Hillary Clinton's largely symbolic win last night in the Florida primary raises some crucial questions relating to our flawed primary system. Her victory reminds me that the Clinton machine is a formidable force in underhanded, dirty politics. She claims she can start on Day One. She can certainly start cutting deals in her favor on Day One, has done so, and will continue to do so. Forgive me if I don't sound shocked. This sounds suspiciously like the same song, second verse.
In an effort to draw as many delegates to her side as possible, reports note that she will challenge the legality of the Democratic party's withdrawing delegates from Michigan and Florida, states she both won due to the fact that she was the only candidate who actively sought them. A court battle may ensue and one wonders if legal filings would result in a positive outcome for Senator Clinton. If the law ruled in her favor, one wonders then how delegates would be correctly proportioned, being that all other candidates in the race removed their names except for, of course, Hillary in Michigan--both Obama and Edwards won substantial shares of delegates in Florida. Obama and Edwards have a right to argue that the results of each primary should be null and void since they did not allocate time, effort, and resources towards winning what they considered to be useless elections.
While I disagree strongly with the draconian means by which the Democratic party punished states who attempted to leap-frog each other to get to the head of the primary line, I think that removing the say of millions of voters and effectively rendering their voices inconsequential is contrary to Democratic ideals of one man, one vote. I think taking money or diverting influence away from the state Democratic party of Michigan and Florida, thus penalizing those who put these policies into place is a much more fair solution than effectively rendering the votes of millions of American worthless. The residents of Florida and Michigan who casts their votes in the Democratic primary have a fundamental right to have contributed their say to who will win the party's nomination.
Hillary has been the only Democrat running for President thus far who has spoken out against the DNC decision. Cynically speaking, she has the most to gain from it. Obama has not and Edwards has not. One wonders whether either of them would make a position statement challenging the DNC directly, especially if it is likely that legal motions rule in favor of the plaintiff. Clinton's decision to criticize the decision is risky in that it further inflames the influential movers and shakers of her own party, who one thinks would certainly have had a broader interaction with her as well as much more experience working hand-in-hand with the Clinton campaign.
Now that Edwards has left the race and refused, at least now, to endorse either Obama or Clinton, the race is now even more wide open than it was before. It's an understatement to say that the Democratic contest was a two-person race for months, if not from the beginning, and that Edwards was a minimal factor all along. However, if Edwards threw his support behind Obama and Obama could draw in all of his supporters, he would have a formidable base to challenge her entrenched position, particularly among White female voters, who have thus far mostly turned out for her. The strategy of the Obama campaign since the beginning has been to foster a delegate fight on the convention floor in Denver, which will fall in late August of this year. Tuesday's results will shadow the larger contest and whomever picks up the most delegates by winning states will have a stronger hand.