Wednesday, January 30, 2008

No Guarantees

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.


Karlo said...

You'll been officially added to the Swerve Left ( blog roll.

Comrade Kevin said...

Thank you so much!

chris said...

damn, why do you hate Hillary so much?

Comrade Kevin said...


Don't let me get all high-minded ideals on your ass. :-)

Hillary to me represents politics based on division, corporate interest, backroom deals, cynicism, hatred, fear, and all sorts of things I am sick and tired of in our elected representatives.

Any candidate who would use similar tactics would get the same treatment. I think that's the role of the blogger and the activist and the responsible citizen.

Dr. Zaius said...

I found this, plus the bit about the culinary union workers being allowed to vote in Nevada, kind of reprehensible on Hilary's part. Her agreements are only as valid as her agenda will allow. One might get the idea that she has learned her tactics from a neocon!

Mike C. said...

Good points, on my blog I have produced an argument for the defense of the current primary system. Check it out some time. Comment on it.

chris said...

I just watched the debate and the truth is, I like both of them. a lot. I guess my issue is that most Hillary supporters, and yes, I am one, also like Obama, while most Obama supporters trash Hillary. I'm not advocating party over principle (we've seen where that got us with the republicans) but honestly, they're not that far apart. and truthfully, I think Hillary was as idealistic as Barack back in '92, but the reality of politics in D.C. set in. that's not the same as selling out, to me. it's understanding how things can actually get accomplished. I truly admire Hillary - she has been the object of so much scorn from progressives as well as conservatives, some deserved but so much really out there and ridiculous. she's tough and she knows the terrain. I happen to believe her heart's in the right place, even if she plays politics. show me someone who doesn't play politics that's made an impact. I'm open to discussion, but my original point had to do with the fact that Obama supporters feel the need to trash Hillary. I'm a Hillary supporter who will wholeheartedly support Obama if he wins the nomination, without having to regret badmouthing him, because I won't do that. thay are both so far above anyone the republicans are offering.

Comrade Kevin said...


You make excellent points and I don't disagree with most of them.

I will certainly, though reluctantly, support Hillary in November if she were to be the nominee.

The greater point you raise as to whether or not I am a Hillary-hater or not has some merit. To me, one can only be so tolerant of the politics of division she and Bill both have fostered. I wasn't attempting to make myself into a hypocrite by using the same tactics in my criticism of her.

We humans are paradoxical beings. Take the high ground always and people will criticize you for not having the courage to punch back. Fight back, and be criticized for not taking a more diplomatic approach. Take a diplomatic approach and have people fear you are not being realistic. Be realistic and people fear you are too cynical. Be too cynical and...

Do you get my point?

I am deeply suspicious of Hillary and ultimately our own judgments are formed by our own emotional impressions. Emotional impressions are not always logical. I just don't like her. I've never liked her. She's tried, to her credit, to seem more personable but it's never made much of an impact with me.

What's not to like about Obama? Even conservatives like him! :-)

But that statement above says the most to me. I believe Obama is the most electable candidate and as I said earlier, I would cast my ballot for Hillary over a GOP or third party candidate without so much as an second thought.

However, being that the GOP is so fractured right now, nothing would unify them better than the Clinton name. Love it, hate it, decry it, the name Clinton is toxic and polarizing.

I do not want to lose another Presidential election, Chris. The odds are too great. There is just too much at stake. I hope everyone votes as if their life depended on it. I feel that strongly about this election.

chris said...

I do get your point.

I have a hard time getting past what I really do feel is unfair criticism of Hillary, who isn't pure as the driven snow, politically, because she's been there. it's easier to be idealistic when you haven't been tested.

I lived in D.C. when Bill Clinton was first elected and I remember that on his inauguration day, the Washington Times called for his impeachment over the issue of gay soldiers in the military. I felt then and still feel that the Clintons got an education in Washington politics early on, and that counts for something. he's been roundly criticized for DADT, but that wasn't what he wanted. that's what he learned he had to settle for, to get anything done.

and I will admit that I seriously would love to see a woman elected president. I've been a feminist since the 50s (yes, I'm that old) and frankly, I think men have really screwed things up, and a break from them and their ideas would be a breath of fresh air.

no offense........

Comrade Kevin said...

I would gladly support a female candidate and indeed I think it is time.

But not this female. And not this time.

I think politics lends itself easily to corruption. As you said in a previous post, the Clintons may have been idealistic upon their entry to the White House.

The criticisms any President gets are often partisan and unfair, but that seems to me to be par for the course.

I am of the opinion that a person elected to office needs to provide a new direction without the taint of Washington politics.

I, too, am a feminist. But I have seen the excesses of second-generation feminism which lends itself to parody and refuses to fix its internal problems.

One of the reasons I included the third video which incorporates a PROGRESSIVE, FEMINIST, THIRD GENERATION mindset and simultaneously criticizes the failings of the second generation was not a condemnation of women.

A generational divide between the two of us may be at play. And this goes for politics and philosophy equally.

Merely instituting a woman into elected office based on her gender is to me, a strategy that while well-intentioned, totally against the system where merit is favored above all else.

The best candidate for the job. I don't care if she's black or he's white (and I reversed the order on purpose).

Women might do things differently, but having observed people and examined power dynamics myself I know that if you flipped the genders around, women would be tempted to act in the same domineering Patriarchal ways that men do. Maybe they'd govern better but having a dim view of human nature generally, I seriously doubt it.

Chris, I think you're missing the point.

The point is that it's beyond women versus men, black versus white, or anything divisive versus anything divisive.

Like Obama himself says, "That way of thinking is old. Why would you want to work old ways that have proven ineffective or at least counter-productive? Why not go for new ways?"

My support of Obama has NOTHING to do with the fact that he and I share the same gender. Thinking that way is the same politics based on division of the electorate, and it's time to have a unified force.

I base my decision on the merit of the candidate, first.

chris said...

hey, I didn't think you supported Obama just because he's a guy. and I don't support Hillary just because she's not. I hope I didn't leave that impression.

I think the Clintons are ordinary people, brighter and more ambitious than many, but certainly not superhuman forces of evil, as many have chosen to portray them. I do not think they set out or ever intended to be polarizing; if anything they are too compromising. it's my belief that the right wing did such a good hatchet job that generations later the evil Clinton myth is accepted as fact. I don't buy it.

she has worked tirelessly all her adult life for causes that support women and children, two groups that often get overlooked in our system. my support for her stems from her activities and what I see as her beliefs, not her gender. honestly.

I like Obama too. I don't care about his or anyone's race. I just don't have much to go on with him, except he's an awesome speaker. after the past seven years, an awesome speaker would be a refreshing change.

I think everyone wants change.

I don't think we're fighting here, Kevin, but if you think we are, then I apologize, because I realize I started it :)

Comrade Kevin said...


That was certainly not my intention. :-) Maybe I'm just a little fearful of flame wars, since they happen so easily on an online setting. Without body language, vocal inflection, and context--a massive amount of misunderstanding can resort.

You have nothing to apologize for! You care passionately for what you believe in and you make excellent points to support it!

If the right wing did a good hatchet job on the Clinton legacy and skewed our perception of both of them, then it's up to us to redefine and reframe the debate in a more proper context. Hence the reason I blog. Maybe it doesn't contribute much on a larger scale, but it makes me feel better, and I have some impact on a handful of other like-minded people.

I think it benefits us greatly to have discussions like these that bring many different points of view to the table. Thus we can have a wealth of discussion while realizing that we are all Progressives and that we are all Democrats who desperately want change.

What we get hung up on at times is how we best thing change should occur. But there is much more than unites us than separates us.