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It’s Time the Democrats Get Their Big Tent in Order

June 3rd, 2008 | by Omnipotent Poobah |


Dead DonkeyAs expected, yesterday’s post about Hillary Clinton’s campaign prompted considerable vitriol from ardent Hillary supporters. Though their complaints were numerous - and to my thinking mostly groundless - their main contention was that Hillary hadn’t been given a chance to make her case for having 100% of the Michigan and Florida delegates declared hers. I still believe they had ample opportunities to address that before the end of the campaign, they simply lost the battle. But that doesn’t mean that criticism is without merit.

As I write this, the final primaries are drawing to a close. Depending on whose breathless commentary or statement you believe, Obama will or won’t clench the nomination and Hillary will or won’t throw in the towel. The one thing we all learned from this fiasco is that the show really ain’t over until the weight-challenged lady sings.

The original problem started with the Michigan and Florida state committees. They proposed moving their primaries, but the DNC said no. Threats of yanking their votes to the contrary, the state committees went ahead anyway. This put the pressure on the DNC to “punish” the wayward states in some way lest they lose their pitiful ability to herd the “demo-cats”.

The Domino Effect
Unfortunately, they chose disenfranchising voters as the punishment. Clearly this was an inept move, but one that the committees and voters knew about and Obama and Clinton agreed to. Until Hillary recently forced the issue, no one fell all over themselves trying to correct the boneheaded error before it was too late.

Then the dominoes began falling and announcing more poor decisions with the clap of every tile. It affected the turnout in both states when some voters didn’t show up to cast a worthless vote. When Hillary decided to campaign despite her agreement and Obama didn’t campaign and took his name off the ballot, the last domino fell.

The DNC, in a move guaranteed to piss everyone off, revisited their decision at the final hour. By the time last Saturday rolled around, the damage was already irreversible. There was no way to get a fair do-over for anyone and that seems to be the way democrats are.

Democrats like to call themselves the Big Tent party and that’s a good thing.

By comparison, the republican tent is like the Cirque du Solleil with over-expensive seats and performed in front of an audience made up of identically-dressed corporate CEOs and the Jack Abramoff/Duke Cunningham/John Hagee entourage.

Sadly, the democratic tent is more of a Barnum and Bailey style. Dozens of acts whoop and holler to get the audience’s attention, but they never seem to do it without the acrobats falling into the lion ring, blowing up the the cotton candy machine, and allowing the clowns to start fires in the audience.

The Glorious Cacophony
The democratic party, in all its glorious cacophony, caused this mess and they do something similar almost every election cycle. It seems it’s only because their competition sucks marginally less that they ever win anything at all. This has to stop because an army of weak-minded automatons will win over a gaggle of feral cats every time.

My best advice to the party is to overhaul the entire structure as soon as the dust from the election settles. No more 16-year long primary schedule. No more caucuses vs. primaries vs. Frankenelection hybrids. No more differences in how each state apportions votes and absolutely no more super-delegates to act as an electoral college for the de facto state primary electoral colleges that don’t count votes one for one. Finally, the party needs to overhaul how they make decisions and then how to make them stick.

Both democracy and democratic share a key word and it isn’t chaos. There’s no way to be democratic without some clear rules and agreements to abide by them. In democracies, people work together rather than go off in a huff if an admittedly poor decision doesn’t meet their expectations. Then, they come back to correct it so it doesn’t happen again.

Resolved: Let’s try getting along for a change.

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  1. One Response to “It’s Time the Democrats Get Their Big Tent in Order”

  2. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    One criticism and one question:

    A criticism: you seem to suggest that Republicans are not a big tent party but we’ve got libertarians, Ron Paul, who votes no for virtually every bill that passes through Congress as being an unconstitutional use of governmental power and against any use of military force that is not either a repulsion of an invasion or in retaliation for an attack upon the country; neo-cons, who are Wilsonian interventionists and militarists; isolationists; social cons, who want to amend the constitution to exclude gay marriage and criminalize abortion; mavericks who regularly reach across the aisle to create bipartisan support for bills that piss off conservatives of all stripes and occasionally pass laws that unconstitutionally restrict freedom of speech in political matters; big-government cons (also known as compassionate conservatives) for whom “the government is the problem, not the solution” is anathema. That probably doesn’t exhaust the list. That seems like a pretty big tent, to me.

    A question. To set up the question, Michigan and Florida got into trouble for deciding to move up the date of their primaries beyond where the Party would allow them to. The question is this: can anyone give me a coherent defense of a system of primaries where the same state is always first, where the order of primaries are pretty much set in stone, where the same states’ primaries are almost always meaningless because the (presumptive) nominee is usually clear long before the primary season ends?

    As a follow-up question (for extra-credit), could a better system be formulated for pissing off and turning off party faithful in those later states than the one that we have now…I mean if someone were to set out to achieve that end?

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