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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Primary Comes To A Close...?

As all signs point to Hillary Clinton finally bowing out of this historic Democratic Primary, I would like to take a moment to laugh loudly at all the Clintonites and media that absorbed and parroted her argument about seating Michigan and Florida delegates. She couched her argument in terms of some sort of moral standard: how could we discount the votes of those in Florida and Michigan? This is a Democracy! One vote, one person!

Of course, this is absurd and it's always been absurd. That fact that she's making this argument gives me all the more reason that I'm secure in my vote for Obama. It's a shame that she's willing to pit the voters of Michigan and Florida against the rules of her own party...all it does is make winning those important states more difficult for the Democratic Party in November. It does...almost...nothing...else.

A primary is not a pure national election, is it a party nominating process that has specific rules made up by, essentially, a very big club. The rules are wonky and often counter-productive. But if the Democrats decided that their nominee should be decided by a dart board, they could. It would not make for a smart process, but it would be completely within their rights. The fact that Florida and Michigan's Democratic leadership chose to skirt the party rules and move their primaries up is what disenfranchised their voters, and that, in the end, is not the fault of the current leadership.

Fault aside, many voters probably DID NOT go to the polls when they learned their votes were not being counted and candidates were not running in their state. That fact alone should disqualify some high-minded talk of democracy being made mock of. Clinton wants states counted that benefit her, and because no one else was on the ballot in Michigan, and because name recognition was the only SORT of running going on in Florida, she received those votes.

If name recognition were the entire contest, Clinton could have been handed the nomination at the start, and moved on. She, in fact, came in THIRD in Iowa to begin the very long process of finally giving up the ghost. When all the candidates were in the race, she didn't win. When the primary is primarily uncontested, she did just fine.

She also did well where primaries were hotly contested. That shows just how tough she is. But in the end, she hasn't won, and wins only by intellectual slight-of-hand, and that has been true for a very long time.

It's time for her to stop doing damage to her legacy, to the party, and to the Democratic Nominee. Especially with smoke and mirrors and disingenuous outrage about "counting every vote." If she truly felt that way, her own math wouldn't start counting on February 19th.

Let's hope she makes the right move tonight.

6 comments:

Mark said...

Michigan and Florida are pissed off because their votes weren't going to count/are now counting for half. It seems to me that Hillary's efforts to have those votes counted wouldn't "make winning those important states more difficult for the Democratic Party in November" at all. Those voters aren't pissed off at *her*. If Hillary was the one Floridians (in particular) were upset with, why does she lead McCain by a good-sized margin there while Obama trails? Obama's decision not to agree to a revote is what's damaging our hopes in those states, as is awarding him delegates that he absolutely did not earn.

It's also insulting to Florida voters to claim that Hillary's victory there (which polls show would be repeated today) is due to "name recognition."

"Laughing loudly" at the 17 million of us who've supported Hillary isn't a great strategy for November, nor is continuing to vilify her. Write a sincere post explaining to us, without condescension, why we should help against John McCain in the fall.*

(*Personally, I will. I always do, because I am a Democrat. But it would be nice to be asked pleasantly.)

With respect,
Mark

Freeman said...

What damaged those states was their party leadership. Obama simply followed party rules. Clinton skirts them, and then treats the party as the villain in order to gain traction with Michigan and Florida voters. It creates tension.

She didn't earn the delegates either. IF she had taken her name off the ballot in Michigan like all the other Democrats, this conversation wouldn't be taking place at all.

Clinton has worked hard to appeal to Florida voters. How is that helping the party succeed, Nationally? Suffice to say, the chances of Florida voting for McCain have certainly skyrocketed because of her behavior.

And frankly (and you KNOW I think you're the Man, Mark) why should Obama supporters have to ask nicely? Clinton has played a very risky game and now that it's time to concede, I don't see why Obama's supporters should be sending some sort of olive branch. Clinton has worked very hard to discount his victories, treat his supporters as if they aren't "hard working Americans." It's not like she ran this campaign based on some real hope of winning; she's been hanging in there for him to implode for some time. Now he's limping across the finish line, with her help.

Is NOT supporting Obama against McCain a real option for Clinton supporters? If so, she's done a tremendous amount of damage.

And I'm not "Laughing Loudly" at her supporters...just her shifting rationale, her mock outrage, and her populist tone.

Mark said...

There was no party rule that said Obama had to take his name off the ballot in Michigan. He chose to do that to a) pander to Iowa and b) because he was running a distant third and it was probably a better option than embarrassment in that state. (At the time, leading Obama supporters like Kos *lauded* Hillary for resisting that pander!)

(Also, Republicans were largely responsible for initiating the moved primaries: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wayne-barrett/could-the-republicans-cou_b_94158.html)

Why should Obama and his supporters ask nicely? It's called being gracious. It's what Hillary did when she defended Obama against Bush's attack from the knesset. It's what Obama didn't do when the recent guest pastor at his church launched into a vile personal attack on Hillary.

Freeman said...

I think Obama's been pretty darn gracious. And he, um, resigned from the church. Not a small gesture.

The Michigan and Florida debate is essentially illusory. They split the delegates. Simple. The whole idea that she should receive an entire gamut of delegates from an uncontested primary and that Obama should receive none for taking his name off the ballot was absurd from the start.

David D. said...

Don't blame me! I voted for Kodos!

Kerry said...

Actually, Mark, the Florida Democrats (including Clinton supporters like Debbie Wasserman Schultz) were enthusiastic about moving the primary date: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/24/us/politics/24florida.html

But that's not the point. The point is that the DNC rules exist, whether one thinks they are fair or not, and it's a doubly damaging message for Hillary Clinton to keep up her false claims of winning the "popular vote" and that Florida and Michigan were "disenfranchised." First, because it obviously undermines the legitimacy of her own party's candidate, which is a big fucking no-no and she would be outraged if Obama had done the same to her.

And second, because it sends the message that she can only win if the rules are flouted or if she doesn't have any competition on the ballot, which isn't the kind of female empowerment I want to see play out on the national stage.

I agree that it's time to bury the hatchet and move on to the general. But it would be nice for those of us who have been tarred as "Obamabots" and "elites" and "Kool-Aid drinkers" (itself an offensive reference, given what happened at Guyana) to also receive graciousness from the other side. (And no, I do not think you have engaged in that kind of rhetoric, but obviously it has been out there for a while.) You know, since Hillary Clinton's camp explicitly decided to go with race-baiting and guilt-by-association as a campaign strategy (see the transcript of the ABC debate, where he defended her when Bosnia came up, while she eagerly latched onto the Wright, Ayers, and Farrakhan express), we might have reasons to be pissed off, too.

I don't think he's been a saint. But he has run a far cleaner and smarter campaign than Hillary Clinton, and deserves credit for that.

Furthermore, I'm mystified at the notion that Hillary Clinton and some of her supporters require and deserve special care and handling because of their hurt feelings. Did anyone ever give a male candidate that kind of "space and time to heal?" I'm sure Reagan was pissed when he lost to Ford in 1976. Gary Hart probably had his wounds after 1984. But I don't remember there being rhetoric about how Ford and Mondale had to treat their rivals' supporters with kid gloves, lest they bolt the party and vote against their interest. I can't help but think it's really sexist to assume that a female candidate and her supporters are more emotionally fragile and less prone to respond rationally at the polls in November.