Can someone please explain why we are still talking about Florida and Michigan?
Don’t bother with the justifications being floated by the Clinton campaign about disenfranchisement; it’s hollow rhetoric that, as has been pointed out ad nauseam, was not a consideration last year when the rules were being written. At that time Hillary assumed she’d have the nomination secured as a Valentine’s Day gift from Democrat voters, and Barack Obama was barely a blip on the presidential radar.
Today, of course, everyone’s changed their tune: It’s unthinkable that the important voices of Michigan and Florida won’t be heard, and the Democratic National Committee will meet on Saturday to solve the problem and figure out a way to make everyone happy. (Good luck.)
What I find interesting in all this is the lurking sense of partisan entitlement that spelled doom for the two previous Democrat Party nominees.
In 2000 the Democrats took it as a given that Vice President Al Gore would ride the halcyon wave of the Clinton Administration to the White House. Prince Albert was the smart, smug heir apparent who would outpace the dopey Bush scion without so much as breaking a sweat. But things didn’t turn out as they were supposed to.
Again in 2004 it seemed that the Democrats were poised to reclaim the White House. Anti-Bush sentiment was building as missteps in Iraq began to mount and, once more a smart, smug candidate was chosen; John Kerry would flex his intellectual muscle and show George W. Bush to be an inarticulate fool. But things didn’t turn out as they were supposed to.
Now it’s 2008, and while the Democrats won’t have George W. Bush to (er…) kick around again, they are demonstrating the same kind of entitled bravado that alienated them from enough voters in the last two presidential elections to lose what they believed to be their due. That sense of entitlement has already cost Hillary Clinton the nomination, and for all of his populist chops, it may well prove to be Obama’s undoing should the Democrat Party exert too much influence on his post-nomination campaign.
You see, the persistent debate over seating Florida and Michigan delegates is exposing the Democrats as having a very poor opinion of actual voters. Judging by their actions and statements it is clear that the party bigwigs believe they alone know what’s best, and the people are merely pawns in an elaborate chess game.
By establishing rules in 2007 that, in effect, told the people of Michigan and Florida that they weren’t important, the party leadership had already disenfranchised significant numbers of those Democrats and unaffiliated voters who might have enthusiastically gone to the polls during their primaries. Instead, those who wanted to play a meaningful role in the selection of a party’s nominee had only one choice left: register to participate as a Republican.
So for the Democrats to argue that they should now pretend the rules they adopted last year didn’t really matter is to proclaim that voters of an independent mind don’t really matter. But those are the very voters that any candidate must win if he or she is to carry the election in November.
The self-centered attitude of the Demcorats shows through here because they act as if it’s all about them, ignorant of the fact that the implications of a June rules change could have repercussions back to January.
For Mitt Romney, the rules the Democrats now think are so insignificant may have played a role in my failure to build momentum on the way to the GOP nomination. A plausible argument can be made that Romney’s win in Michigan might have been by a significantly wider margin than the nine points that separated him from John McCain on January 15 if Romney hadn’t been up against right-leaning Democrats and independents in addition to party regulars.
The Romney brand was well-known in Michigan, but it is unlikely that any middle-of-the-road voters who registered as Republicans – voters who might have otherwise participated in the Democrat primary – ended up voting for Romney. Instead, those folks would have been more likely to vote for McCain, Rudy Giuliani, or even Ron Paul. Change Romney’s margin of victory in Michigan to double-digits at McCain’s expense and it’s possible that Romney could have taken a little more impetus into Florida.
And if you buy the notion that independent voters, frozen out of the Democrat primary in Florida, may have registered as Republicans in significant numbers, consider that McCain’s thin margin of victory over Romney (36 percent to 31 percent) in the winner-take-all Sunshine State contest might have instead been an thin Romney win, and we’re talking about a much different situation today than we have now. Florida, after all, was the win that iced it for McCain and that drove a coffin nail in the hopes of a number of Republican hopefuls, including Romney.
But since the Democrats believe that the GOP doesn’t have a prayer in November, and since leftist hubris believes the moderate middle is insignificant, the broader implications of their dunderheaded rules-making aren’t important to them right now.
Come November, however, the Democrats may be singing a different tune, and the election’s denouement will determine if this is, indeed, a song we’ve heard before.