I don’t usually use comments on past posts as the seeds of new ones, but this one’s bugging me. This comment from “Jh” came in on the post I did yesterday listing Nancy Pelosi’s and others’ comments on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Indiana’s voter identification law:
“The right to vote is a foundation of our democracy. American citizens who wish to vote must be able to do so.”…Nancy…tell that to the people in the states where YOUR party decided not to count their votes in YOUR primary
No. No, no, no. This meme of “Oh, how awful — look at the nasty Democrats disenfranchising their own voters!” is just too superficial, and can’t be allowed to pass without some dissection.
If Michigan and Florida Democrats want to blame someone for their delegates not being seated at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer, they need look no further than their own state capitols. National Democratic Party leaders warned both states repeatedly, for years, that bucking the party’s rules and setting primaries in January before some of the states the party chosen as bellwethers — first Iowa and New Hampshire, and now Nevada and South Carolina — meant their delegates would not be seated.
They were told plain and simple: If you break the rules, you will suffer the consequences. And they did it anyway.
In Florida, the Legislature passed a bill setting the early primary date with wide, bi-partisan margins; the same thing happened with Michigan’s bill in that state’s House, although the state Senate vote was split along party lines with the Republican majority prevailing.
And guess what? The Democratic National Committee did exactly what it warned it would do, refusing to seat the delegates.
If Michigan and Florida wanted to foment a national discussion on how the nation’s presidential primaries are run, they probably shouldn’t have mounted a kamikaze attack in an election year. A party sets rules for its own convention; you break ‘em, you lose. And if a party would buckle and not deliver the consequences it promised for a violation of the rules, every other state in the nation would look to move its own primary earlier and earlier to reap the economic benefit, political sway and media spotlight that comes with being among the earliest. It would be a free-for-all.
In fact, y’know who threatened U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. — a driving force behind Michigan’s move to an early primary — against doing exactly this in 2004? Why, it was then-DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, who detailed the heated encounter in his 2007 memoir. (There’s a slightly longer exerpt here.) Now McAuliffe is Hillary Clinton‘s campaign chairman — and wants Michigan’s and Florida’s delegates seated despite their transgression of the same party rules for which he fought so heatedly a few years ago.
So — without opining on the motivations behind and effects of Indiana’s voter-identification law, and the Supreme Court ruling that has affirmed it — I don’t see how that situation is akin to this. Florida and Michigan lawmakers of both parties played chicken with the DNC and lost, at their own voters’ expense. The blame lies with them, and with them alone.