Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bad ways to win

A Canadian friend I lunched with put it best...Given the near-deadlock, there are several unpleasant technical ways that the Democratic nomination could be resolved.

1) The question of whether to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates. Seating Michigan seems thoroughly unfair because Obama (and Edwards) were not even on the ballot. The choice was Hillary or Not Hillary (a category that did include Kucinich, Dodd and Gavel). Hillary won with an unimpressive 55%.

Florida is harder to argue with. There, Democratic turnout was strong and all candidates were represented on the ballot. It's a rock and a hard place. To reverse rules is unfair to Obama; but for him to win by enforcing the disenfranchisement of Florida's obviously keen voters would be churlish. It could also backfire in the general election.

2) Winning by super-delegates: True, superdelegates are mostly elected officials. But if they are the "swing vote", they will not necessarily reflect the wishes of the voters. Also, many of them--including non-elected party bosses--may feel they owe loyalty to Bill Clinton, who (despite appearances) is not a candidate.

And the solution is...Reform! I am not going to dwell excessively on this--better a clever mathematician than I--but clearly both parties will want to take a long hard look at the delegate allocation process, which according to the Washington Post was "installed with the help of Jesse Jackson and Harold Ickes (now a Clinton adviser) two decades ago" in the case of the Democrats. This comes of course in addition to electorcal college reform, electronic voting reform and other good deeds....enough to keep president Clinton/Obama/McCain occupied for at least four years.

To state the well-established obvious (pardon the arguable redundancy): it does not behoove the Democrats to wait until the August convention in Denver to settle on a nominee. That would give the Republicans a substantial head start on general-election campaigning. And it would make for a figurative bloodbath .

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