Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Put foot down on Florida, Michigan

It appears all that
?liberal coddling? has gone a bit too far. Yes, the party that refuses to stand
up for itself has done it to us again ? and this time, it?s presidential.

The Democratic
National Committee and its chairman Howard Dean appear to be caving to pressure
from Florida and Michigan to let their votes in, even though they broke the
rules and paid the consequences.

Now, by giving in,
Democrats will be proving once again that they lack the backbone to do what is
right and stand up for the system we have in place, because it?s there for a


States across the
union, since the beginning of the primaries, have sought to increase their say
in the final outcome of who gets the dubious honor of representing their
respective parties in the final election. Their solution: Move their primaries
and caucuses forward on the calendar to get one of the first shots at electing
who will be the future president.

After all, why
should Iowa and New Hampshire get all the attention?? The earlier your
election is, the more say you get in who is elected. In fact, Iowa and New
Hampshire have this nasty habit of making their selections the ones the country
at-large gets to enjoy come fall ? that is, if you can call listening to 10
months of John Kerry ads ?enjoyable.?

So when Florida and
Michigan decided it would be a great idea to move their primary elections
forward without the green light of the DNC and with full knowledge that it was
against their wishes, Mr. Dean responded the only way that seemed fair.

He stripped the
states of their delegates. It may seem like rough censure for these two
starry-eyed states, but Mr. Dean?s actions were deliberate and, more
importantly, final.

Whoops.? Now,
as The Associated Press reported, it looks like Mr. Dean and the Democrats are
going to make some concessions, including mail-in votes, to allow these two
delegate-laden states come into the fold ? as if this election couldn?t drag
out any longer.

Except there is one
minor problem: We?re giving them precisely what they wanted in the first place.

With the race as
tight as it is and more than 360 delegates up for grabs in these two states,
their role would be undeniably large in determining who inevitably wins the
Democratic ticket.? As analysts project, both Barack Obama and Hillary
Clinton will fall short of the necessary 2,024 delegates, and both states could
put either of them over the top to win the ticket.? But inflexibility on
this requisite figure is no justification for allowing Florida and Michigan to
vote now, given the consequences external to this decision.

It certainly isn?t
easy to tell people they can vote but it doesn?t count, but the truth is that
when you break the rules, there are consequences.? But with Democrats,
that?s no guarantee. They are giving all appearances they?re going to back off
their otherwise strong words and making Florida and Michigan not just matter
but play a downright decisive role in who will represent the party.

Although not having
candidates reach the threshold is a reality of this dilemma, not drawing a line
in the sand now, when states are utterly abusing the primary system, would be
far worse.

Democrats have this
system of primary elections because it allows them to assess a candidate?s
strength over time.? With primaries spread out through various regions of
the country at various times, Democrats get to know their candidates and see
their strength, or weakness, in action.? But with states moving their
primary elections forward to get a larger piece of the pie, they subvert the
actual process Democrats intended in the first place.

Having the
functional equivalent of a single day of voting signifies nothing less than an
assessment of a candidate?s popularity on that particular day, as opposed to a
lengthy electoral process, which makes the Democratic response to this issue
all the more important.

States like
Wisconsin, Texas and Ohio, all of whom played by the rules and earned their
spot in the limelight through simple perseverance, will have even less
incentive to hang around until late February and early March.? If
Democrats let in Florida and Michigan, expect these states to move their
elections forward until we have one massive ?Super Tuesday,? essentially
foregoing the process we have now.

Democrats are
hardly without options here ? though the system will likely yield to what super
delegates say, it will have to be the consequence of not having taken this
stand earlier.? Democrats need to defend this system ? if they believe in
it at all ? by making this principled stance at a difficult time for the party.

Otherwise Democrats
will find themselves stuck in a situation in which only these words will
suffice: ?Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.?

([email protected])
is a first-year law student.

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