Oh the Humanity! The issue of seating the Florida/Michigan delegates at the Democratic Party national Convention in August has reared its ugly head yet again. Senator Clinton is beating the conspiracy theory drum- boom boom you guys are just trying to cheat me of my victory. The reality is considerably more complex than that.
Back in the day, The Democratic National Committee was trying to exercise a little control over the structure of the primary season. They issued a warning that none of the states were permitted to move their primary dates up front of a certain date, and that any state doing so would face the mess of not being represented at the Convention. Michigan and Florida, for some reason, chose to ignore the warning. Obama chose to honor the wishes of the DNC and refused to campaign in either state. Clinton now wants to portray this as a plot to disenfranchise the voters of the two states. Not so. When you flout the rules, the results are invalid. It's as simple as that.
The root cause of this mess is the essential concept of Presidential elections in our nation. It is not what it should be, a national election wherein the candidate who wins the popular vote gets the White House door key. No, it is a winner take all contest on a state by state basis. We already saw one of the problems that results from this structure back in 2000, when the winner of the popular election failed to win the electoral college vote. Here is another problem- state political parties jockeying for political influence by playing games with the schedule of primary elections, then whining about unfairness when their national political party calls their bluff and slaps them.
It puts both candidates in a confused mess. Clinton perceives it as one of the few remaining "straws" she can grasp in her effort to avoid defeat in her bid to gain the nomination. It's probably not enough of a straw to do the job, but try telling her that. Some have accused her of willingness to say or do anything that will get her that nomination. Untrue, she has not killed anyone yet. Obama, on the other hand, is being put into a situation nearly as bad. He is only around 60 delegates shy of the nomination as things stand, so naturally he is tempted to play tough and fight to keep the Florida and Michigan delegations out of the convention. On the other hand, he needs to win those states in the general election in November- and that becomes less likely if you deliver a slap to the voters of the states in question by running a risk of being perceived as hostile to them. He is therefore being forced to walk a tightrope over a tank of hungry sharks on this one.
Why did Michigan and Florida lack the common sense to avoid creating this situation? The Dems do have an amazing ability to shoot themselves in the foot. The Republicans on the other hand (except for an occasional yammer from the Limbaugh coterie about staying home if the candidate selected fails to pass certain political litmus tests) pretty much seem to march in lockstep and fall into line and swallow their pride and yank the voting both lever for the nominee. At a certain point there is something to be said for that. It has kept them in the White House for 20 of the past 28 years.