Under the current rules, each political party has the absolute right to run their primaries however they see fit. And I have absolutely no problem with that. As a registered independent who voted in the Republican primary this time and the Democratic primaries in 2004 and 2000, I have no right whatsoever to challenge their methodology.
But I do find myself with some questions that, in the spirit of openness and non-partisanship, that I wish the leadership of the Democratic Party would answer.
Starting with, why is the Democratic Party’s primary process so darned undemocratic?
As Will Franklin observed recently, the Democratic Party’s process is remarkably undemocratic. They have far more
caucuses than primaries caucuses versus primaries than the Republicans, giving preference to political activists and public declarations of affiliation versus the sanctity and privacy of the secret ballot. They also give a full fifth of all their delegates to party officials, elected officials, and other elites under the term of “super-delegates” who represent only their own interests, and not that of any group of voters.
Secondly, can you please simply come up with a set of rules and follow them?
The Democratic National Committee set up a timeline for presidential primaries and caucuses, and told the states and candidates that those rules would be enforced if necessary with the loss of delegates at the convention. All the candidates agreed to abide by them, and those states’ Democratic parties who chose to go against the rules knew that they would be punished. Then, once Hillary Clinton bent her word (she very carefully did not break her word, violating the spirit but not the letter of the agreement in a very appropriately Clintonesque fashion) and won the states, there suddenly emerged a groundswell to “count every vote” and seat the delegates.
It kind of reminded me of how everyone got all bent out of shape over the electoral college rules when it emerged as a strong possibility that the candidate who did NOT win the national popular vote might win the presidency. In both cases, the rules were firmly set well in advance, but no one seemed concerned about them until those rules meant THEIR candidate might lose.
But it isn’t just Hillary Clinton who’s looking to toss out the rules for that are proving inconvenient. Since she has the majority of those “superdelegates” pledged to support her (but not really bound to do so), Barack Obama is questioning the system that the Democrats put in place over 20 years ago.
Like I said, the Democrats have every right to run their primaries any way they like. But it’d be nice if they could come up with a system that was actually “democratic” and they could keep the rules consistent from day to day.
Correction: my mind raced ahead of my hands in the 4th paragraph, and those darned pesky independent fingers of mine mistyped what I was intending to say about caucuses and primaries. I was trying to paraphrase Will Franklin, but I was thinking a couple of sentences ahead when I actually typed that. Thanks, mantis, for pointing that out.