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:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
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.