Saturday, April 05, 2008

Legitimacy = 2214

Via katiebird posting at The Confluence, Kevin Drum misframes the question facing the Democrats:
But is there really a sizable pool of Democrats in either state who are both (a) so committed to the party that they care about stuff like this and (b) so uncommitted to the party that they’re willing to either stay home or vote for John McCain in November? Or is the argument that activists will be so pissed off that they’ll refuse to man phone banks and knock on doors, thus scuttling Clinton/Obama’s ground game? I’m not sure I get the logic here.
The problem with the way this question is put is that it imposes a false equivalency on the reasons why the different groups of partisans accept or reject the opposing candidate. It assumes that the partisans will stay home or else vote maliciously if their personal favorite does not win.

What Drum overlooks is that a Democrat may care passionately about the legitimacy of the nominee selection process and, as a result of that commitment to democratic principles, may reject the person selected as nominee as having won that in an illegitimate manner.

This also looks away from the nature of the arguments that the different groups of partisans are making. Obamacans will not acknowledge the legitimacy of Hillary Clinton as a candidate. They describe her in obscene and derogatory terms, defame her as a human being, summon culturally loaded imagery to portray her, blatantly and crudely encourage misogynistic attacks on her, and dismiss her supporters as poor, uneducated, bigoted Archie Bunkers. They refuse to vote for the bitch, and have been stamping their little feet about this for years. They would say this regardless of who Hillary's opponent is. Their only formal reed to cling to is Dr. Dean and Donna Brazile said not to count Florida and Michigan, so nyah!

Hillary supporters point to the selection process itself. We point to the caucus system as suppressing participation and resulting in disproportion of voters to delegates in places like Wyoming vs. California. We argue that it makes no sense to refuse to count the votes of Michigan and Florida, two must-win states in the general. We say it would be best to revote those places so as to remove doubt as to the will of the voters. Our arguments would apply without modification if the situation were reversed. It doesn't matter how much we like our candidate or dislike her opponent, winning the votes is winning the votes. Our formal foundation is the principle of enfranchisement.

Let's see if I can put this into terms even Kevin the Determinedly Obtuse can grasp.

The rejection of Obama is not simply loyalty to a candidate, though the dedication to Hillary as a person increases with every ad hominem attack upon her. It is a rejection of the manner in which the nomination is being decided. I may not like my candidate losing, but if it is the outcome of the actual votes in the primaries, I have no formal or objective ground on which to oppose the nominee. If my candidate loses because ballots for her are simply not counted, then I have formal grounds for complaint. I do not have to allege any bad motives on the part of any actor to hold that position. It is a procedural question.

The issue at stake is legitimacy in the eyes of the voters. If the voters do not think a nominee has won that position through legitimate means, then that candidate will lose a percentage of votes, probably enough to cost him the margin of victory.

Pointing to Brazile's rules that Michigan and Florida votes not be counted ignores the fact that increasing numbers of voters do not regard that ruling as legitimate either. There are rules to allow the punishment to be rescinded, but these attempts are being thwarted by Obama in order to not have to stand up in front of those voters and be judged. More than the initial ruling, this refusal to agree to any remedy that empowers the voters to express their political will is causing potential voters to say "No, I won't vote for him under these conditions." There, again, is the different nature of the opposition. While there are Hillary supporters who will not vote for Obama under any circumstances due to the personal assaults he launched on her, there are other voters who will not vote for Obama unless he presents himself to the vote of all Democrats in the primary process. That second group of voters are amenable to having their minds changed by the simple expedient of counting the votes of Florida and Michigan.

If the votes in question can change the outcome of the contest, then those who voted but are not counted will view the outcome as illegitimate and rightly so. In this case, it would mean that the candidate who won the popular vote count and thus is the choice of the majority of the primary voters lost the nomination. A 48 state strategy has not been legitimate since Alaska and Hawaii joined the union.

