Monday, April 14, 2008

Another Reason for Hillary to Stay in the Race

While working on the prior post about why Obama's supporters want Hillary to quit, it occurred to me that there is a reason, other than hoping she will eventually get the nomination, that Hillary should stay in.

If Hillary stays in until the end, and the nomination gets decided by Super Delegates, either her supporters or Obama's will feel cheated. This is GOOD.

I know that is counter-intuitive, but only if one focuses solely on this election. If, however, one looks at the system from a longer-term perspective, this outcome should be beneficial if it leads to a revised and more rational primary system.

What should be the purpose of a primary system? To nominate the person who best represents the will of the Party's members. The current system does not accomplish this and is little better than the smoke-filled room.

The problems with the current primary system are well known.
1. Iowa and New Hampshire as gate-keepers
With the exception of the people who live in these two states, everybody realizes that their gate-keeper function is anti-democratic and damaging. Only candidates with relatively deep pockets can survive a loss in these two states especially because the media consider the outcomes to be definitive, in every sense of the word.

2. Caucuses vs. primaries
The sheer idiocy of having caucuses can be seen in Texas this year where it appears that Obama may win more delegates (due to the caucuses) than Hillary in spite of her trouncing him in the popular vote.

There is simply nothing democratic about a caucus. Turnout is low compared to that in a primary. Only people with spare time on their hands can attend. Peer pressure can easily overwhelm personal wishes when people must publicly state their preferences.

3. The primary season
Although primaries & caucuses are scheduled from Jan. - June, everybody seems to want and expect the nominee to be chosen by March. This is absurd. It means that both parties have set things up so that many, if not most, of the states have no say at all in who becomes the nominee because they vote too late. This is the reason so many states, including Florida and Michigan, moved their primaries up this year.

It is unfair in the extreme to create a system that disenfranchises many, if not most, of a Party's members.

All of these problems have been apparent for years, but nobody does anything to fix them. The Party bigwigs seem content to have a few states determine the nominee - no matter how badly the nominee may fare in the general election.

But if this year's Democratic nominee is chosen by Super Delegates, there will be enormous pressure on the DNC to finally fix the system. (Anglachel has a proposal worth serious attention by the DNC. )

I know that many will argue that I am right, but this is the wrong time. Winning the GE is too important this year. Unfortunately, it is precisely because this election is so important to Democrats (and, really, be honest, what election in the history of the country has not been important?) that we must ride it out to the end.

The DNC must change the system and the only way to make them change the system is to have a nominee (be it Hillary or Obama) who is not viewed as the legitimate winner by a large number of Democrats. If Hillary quits, this won't happen. If she stays in, it's pretty much inevitable.

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