Saturday, January 19, 2008

Taking Sides

So Michigan had their primaries a couple days ago. There seems to be a bit of confusion over whether or not the plural is called for in this case - the Democratic National Committee decided that Michigan won't have any delegates at this year's nominating convention, because they wouldn't play by the rules. Both parties have rules that bar any sort of binding primary or caucus before February 5th of an election year. Hence, Super Tuesday. The Democrats make exceptions for Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, while the Republicans make none. On the other hand, the Democrats have refused to seat any delegates from states that vote or caucus early, while the Republicans only take half away.

I understand the desire of the national parties to keep control of their primary schedules. It makes perfect sense. But the simple fact that half the states in the country have their primary on the very first day that they won't be punished for says volumes about the importance that the early contests have taken. Here in Washington, we've come to expect that out primaries/caucuses (we have both) are going to be largely ignored, coming as they do after Super Tuesday. The candidates appear to have come to that same conclusion - they were out here early, farming Microsoft Millionaires and other factions of the moneyed class for donations, but we haven't seen hide nor hair of them recently. Now, if there isn't a clear winner for one or both parties as of the mega-primary, you could expect that to change, but no-one's holding their breath.

But back the point. The DNC leaned on the candidates to not campaign in states that voted early, and Senators Obama and Edwards didn't even put themselves on the ballots in Michigan, and people weren't even allowed to write their names in. But I want to know why the candidates are taking sides in this. Michigan, like Florida, pushed their primary forward because they felt they didn't have a voice in the process. Iowa and New Hampshire, especially, are fiercely protective of their go-first status because it makes their states both important in the process, and on the receiving end of millions of dollars. (Washington state should call over there, and see what our money has purchased, just out of curiosity.) But someone who's running for President of the United States shouldn't play favorites, especially when they don't have to. It's not like the DNC was going to block someone from being nominated, just because they stumped in Michigan. And Senator Obama, of all of them, should know better. A big part of his platform has been about cutting the pork. Well, what is pork, if not one state attempting to benefit at everyone else's expense? If he's already willing to help certain states hold on to advantages over others, that seems like a bad start.

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