Kevin misstates the problem in another way as well. By limiting the outraged voters to just Michigan and Florida ("a sizable pool of Democrats in either state"), he ignores the fact that the anger is nationwide because disenfranchising those two states takes away Hillary's national majority. If Hillary loses the nomination simply because Florida and Michigan are not allowed to count towards her delegate total, all of her supporters across the country have had their votes discounted. That would be just over 50% of all primary voters and, given exit polls, substantially more than 50% of Democrats. The express will of the voters in all of these states has been dismissed:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Tennessee

Given current polling, it looks like Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia will also go strongly for Hillary. Indiana looks like it will be another win. She is competitive in North Carolina, though unlikely to win. That's a hell of a lot of voters all over the country who have every incentive not to view an Obama nomination as legitimate if he refuses to risk losing by putting the decision up for a vote.

And, in the end, that is where legitimacy is grounded in the US. While voters can roll their eyes and dismiss the mud-slinging, they want the votes to count. The fact that Obama will not face the voters may be dismissed by his partisans (Teh Rulz! Teh Rulz!), but it is what the uncommitted voters or those who kinda-sorta favor Hillary will make of it that will affect the general election outcome.

Elections are decided by the margins, sometimes by a few hundred votes. If a few hundred Democrats in key swing states decide that they can't vote for Obama because he cheated to get the nomination, there goes the White House.

Legitimacy = 2214 delegate votes. Florida and Michigan must be counted. I'm willing to see my candidate go for a revote in either of those states, even though she could very well lose in Michigan.

Why is Obama afraid of the voters? He has to face them at some point, and it would be better to do so now than wait until November.



Janis said...

There is a big undercurrent that has to be addressed as well -- talking about angry voters not just pouting a bit then coming back. You addressed it below: the idea that since a lot of Hillary's support is female, that we're "just whining" and will come crawling back wanting to make up.

There's just no way to talk about this without these metaphors, since I think these metaphors are what's beneath the constant male assumption that our votes will be cast for their guy come hell or high water. They truly do see us as stamping our widdle footies and having our tizzy, and then coming back later sniffling and apologetic.

They don't get that they are seeing it that way,nor that we accurately realize it. Nor do they get that we've dealt with this before. I was angry as all hell, but I ran into a comment on TM that made me sit back and think, "Oh shit, they have no clue what's going on," when a woman compared it to leaving an abusive husband with her two kids packed into a rickety car, almost nauseous from terror -- which wasn't a casual comparison. She had done this.

Most older women (and some younger ones) have had these experiences, of deciding after one put-down or slap too many (and there have been an awful lot of them in this campaign, ALL chauvinistically motivated) that we're just gonna leave.

And we leave.

And they never think we're going to until we do. Upon which point the smirks and the knowing sneers drop like rocks and the invective pours out of their mouths like a burst sewage pipe, which is what we'll be getting a lot of this fall.

Women who have gotten into cars with small children or walked out on men who havethreatened to kill us are not the sort to capitulate to fears of choice issues.

Simply put, and this can't be stated to these creatures enough: You think you have us over a barrel on choice. You don't.

If a woman can leave a shitty relationship with a stomach full of acid and shaking from fear for her kids' welfare -- or fear for her own life -- the Choice Boogeyman isn't going to scare us. We've survived before. We'll manage. We managed through the last 8 years of a dumbass who appointed a veterinarian as a women's health adviser. We'll manage now.

They do not have us over a barrel on choice this time. This isn't just a matter of picking one pro-choice guy over another. The mere fact of Clinton's being a woman has shifted things in ways they have no context for and aren't predicting.

They are smirking to their buddies, "She'll come back."

They are in for one hell of a surprise this time. It will shift everything, they won't see it coming, and they aren't allowing for it in their strategizing. And we can warn them until we're blue in the fact, and it won't matter.

Any of them who are reading this comment: get ready for a surprise. We ain't playing that game anymore.

Pat Johnson said...

One of the major issues for me are the caucuses. Not everyone is able to get to the polling place at a specified time and thus many are not heard. The voting booth is the best and fairest way to express your selection as the time alloted fits more readily with time available during a 12 hour time slot. I have an issue with a handful of people choosing the front runner when the rest of the country has yet to be counted. Obama came out of Iowa with a lot of steam due largely to the caucus system. All states should require primaries and disband the caucus system altogether.

