Monday, June 2, 2008

Primary Colors

I’m an Obama supporter, but only lately come to the game. Up until the whole gas tax thing, I was perfectly fine with either Clinton or Obama getting the nomination. But that move (and the whole combined ticket thing) solidified my sense that Clinton panders too much and is greedy for power, rather than the public good.

And Saturday’s shenanigan’s demonstrated that amply. I can certainly understand why Clinton’s doing what she’s doing. But having Democratic Party members shouting “McCain in ‘08” is just plain bad for the party and the prospects for a real renunciation of the many mistakes made during the Bush years.

So, here’s a message for all the Clinton supporters (who also read this blog – surely a hefty number). First, this nomination contest is an internal election for a private organization. The DNC doesn’t need to count your vote if you didn’t follow their rules. There was no vote fraud, no manipulation. You knew going into primary booth that your vote wouldn’t count. You gambled that the state party could stand up to the DNC, and you lost. This is an apt time to use the Chinese phrase “huo gai”, or “You deserve it.” In 2000, people went to the ballot box thinking that it would. That makes this an entirely different ballgame.

Second, this whole talk about “reassigning” votes. You’re assuming that people who voted for Clinton support Clinton, and the DNC is undermining the will of the voters by giving Obama a higher percentage than he deserves. That’s only partly correct, but you’re forgetting a cardinal rule of elections. Elections are contests between the people on the ballots. So in Michigan, a vote cast for Clinton was not a vote against Obama. To have that, he would need to actually have been on the ballot. After all, the will of the voter could easily have been “Well, I can’t vote for my candidate, so I might as well vote for Clinton.”

Now, of course in Florida, Obama was on the ballot. But then, it wasn’t an even contest. From all the elections that my organization has looked at internationally, there emerges a simple rule. When you can’t campaign, name recognition wins. And at the time, that clearly went in Clinton’s favor.

Democratic elections (small “d” ones) are hard. They require a lot of different elements to be balanced and respected: campaign time, equitable access to fundraising, equitable positioning on the ballot, etc. You can’t pick and choose the way the Clinton people are doing and still proclaim yourself on the side of democratic elections. It then just becomes a means to obtain power, and that’s exactly why Clinton turned me off.


hcduvall said...

There's a really interesting, dangerously unfiltered little chart running on the nytimes front page right now, regarding the percentage wins for Obama/Clinton in the primaries.

On a post-related note, I think you know but I'll say it again, Clinton lost my respect (I admit to having decided to support Obama fairly early on) when she did the "we'll trust what he says and say he's christian" dumb ass line.

Chengora said...

That chart is really interesting. I wish they had kept it on longer.

I'm a little disappointed with the whole "Clinton won the popular vote" thing. It involves some disingenuous counting on her campaign's part.

I don't think she should be VP. It sends the wrong signals, and Obama would be much better picking someone like Richardson or Biden. But, he could easily announce that she'll be secretary of health and human services, labor, or commerce. That might give her a prominent position to pursue her objectives and still appeal to the section of the public that really likes her.

hcduvall said...

Richardson. I like Biden a lot actually, but a governor of a western state, hispanic is a better choice. They're both good choices though. And Richardson makes a good choice for a cabinet position too. In real politik talk, he flipped to Obama early for a Clinton supporter, so there's that.

I don't think any old cabinet position is enough. Clinton better start doing her part to patch things up too, because right now nothing short of VP or secretary of state is a good enough nod to her fans. Which is too bad,because she'd be much more effective/influential running the Senate.

HoBs said...

eh. obama got too much credit for the gas tax thing. yes, he was on the right side of the issue, and hillary sounded awful when George Stephanopolus caller her on it, by asking, 100% of economists think it is a dumb idea, how do you defend it, and hilary was forced to give a dumbass response.

So obama right after that supported a windfall profits tax on oil companies. This is another option that 100% of economists think is a dumb idea. Yet Obama goes right on pandering.

hcduvall said...

considering McCain is for that windfall tax as well, that puts Obama ahead on only 50% pander.

Chengora said...

I have to admit, McCain is really pandering a lot more now. He's switched so many of the positions that I admired him for before. Things like detainees rights, tax cuts, gay marriage - it's not like he was out in front on all these issues, but he was a lot better than, say, Rick Santorum. But with his reaction to the Supreme Court ruling, his flip-flop on tax cuts, and his pandering to the Republican religious base - well, he's certainly making the appropriate electoral moves. I'm just not sure how far that will carry in this election/political environment.