a positive accomplishment, there continues to be considerable nonsense coming from the Clinton camp. I’ve already discussed the deal, and the reasons why Michigan and Florida did not represent valid results, in several previous posts. At this point I will just quickly comment on the major spin heard on the morning talk shows today:

Harold Ickes is arguing that the rules committee overstepped its authority in giving Obama delegates. There are two different versions of this complaint. One is that they gave Obama four delegates which Clinton supposedly won, and the other version is that Obama should not receive any delegates at all as he was not on the ballot.

Michigan and Florida were not valid primaries and therefore Hillary Clinton did not win any delegates. Obama was not given four of Clintons’s delegates as Clinton won zero delegates in both Michigan and Florida. The vote which did take place did not represent the wishes of the voters of either state as many did not vote after being told that the votes would not count. Even Hillary Clinton had initially supported this view.

The Democratic Party had no choice but to arbitrarily divide up the delegates. The Michigan compromise was the easiest to go with as the state party, dominated by Clinton supporters, were pushing for it. It would have been just as valid to award Clinton zero delegates, which might be justified as it was she who violated earlier agreements. Obama had the votes to achieve a 50:50 split and but wisely went for this compromise for the sake of party unity, even though it gave Clinton more delegates than she deserved (or would have won if there was an actual primary).

In response to the protests from the Clinton campaign and her supporters, some are now saying that it was pointless to offer any compromise as the Clinton supporters would only be happy if they got everything, regardless of how unfair and undemocratic their demands are. While true, the reason for compromise was to win over the remaining superdelegates, not necessarily to satisfy the Clinton camp.

The Clinton supporters continue to claim that they are leading in the popular vote, but that is both untrue and irrelevant. There is no meaningful popular vote total when we have to mix the authorized primaries, the two unsanctioned primaries, and many caucus states where there is no popular vote comparable to primary votes. While the popular vote number is meaningless, Obama still leads if all the votes are counted. Even if there was a legitimate count of the popular vote, this would remain a poor argument as the nomination is based upon winning delegates. If the nomination was based upon the popular vote, Obama would have conducted his campaign differently to increase his vote in states where he had an overwhelming majority.

Perhaps the most absurd comment of all came from a conservative claiming that the big winner was the Supreme Court. An analogy was made between the Democratic Party settling the delegate count and the Supreme Court deciding the 2000 election. The difference is that there was no valid vote for delegates in Michigan and Florida and it fell upon the party to settle the issue. In contrast there was an election in Florida in 2000 which should have been settled by a fair counting of the votes, and not by the Supreme Court blocking a recount authorized under Florida’s laws.

The big loser might be the Democratic Party unless they can resolve the issue of primary order for the future. This settlement will only give more reason for states to think they can get away with moving up their primaries and ultimately have them more or less count. The manner in which Clinton conducted herself will also give more candidates reason to ignore any party sanctions out of fear of placing themselves at a disadvantage. Early primaries give an advantage to the front runner if nobody campaigns. A future challenger in Obama’s position might see no choice but to campaign in such states to avoid the situation of a future front runner receiving an unfair advantage as Clinton has this year.

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