Shainzona said...

Oh, I love coming here and reading the posts and comments. Thank you ALL for saying what I feel.

I am so tired of trying to explain myself, I just usually end up saying "You just don't get it, do you? And the fact that you don't get it is the reason I am becoming more and more entrenched in my total committment to Hillary and against Obama."

I have a legitimate reason not to want Obama...I truly do not see him as qualified at this time for a job that - because of Bush's 8 years - is even more important than other years.

For me it's PTSS - the years I fought as a women in business. The slings and arrows; the lack of raises because "you have a husband"; the call for me to come and put out the business fires that the guys started; raising two children to be totally unbiased - all of the things in my life that define me.

And everytime I'm told, "Oh, you'll come around" I respond"NOT ON MY LIFE!"

And I mean it.

lori said...


Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is one of the articles i was hoping someone would write today.

The Obama supporters aren't getting it. They really, really think they can call Hillary every name in the book, and engage in all sorts of electoral dysfunction and in the end, we'll come back.

I don't think Hillary turns them into dysfunctional husbands so much as smart alec 14 year old boys confident mom is always there to clean up the mess. Kyle's mom is a bitch - and all that.

And Janis - thank you for your post as well. I agree - the choice boogeyman doesn't scare me. The truth of the matter is that the Republicans have many good reasons to not overturn Roe V Wade and have not done so when given the opportunity. It'll kill their cash cow. Obama has voted present on choice bills when he didn't have to. I don't believe for a second, based on rhetoric about women and bipartisanship that he will appoint judges who will respect Roe v Wade. And i do not want the Democratic party saddled with that shift.

I'm 53, self-employed and have no health care. I'm a UHC voter. And I know that I wouldn't get coverage under Obama's plan. I'd rather run against McCain in four years, and have a shot at universal healthcare then, than have Obama cook up some pro-industry plan that poisons the well for another generation. And another thing - my brilliant and kind son had been aggressively dissuaded from medical school by every physician he talked to about it. He's thinking that if Clinton is elected, he'll go now. he's a brilliant and kind young man - he'd make an awesome physician.

Come all without. Come all within. You'll not see nothin' like the Mighty Quinn. Grrrrrr....

Escoffier said...

There is another element to all of this that Obama supporters seem to be incapable of understanding. The leadership of the party that is pushing his nomination so hard are not respected. These are the same people who either lost or participated in the loss of two presidential elections, several Congressional elections and were the most pathetic minority party ever. Weak is a charitable description.

In 2006 the pubic gave the Democratic party a majority in both chambers of Congress to stand up to Bush. They elected the first female speaker and had very senior Dems in charge of all of the critical Senate committees to stop Bush. They did nothing. In some instances they did less than nothing and collaborated with the war criminal. Most people are far from happy with the performance of Congress and especially the Democratic leadership which demonstrated very little leadership and no discipline. Their whining response when criticized is the voters did not give us a large majority. What do they want? 100%. We have to work with what we have and by golly they do too.

Now many of these same nonleaders (I will not use bad language) have the nerve to tell the public who they should support and try to rig the rules accordingly. My frustration, and I suspect many more feel the same as I do, is turning into fury and disgust. It appears as if they want more power from the public to roll over or ignore what the overwhelming majority want them to attend to in the country's business. Their cavalier acceptance of the obscene vilification of one of the candidates is very telling of their character. They exude "boys will be boys".

By not counting the primary votes in MI and FL, and allowing filth to be thrown at a sitting senator, there is going to be a ripple effect. Not only do they think the public will come around to see how wise and all knowing they are, the party leadership believes that they will be given a larger majority in Congress. They are not trusted or respected and are already viewed as a group of wieners (I will not use bad language) who will not stand up for anything. The public may decide they should not have power because they do not know how to use it. The voters many decide to punish all Democrats who did not put a stop to voter disenfranchisement, trying to ruin the personal integrity of our last Dem president and a sitting Senator from NY, and putting their own personal preferences and ambition before the public wishes and the republics welfare. The possible bad effects are just now becoming visible.

janiscortese said...

