Bryan Joiner

Why then I

Tag: hillary clinton

Howard Dean Miscalculates Again: The Nightmare Scenario

I liked it when Howard Dean was named chairman of the Democratic National Committee. With the party in shambles, I thought Dean’s enthusiasm would help bring the party together, and it did. This year, the Democrats fielded some of the best Presidential candidates in recent memory, and it was under Dean’s watch.

But Howard Dean will do what Howard Dean does, and we’re getting quite close to a disaster of his making. If, as he mandates, the Democrats must have a nominee before they reach the Denver convention, it will almost certainly involve delegates from Michigan and Florida, the two states the DNC stripped of their delegations when they moved their primaries up to January. With Hillary – who “won” the two states — and Obama running neck-and-neck, these phantom delegates could very well decide the next President of the United States. Figuring out what to do here, especially because there’s a Clinton involved, could make Florida 2000 look like a tea party. At least Bush vs. Gore was an ideological fight. This would be Democratic cannibalism. It cannot happen. And here’s why it might.

On Meet the Press this morning, they laid out these possible scenarios:

a) Not seating the delegations;
b) Re-voting/caucusing on the DNC’s dime;
c) Splitting the votes proportionally along the national popular vote lines;
d) Seating the delegates for Clinton.

Now, “d” would seem to be the most implausible, given that it would go against what would seem to have been the rules, and “a” seems increasingly unlikely given the closeness of the race. That leaves “b” and “c”, but those choices are flawed-slashed-doomed as well. Given Obama’s strength in every Democratic caucus, including today’s Maine caucus, the Clinton camp will fight “b” tooth and nail. And given the increasingly likely possibility that superdelegates, who seem to tip in Clinton’s favor, could make up Hillary’s margin of victory, “c” might be doomed. If Obama wins the popular vote ever so slightly, and hence has a small lead in pledged delegates, option “c” would hand the race to Hillary while handing Florida to Obama. That would look pretty bad. All of which brings us back to “d”, a fundamentally unfair solution that would seem to solve two smaller Democratic problems: Hillary would win Florida, win the delegates that otherwise put her over the top so that the superdelegates would then be confirming the results of the national popular vote. Of course, this would create the unbelievable, cataclysmic problem of having an illegitimate nominee, which would probably doom Hillary in the general election. But here’s my fear: Howard Dean, not knowing how to manage this, will be bendable by the Clinton machine. And actually, this looks increasingly like the only way Hillary’s going to win this thing. And if the Clintons know how they can win, they’re going to try.

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Independents in New York: WTF?

Subtitle: “A Non-Partisan Political Rant”

I grew up in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, voters registered as Independents can vote in the Presidential primary of their choosing, and this always seemed to be an eminently reasonable way of doing things. The goal of the political process is to include as many people as possible, and this allowed voters who didn’t identify with either party to vote for anyone they felt like in the primaries. Unsurprisingly, I knew many Independents, and may have been registered as one myself at one point, I’m not sure.

(I do know that I launched my one and only ill-fated contrarian campaign for Mitt Romney against Ted Kennedy in 1994, but that was more of trying to show that I was an independent thinker in what I considered brainwashed Massachusetts. Young and foolish. Let’s move on.)

In New York, this is not the case. Independents cannot vote in the Presidential primaries. I was talking about this with a friend last night, who said that the logic behind it was likely an attempt by the parties to prevent any “gaming of the system” by, say, preventing independent Democrats from showing up and voting for a bad Republican candidate. The Web site Daily Kos recently advocated this strategy against John McCain in Michigan, encouraging Democrats to vote for Mitt Romney, and I’m rather disgusted by the whole affair. (You can’t make a name off complaining about the dirt in politics and then start throwing it yourself, the same way you can’t complain about the arguments made by a certain group of football fans, then start making them yourself). I think these fears are overblown: it doesn’t happen very often, and when it does, the faux electorate is opening up a Pandora’s Box by messing with the will of the people. Everyone stands to lose and almost no one stands to gain.

Still, that’s the law here in New York. Yet I know many people who are registered as Independents, likely because they don’t want to be classified as “belonging” to any political party which they don’t believe in wholeheartedly. For most of the elections here, that’s basically saying that they want to be kept independent of the process, instead of the Massachusetts ethos, where you independently choose where and when to enter it. My boss, who is more or less a pacifist who’s registered as an Independent, came in asking, “Did Hillary win New York?” I told him, “Of course,” and he answered, “That’s bullsh*t.” While I am an Obama supporter, my response was, “You don’t participate, so you have no right to complain.” And he doesn’t.

Let’s look at what party registration really is: it’s filling out a little box on a piece of paper. Even if you want to be registered as in Independent on principle for the long haul, it would take less than one minute to change your registration to vote in the Presidential primary. This campaign’s been going on for more than one year, so there was ample warning for this change. City residents can print the form here, and non-city residents can do it here. Then you send it in the mail and a little birdy sends you a confirmation a few weeks later that everything is changed. Ta-Da! You can switch from Democrat to Republican to Independent and back to your heart’s content (since originally posting, I have found out that a lot of this is not true). You can alternate parties by month, or based on the Knicks’ record. You can do whatever you want. You’re beholden to nobody. You’re independent to choose whomever you’d like to vote for (which always includes the option “None of the Above.”) An independent voter who actually gets to vote — what a concept!