For seven years now, many Democrats have cycled between smirking self-righteousness and apoplectic incontinence regarding how the votes were counted in Florida during the 2000 Presidential contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
Bush won the initial count and every recount, both official and forensic, conducted in the contest. Yet Dems still claimed it was the greatest tragedy in voter disenfranchisement since handicapped gay female slaves were denied the vote in a Mississippi poll tax incident back in 1921.
When Dems didn’t win in Florida, accusations that the election was stolen due to uncounted mystery votes (there might be a few dozen votes somewhere just waiting to be found, if we only gave someone time to manufacture the ballots) were followed by snide bumper sticker whines. “Bush was selected, not elected.” “Let’s not elect him in 2004 either.” “Redefeat Bush”
But above all, the mantra since 2000 has been “We must count every vote and every vote must count”. In fact, some votes might need to be counted two or three times, if that’s what it takes for the Dem to win.
Well now it’s the year 2008 and Democrats have their own chance to count votes in a Florida election they control entirely, and what do you know, suddenly its no longer important to count every vote. Heck it’s not even important to count every million votes.
Instead, the same Democrats that once held up a few “hanging chads” as the lynching of Democracy in America, have now decided that millions of Democratic primary voters should not have their votes counted simply because their state leaders dared to pick the date of their primaries without regard to the proper political pecking order according to the national ruling elite.
In both Florida and Michigan, veritable truckloads of votes, cast by the idealistic party faithful, will be thrown into the garbage can. These votes are real, from two of the largest and most influential states in the country, cast with clearly discernable voter intent — and apparently irrelevant to the self-declared guardians of universal enfranchisement.
So please, can we be spared hearing the Democrats whine about “counting every vote” in any future elections? The hypocrisy is sickening.
The disenfranchisement of Florida and Michigan is a Draconian act of political bullying being committed by the national party over an indefensible prejudice: they don’t like day Florida and Michigan chose to hold their Democratic (but not democratic) primary elections. According to the national leaders, protecting the status quo as always, only a few states, such as New Hampshire and Iowa can vote early enough in the election season to have much effect on the final outcome. The other states, including all the major states like Florida and Michigan, have no right to matter that much. They just need to shut up, relax and enjoy it while the 1.4% of the population that lives in Iowa and New Hampshire picks who everyone else can have as their Presidential choices.
The fact that Iowa and New Hampshire have voted first in the past is purely a historical accident. It is not a Constitutional dictate nor a divine imperative. They just picked election dates that were earlier than those picked by other states.
But these contests being early is now part of the system that the national candidates have learned to game and they don’t want it changed. Americans in Florida and Michigan and California and every other state have as much right to pick their own election date as Iowa and New Hampshire. But the national party leadership fears change and the possible loss of power that comes with it. So they have banned other states from choice in the dates of their elections.
Our Presidents will continue to be picked by tiny New Hampshire and Iowa, whose people, like Tibetan monks able to divine which baby has received the soul of a departed Lama, evidently possess some sort of superior and supernatural ability to detect into what human vessel the spirit of democracy has chosen to dwell.
This system doubtlessly violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. It’s one thing to have states voluntarily and freely decide to hold elections on different dates. It’s another altogether to have most states be told, under penalty of disenfranchisement, that only some states have the right to vote first. The Parties may technically be non-governmental organizations, but in reality they are institutionalized in our election laws and the real-world effect of these rules is to give more power to the votes of some Americans than to others. Primary elections should be brought under direct legislative control or else the parties should be banned from selecting candidates for the general election and the ballots designed around individual candidates without mention of any party. A free and fair open primary, uniform for all, would be preferable to the system we have now.
State leaders in Florida and Michigan, understanding the interest of their citizens lay in overturning the current silly system, dared to move their election dates. So now their votes will not be counted equally. At first they were told none of their votes would count. Now the party has compromised and said that the delegates from these states will be seated at the convention, but they will each be given only one half of a vote. Think of it as “the two and a half fifths compromise” – a modern sore on the butt of what used to be democracy.
The same party that brought us the much vaunted “Count Every Vote Act of 2005” has now corruptly settled upon the “Count Every Other Vote Act of 2008.”
How can this be justified? Are the people of Florida and Michigan just half-human? Did they cast half-votes? Do they just have half the rights of other Americans?
No. They are just victims of a half-ass system and should return the favor in November when they half-heartedly decide to stay home.
And in case you think I am talking smack on behalf of the Republican Party, let me explicitly say that the national GOP has no more right to dictate primary dates favoring one state over another than does the Democratic Party.
The two parties have become an extra-constitutional system of electoral gatekeepers, whittling the choices of true democracy down to a few well-connected players acceptable to the national elites.
The real-world effect of this arcane private pre-election is intolerable.