Sorry to hijack there -- I was trying to add in the fact that, as well as mis-strategizing on the legitimacy issue, there is also a strong undercurrent of, "Well, we don't really have to care about the women anyhow, so on to the rest of the numbercrunching." They're getting the rest of it wrong as well.

I also am really beginning to feel like there is no legitimacy even with MI and FL, at least not on the Obama side. It's so clear that the fix has been in for a long, long time -- the way he's been groomed to "beat the bitch" for what are, in hindsight, YEARS -- it just screams "fix" to me. I have a strong suspicion that no matter what happens, no matter the results in the rest of the states, no matter the ultimate decision in FL/MI, Obama's the nom. He has been for three years. That plus the way he's gamed the caucases, the way the media has practically been fellating him at every opportunity just ... I'm sorry, it's a fix. His candidacy is permanently suspect and can't lose the stink of bullshit to me at this point.

So for me, the "legitimacy" argument has already been decided. He's not. He never will be in my eyes. :-P

mystic4hill said...

It's not only the Obama supporters who don't get it, it's the Democratic leaders who don't get it.

I'm a 56 year old woman. I remember in the 70s being told by my (male) boss that I had to date an important client or risk losing my job. In those days, it happened all the time to young women in the workplace. Two decades later, in the 90s, I was told by another (male) boss that a promotion I had been promised was actually going to a new hire - a man - and would I be so kind as to train him (I did).

Today, I am self-employed, and it's been a long time since I've compromised myself because a man demanded it. So, I won't compromise myself and vote for a man who I believe to be, without question, unsuitable for the job of President.

So, I won't come around. I won't vote for Barack Obama. This is one typical white woman who fully intends to vote for Hillary Clinton, even if that means a write-in vote, and NOTHING will change my mind!

jangles said...

Legitimacy is done. It is not and never can be for Obama. He has crossed too many lines. To the Republicans who voted for him in order to kill off Clinton I say, be careful what you wish for!!!! I will do everything I can think of to help McCain defeat him if BO becomes the Democratic nominee and McCain does need a lot of help.

Clyde said...

The truth is, I have known for some time that I will not and can not vote for Obama. That feeling actually came from reading and listening to his supporters as much as the man himself because Obama never has a whole lot to say about anything substantial. Unless it is cribbing from the plans of Clinton, Edwards and other candidates. But I even see that as more of a lame attempt to make it look like he has something, or to cover up the fact that he doesn't really want us to know what his grand plan really is.

If it were just known reasons to worry about Obama, that would be one thing. But it is also the unknown about him that worries me.
It's the little bit here and the little bit there things that you find out and begin to put together that makes you begin to worry what this man's true agenda is or even if he really has one. No one seems to really know or have a straight answer beyond hope and change. And aristocracies have been built on nothing more than that.

But he must have some kind of plan, some kind of grand scheme, doesn't he? Yet it seems he and his bots would rather we believe in his incompetency than discover what is really the driving force behind this totally manufactured facade of his. And that is what scares the heck out of me. It is the fear of the dark side, the fear of the totally unknown with this guy. As someone once said somewhere, "I have a really bad feeling about this."

workingclass artist said...

Great post. Over at the online mag Washington Monthly there is a great article by Josiah Lee Auspitz titled: The law of Rules. clearly explains them darn rules and how FL/MI can be resolved. Just in case anyone's interested.

janiscortese said...

There's an e-mail got sent out from his campaign to his bot-followers talking about How To Join Up In The Obama Leadership Training Program or some such.


McCain 2008!!!! All the way, baby! I got a grand just sitting here waiting for you, my man.

janiscortese said...

lori, I ran across a really interesting article from the Black Agenda Report that deconstructs (literally rips to shreds) Obama's campaign from a race-centered perspective in almost the same way as your UHC-centered one.

The whole "don't let him poison the well for years" thing. It's an excellent read, and an eye-opening one for this white woman who found it full of angles I hadn't considered, ways to look at this without even mentioning the name "Clinton."

At any rate, the metaphor of "poisoning the well" can also be used for issues of interest to the black community, it appears.