What really didn't get heard in Florida was the candidates voices. Due to that idiotic no campaign pledge foisted upon the candidates by the Democratic Party chars in the four early states, no candidate actually got to have their voices heard by Florida's Democratic voters.
But maybe there is a way to have our cake and eat it too, Florida. Follow along and I'll explain...
I don't want to spend too much time rehashing how we got into this mess, but laying a little of the groundwork here is instructive. The Republican dominated Florida Legislature has the sole power to set election dates in Florida. The Legislature chose January 29th, knowing it was in clear violation of the delegate selection rules laid out by both parties. The parties, in turn, are in charge of their actual delegate selection process. The Florida Democratic Party looked at their options and decided to stay with the plan to select their delegates according to the early primary results. The main reason for this decision was that a primary is the method that garners the most participation from voters. Very Democratic of us, no?
This plan was the one that was rejected by the Democratic National Committee, which stripped Florida of all of its delegates to the Democratic National Convention. That's what began the mess that we currently find ourselves in. OK, that was bad enough. But, even with no delegates at stake, the candidates could not possibly ignore the largest swing state in the country, could they?
This is where it really got ugly for Florida Democrats. The Democratic Party chairs of the four early states (Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina) blackmailed the candidates into signing a pledge not to campaign in any state that violated Party rules by beginning its delegate selection process before the appointed date of February 5th. The candidates, fearing a backlash in these early states which they needed to garner momentum, all complied.
Thus Florida got to hold the strangest election I have ever seen. Florida gave an election party and nobody came - no candidates that is. The Democratic Party chairs in those four early states, jealous of their non god given prerogatives to be heard before anybody else, deprived Florida's voters of the opportunity to have the candidates come to them and make their case. That was fundamentally unfair to Florida's 3 million Democrats. But here is where it starts to get really interesting.
Senator Hillary Clinton, who won the largely name recognition contest that Florida's primary became, is now calling for the Florida delegates to be seated at the convention. Smart on her part. She would get the lions share of the delegates. Senator Barack Obama, not surprisingly, takes the opposite view. Smart on his part.
In today's St. Petersburg Times, Adam Smith is reporting:
Two prominent civil rights figures, former U.S. Civil Rights Commission chairwoman Mary Frances Berry and former Justice Department official Roger Wilkins, are calling on the DNC to straighten out the matter.
"We are suggesting that the decision be made before the convention in an effort to avoid a floor fight," they wrote in a letter released Monday. "Public floor fights have served the party badly in the past. They left deep-seated ill will and preceded Democratic Party defeats in 1968 and 1972, for example. Resolution of this issue is a matter of fairness, justice and practicality."
So let's be fair to everybody - both the voters and the candidates. Let's figure out a way to allow the candidates to come here and make their pitch to Florida's voters for the right to claim Florida's convention delegates.
Let's amend our delegate selection plan to allocate our delegates based on a caucus to be held in early April. There are no Democratic delegate selection contests scheduled between Mississippi on March 11th and Pennsylvania on April 22nd. This would allow the candidates to come here and campaign for Florida's votes and delegates. It would give Florida's voters a chance to hear the candidates for themselves and to make up their mind after getting a real chance to fully evaluate the candidates in a fair and open contest.
And as it is looking more and more likely that this campaign is going down to the wire, it would make Florida the center of the political universe - again.
Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too. Florida, let's get ready to rumble - er, caucus!