The mishandling and arbitrary decisions surrounding states pushing ahead of their assigned schedules in the primaries laid the groundwork for the mess. Please go read BTD's many excellent posts on this subject over at TalkLeft. The fundamental issue was the lack of leadership in the DNC to create and enforce clear, non-arbitrary penalties on all of the states that changed their primary/caucus dates. This should have been a matter of rule-based discipline - return to your original date or face a percentage penalty in loss of voting power, possibly determined by some formula based on number of days you jump ahead plus the number of states you jump ahead of or something like that. Instead, the penalties were handed out arbitrarily, with no consistent enforcement of any rules. At that moment, while there may have been some guess about which candidate would fare best in which state, no votes had been cast and no advantage secured. Once votes had been cast and candidates jockied for position, the DNC became a partisan player in deciding the outcome and distributing delegates, hinting that they would allow delegations to count only if Hillary could be forced from the race, allowing the Obama campaign to block revotes, and other idiocy. They abdicated responsibility for being even-handed or even consistent. This left a legitimacy vacuum in the middle of the election process. However, it still remained within the bounds of its chartered authority to determine the seating of the delegates. Yesterday's RBC meeting upended that authority.
While some Floridians may take umbrage, the 50% seating of Florida does not cause half the crisis that the reallocation of Michigan's delegation does. Simply put, the RBC arbitrarily handed Michigan delegates to the DNC's preferred candidate to try to prevent him being defeated at the convention. There is no rule or guideline in the DNC that allows that organization to redistribute a state's delegation to the national convention. They can refuse to seat a delegation, they can refuse to permit the delegation to have full voting authority, but they cannot change the composition of the delegation. The delegates are apportioned based on the express will of the voters (primaries) or caucus goers (caucuses), which are conducted by rules agreed upon prior to the electoral contest by the state party organization.
Once the voters have cast their ballots and the ballots are certified either by the Secretary of State or by the Party (Caucuses) (And I may be wrong about who certifies caucuses. It may also be the SoS, and/or vary between states.), that's the vote. Allocation of specific delegates may be done by a formula, but it must be based on the express choices of the voters. You cannot count votes that were not cast. You cannot choose people who were not on the ballot. You cannot take 50 votes for candidate A and hand them over to candidate B because of an exit poll.
Reallocating votes based on the outcome you want to have, not what the certified vote count actually was, eviscerates democracy as such.
Think about this. Really think about this. A committee of people, behind closed doors and under pressure from a specific candidate to shore up his crumbling support, has functionally declared Michigan's votes null and void and has reallocated the delegates to suit themsleves. The will of the people was considered advisory, not definitive, and the will of the committee was substituted. As for the argument that "the state wanted this outcome," it doesn't hold water. This outcome was not on the ballot. Obama did not put himself up for a vote at the time of the initial primary, nor would he agree to doing so when there was time to organize a second primary. His solution was simply hand him half the delegation and fuck the voters of Michigan. It is no consolation that he didn't get all of the delegates he wanted to steal, just most of them.
Again, the RBC handed out delegates to a candidate who removed himself from the ballot and who will not accept the penalties of his campaign choice. They have removed delegates earned by one candidate and handed those delegates to the other person because they want him to be the winner. They did this to prevent the popular vote winner from earning her fair share of delegates and to force her out of the race.
I myself made the mistake of focusing on the four hand-over delegates yesterday, when the fact is Obama did not deserve a single delegate from Michigan. He removed himself from the ballot to game the system, which removed any legitimate claim he had to the votes, but his fixers in the DNC gave him more delegates than he would have won had he competed. I have said before that I think Obama could have won a revote outright, but why bother with all that campaigning and earning votes crap if your buddies will just hand you delegates?
If the DNC is claiming the authority to reallocate delegates based on what they believe voters would have wanted had things been different, then what is the point of the delegations? Why not, as Hartina Flournoy
How is this any different than the Supreme Court declaring that Florida went for Bush no matter if a ballot recount showed it going for Gore?
The DNC has undermined its own legitimacy with this decision. They may have provided Obama his margin of victory for the nomination, but the price is their own authority. What state will not try to push and bully its way to head of the line? What candidate will take seriously sanctions handed down by the party? Why will voters want to turn out if they know their decision can be overturned in a secret committee meeting?
What makes anyone think this will not be a major line of attack from the Republicans in the fall?
Previous posts on the DNC legitimacy crisis:
*"[W]what is being proposed here is that you go into a voting booth and at some point somewhere down the road, someone can decide that your vote goes somewhere else. If we're going to do that, let's sit in this room and decide the delegates for 2012." -- Hartina Flournoy (hat tip, commenter Deb. See below)