I propose we just all back away from the keyboard and take a deep breath. There, doesn't that feel better? Now let's talk about what's really important in this whole primary mess. Florida's Democratic voters are going to vote in a Presidential Preference Primary on January 29th. This is going to occur before the nomination is a done deal. Florida 's Democratic voices will be heard in a significant way.
The last time Florida Dems were in a position to make a significant impact on the presidential nominee selection process was in the 1992 cycle. At the Florida Democratic Party Convention, a little known hick Governor from Arkansas won a straw poll. Straw polls are otherwise known as "officially meaningless beauty contests" in the MSM. Bill Clinton took that straw poll victory and ran all the way to the White House with it. Anybody want to ask Bill if he thought it was a "meaningless beauty contest"?
So, the good news is that Florida's Democrats will have a significant voice in the selection of the Democratic nominee for President. Delegates have nothing to do with it. The candidates do not go to Iowa and New Hampshire for the delegates. They go for the momentum that can be captured from good showings. Delegates or no, the candidates this cycle will kill for the momentum going into February 5th that an impressive showing in Florida will create. The rest of this whole fight about delegates is officially meaningless.
Let's take a closer look at exactly what happened this weekend in Washington and what it all really means - or doesn't. From the New York Times:
The Democratic National Committee ... voted Saturday to refuse to seat any Florida Democrat at the Democratic presidential convention in 2008 if the state party did not delay the date of its 2008 primary to conform to the party’s nominating calendar.So, from the newspaper of record, that's what happened. The DNC "gave Florida Democrats 30 days" to conform to the party's nominating calendar rules. That's what happened - we got yet another 30 day extension to submit a delegate selection plan which conforms to the Party's rules. Nothing more, nothing less. So, let's make this deep breath number two.
The committee gave Florida Democrats 30 days to propose a primary date that conformed with Democratic rules prohibiting all but four states from holding their primaries or caucuses before Feb. 5.
Why is the DNC taking such a seemingly hard line? How about because the presidential primary system is a friggin' mess. The DNC spent considerable time and energy attempting to retool the primary process for this cycle. In belated recognition that perhaps Iowa and New Hampshire do not really represent America and the Democratic Party well, the DNC added Nevada caucuses and a South Carolina primary to the early state selection process. They then told everybody else they could not go before February 5th.
So what happened to all these carefully laid plans? Two things. First, this election cycle is the first since Herbert Hoover was elected that does not feature a sitting President or Vice President from one party or the other. In other words, we have a truly wide open race in both parties.
Second, the frustration with the present primary system reached the boiling point all over the country. Despite the delegate increase incentives in the Democratic Party, almost every state has moved their primary up to February 5th. OK, it only seems like it, but it is not far from the truth.
Florida's Republican dominated Legislature, with it's new Vice President possibility touted Republican Governor decided to go one better. The Florida Legislature passed a bill, and the Republican Governor signed it into law, setting January 29th as the date for the Presidential Preference Primary here in Florida. Yep, setting election dates is the job of the state legislature here in Florida, not the political parties.
Now Adam Smith is going to say that a Democrat introduced the bill moving the primary up to January 29. Ding, ding, ding. Give Adam the boobie prize. Yes, the Republican leadership in the legislature did find a dumber than a box of rocks freshman Democratic Senator to introduce the bill. I hope he got what they promised him. Adam, how about having your crack research team check out how many Democratic sponsored bills that did not have the full support of the Republican Leadership even got a Committee hearing? Let's put that red herring to rest. This was a Republican bill all the way.
But, but, but all the Dem legislators voted for this bill. Well, yeah. Included in the final bill was a provision to give the voters of Florida a voter verifiable paper ballot. This had to be about the number one priority of Democrats, to know that their votes are going to count. No Dem was going to vote against that. What, you think all Republicans are stupid? Let's make this deep breath number three.
Why is the DNC taking such a seemingly hard line on this issue? Not all the states are done tinkering with their primary dates yet. From the New York Times:
Committee members made it clear that they wanted to send a message to any state that might be looking to change its primary; the vote came as Michigan leaders are looking to move that state’s primary to Jan. 15.The DNC action was as much about scaring Michigan off of these plans as it was about Florida. The DNC is hoping that come the end of September, Michigan will have decided it is too late to move their primary up into January.
Now for those of you who actually are worried about their delegate credentials , um , er, disfranchising the voters, there is this from the Florida Democratic Party:
(FDP Chair Karen)Thurman suggested the penalties may be meaningless because the winning presidential nominee "will make the final decision on whether there are delegates or not.''That's right. Under DNC rules, the presumptive nominee will take control of the Democratic National Convention, including the Credentials Committee. So Florida Dems will vote on January 29th in a binding Presidential Preference Primary. At the end of the day, the presumptive nominee will have the final say on the seating of delegates.
So, get your favorite credentials holding lanyard out of moth balls. Quit bitching at each other. Take a deep breath and help us