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Michigan, Florida show problem with primaries
Submitted by Kevin Wuzzardo on Tue, 01/15/2008 - 9:06am.
I have finally found a couple of states that may be less politically significant (at least this year) than North Carolina: Michigan and Florida.
You may have noticed that news coverage of today's Presidential Primary in Michigan has focused on the Republican candidates. That's because the Democratic vote won't count. The same goes for Florida.
In an attempt to make a statement about how messed up the primary/caucus system in America is, political party leaders in the Wolverine and Sunshine States last year moved up their primaries ahead of Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, as mandated by the Republican and Democratic parties on a national level. The parties decided that only a handful of states would be allowed to hold their primary or caucus before Super Tuesday. So when Michigan and Florida thumbed their nose at a system that gives a disproportionate amount of influence on largely inconsequestional and ethnically/racially homogenous Iowa and New Hampshire, the parties struck back. The Republicans cut in half the number of delegates Michigan and Florida will have at this summer's Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN. The Democrats issued an even tougher penalty, telling the states their delegates would not be seated at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August. In other words, the so-called "Party of the people" is telling millions of Democratic voters they don't count in the process.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The primary/caucus system to help chose the leader of the free world is stupid! North Carolina's May 6 primary comes before just a handful of states and Puerto Rico, a US territory that doesn't even factor into this fall's general election. That is what makes North Carolina so powerless when it comes to Presidential powerless, and not the lack of diners in the Tar Heel State. (The diner theory is something we like to call satire and is intended to be viewed in a humorous light)
But even though we in North Carolina will vote late in the process, at least our votes will be recognized. Democratic Party leaders in Michigan and Florida are confident their delegates will be seated at the DNC because of how important the states are in the general election. But many Democratic voters there now feel disenfranchised, and well they should. The feeling is especially strong in Michigan where Barack Obama and John Edwards took their names off the ballot and where write-in votes won't be counted. A lot of African-Americans in Michigan are very upset about not having the chance to vote for Obama, the first black candidate to be a serious contender for President in history, and on the 79th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King's birthday no less. (Please forgive LA Times writer Scott Martelle for the fact error in his story about that. He tells me an editor at the paper changed the story to refer to Monday's observation of MLK Day instead of his originally intended reference to the civil rights leader's actual birthday.)
Imagine what voters in Florida must be thinking, too. After the problems with the vote count in 2000, the Democratic Party championed the cause of making sure every vote counts and is counted properly. Now that very same party has essentially told perhaps more than two million Democrats in Florida alone, including surely a big chunk of the politically mighty AARP crowd, they'll have no say in picking their party's nominee. Somewhere Susan B. Anthony and the other Suffragettes are spinning in their graves.
And so the "greatest" democracy in the world gets another black eye (or two). It will be interesting to see how the Michigan and Florida primaries will play out (Michigan could be dangerous for Hillary Clinton), but there is a silver lining for voters in those states. Thanks to a pledge by the major Democratic candidates to stay away, at least the citizenry has only had to put up with rhetoric and mud-slinging from one party this campaign season.
By: Kevin Wuzzardo