In an article titled "Will Dean Cost the Dems Florida?", article author Tim Padgett clearly articulated every problem that the current Democratic National Committee under Howard Dean has created and gotten itself into up to this point. I'm going to quote a number of paragraphs from that article, but let me lead off with this one first.
[Howard Dean], along with the other sage bosses of the DNC, has left Democratic voters in what is arguably the nation's most crucial swing state feeling dissed, disenfranchised and, it now seems, disinclined to back whomever the Democratic candidate is in November.You got that right. The self-righteous hypocritical bastards "in charge" of the DNC decided that they would punish both Florida and Michigan for moving up the date of their primary elections. Florida moved up to January 29th. Why did we move up? Because Florida, with over 18 million citizens (fourth behind California, Texas, and New Your) and 27 electoral votes got tired of being over-shadowed by New Hampshire, with less than 1/10th our population (1.3 million) and four, yes, count 'em, four electoral votes.
We got some serious Big Buck issues to contend with here in Florida. We've got a booming population, hurricanes (in 2004 and 2005 no less than four passed over Orlando where I live, and we are inland), a fire season second only to California in destructiveness, tornadoes, and tourists. (Note to European tourists: this does not include you. Please visit often and bring lots of €uros). What has New Hampshire got? Hell if I know, but they only pop up once every four years on the political radar when it comes time to pick a new president, and the conventional wisdom is that if you don't win New Hampshire then you don't win the presidency. Well folks, recent history shows that in 2000 and 2004, if you didn't win Florida (and Ohio) then you didn't win the presidency. New Hampshire is just one out of 50, and a pretty damn small and inconsequential one at that. In the end they didn't help decide squat.
But I digress. Tim writes so much better than I, so let me continue to quote what he so pointedly reported.
Then there's the question of all the prodigious Flori-dough. Prominent Florida Democratic donors and fundraisers are now threatening to withhold or seek the return of hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars from the national party if at least some of the state's delegates are not reinstated.And these are the fools you want in charge of the executive branch? I don't know who are the bigger bunch of fools; the Republican conservatives like Rush Limbaugh who would rather see the Democrats take the White House because "... the country will suffer with either Hillary, Obama or McCain, I would just as soon the Democrats take the hit ... rather than a Republican causing the debacle," or our fine group who are so splendidly and consistently incompetent "Dem-witted" Dim-ocrats?
Those risks were already apparent when Dean and the DNC made their original fateful decision. Last May, Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the state's GOP-controlled legislature — fed up with what they call an absurd presidential primary process that gives small states like Iowa and New Hampshire inordinate clout — decided to leapfrog Florida's primary from March to Jan. 29. The move violated Democratic as well as Republican party rules, but many if not most Florida Democrats also supported it. Still, the DNC ruled that all 210 of Florida's Democratic nominating delegates would be annulled. It exacted the same draconian punishment on Democrats in Michigan, which moved its primary to Jan. 15. The DNC also allowed Iowa, New Hampshire and other small, early-primary states to force Democratic candidates to pledge not to campaign in Florida or Michigan.
Dean has consistently argued that the integrity of party rules is at stake. But that seemingly principled stand rests on shaky ground. In a New York Times op-ed article this week, Michigan Senator Carl Levin and Debbie Dingell, a Michigan member of the DNC, pointed out that one of the perennially pampered primary states, New Hampshire, also broke newly established party rules last year by defensively moving its own primary to an earlier date — and the DNC allowed it. Even discounting that apparent hypocrisy, Florida Democrats insist that the moves by their state and Michigan should have indicated to the DNC that the rules were antiquated and flawed, and therefore required some flexibility. "I detest this ruling," says U.S. Representative Robert Wexler, Barack Obama's Florida campaign director. "This should have been a wake-up call to the party that the primary system needs to be more representative and democratic."
Either way, the DNC's lack of foresight is astonishing, even more so now that Florida and Michigan have rejected the idea of costly and less than reliable primary revotes. After all, the Republican National Committee annulled only half of Florida's GOP delegates — a more measured ruling the DNC could have mirrored. And while Democratic rivals Obama and Hillary Clinton couldn't set foot in Florida in January, John McCain and his Republican competitors campaigned there and scored valuable face time with Florida independents, with McCain even winning the endorsement of the popular Crist. Despite all that, Florida Democrats campaigned with cardboard cutouts of Clinton and Obama and then turned out to vote in record numbers for the primary election, which was remarkably blooper-free by Sunshine State standards. All the while they were convinced that in the end the DNC would never shut out their delegates, especially with Clinton and Obama running neck-and-neck into the spring.
Their simmering frustration now is beginning to boil. "None of this makes sense to me," says JoAnne Bander, a Democratic activist in Miami and a Clinton supporter. "I feel completely disenfranchised. How can they dismiss the turnout we produced and keep treating Florida as if it were some marginal consideration?"
Perhaps because Dean and the DNC painted themselves into a corner. They can't easily lift the Florida-Michigan sanctions after all the authoritarian chest-thumping they did last year. Yet if the party heads into Denver without a clear nominee — and needing the votes of Florida and Michigan to decide the issue — their peremptory action will seem even more ridiculous, making the leadership of the so-called people's party look like a clique of arrogant patricians thwarting the popular will.
What's worse, Dean and the DNC now look all but AWOL when it comes to resolving a mess they did so much to create, leaving it to the states to figure it out. Nor have Crist and the Florida legislature been much help after they were the ones who led the state into the primary rebellion in the first place. (In this week's poll, Florida Democrats lay equal blame on Dean and the Florida GOP.)
With any hope of a revote in either Florida or Michigan all but dead, the candidates themselves aren't helping to resolve the mess they too helped create by going along with the DNC. Clinton accepted the DNC ruling last year when she was the front-runner; but now, because she won the Florida and Michigan primaries but trails Obama in the delegate count, she's the earnest champion of voters like Bander. She backed the idea of revotes in Florida and Michigan; but this week rejected a compromise solution offered by Democratic state Senators in Florida that would take the GOP tack and reinstate half the delegates (giving Clinton 63 and Obama 42) and perhaps divide the other half equally between the two candidates or divvy them based on the popular vote that has so far been tallied nationally. Clinton insists instead that short of a full revote, all the Florida and Michigan delegates must be counted and seated as they stood in January.
The Florida compromise was also rejected by Obama, who didn't even put his name on the Michigan ballot in January. Otherwise, not surprisingly, he is keeping sheepishly quiet — and a bit unpresidential — about the whole thing, looking to many as if he is simply trying to run out the clock by raising objections to a proposed revote in Michigan.