Friday, March 7, 2008

Democracy in the Democratic Party?

I don't want to become yet another person who does nothing but chatter on on their blog about politics. How many people have to give their disorganized, grabasitic opinions about politics on the Internet? Geeze, I know it's the right of every American to bitch and moan about our government . . . but the madness must end somewhere. Well, apparently, not with me.

Because, well, I just found out that the Democratic Party doesn't believe that all Americans should get to vote in their primaries. What happened, it appears, is Michigan and Florida decided to move up their primaries and the Democratic Party didn't like that - so they stripped the states of their primary candidates!

Even barring such issues as the Democratic Party's superdelegates . . . how can anyone think that this "election" is democratic (in the small-d sense) when they are discluding almost ten percent of the US population. How can this Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama thing have even a shred of legitimacy when ten percent of the US population is barred from voting in it! And how can this be even vaguely legal?

And the controversy right now, how I learned about this, isn't that people are outraged that tens of millions of Americans have been disenfranchised - but that there's a furor over whether it's right for those votes to be counted (or re-cast, even) because of the closeness of the Clinton-Obama struggle! I have found no articles (maybe they exist - if you know where they do, send them to me!) condemning the anti-democratic nature of excluding 10% of the American population from part of the process whereby voters determine who the next President will be. That ten percent of voters are denied their franchise seems irrelevant to newspapers.

I believe this is allowed to happen because people do not see the political parties as being, well, part of the government. I think much damage is done to the American political process because, while obviously being part of the government, they claim to be separate from it. Even now, many people reading this are going, "Well, they aren't part of the government! Political parties aren't part of the government."

I think that this is a naive position to hold. You have two groups to which virtually every politician in America are beholden. Each of these groups receives between tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars from the US government every year (depending on what kind of elections are taking place). The government uses its own polling facilities to take their votes. How, after all of this, after the massive and direct influence they have over virtually every politician in America, the amount of money that they take in from the public treasury, and way that their entire apparatus is supported by public infrastructure, can they not be considered part of the government? But I think that's what people think - that the disenfranchisement of tens of millions of people by the Democratic Party in Florida and Michigan is some sort of procedural thing, a simple party matter. I think it is a sign of the extent to which Americans don't give a damn about meaningful democracy.

So, well, I'll say it because it's true. Given the disenfranchisement of Florida and Michigan, I do not believe any person who takes democracy seriously can believe that the Democratic presidential primaries have even a shred of legitimacy. I think that there should be a national - no, international outcry against the theft of millions of American's right to vote. I think it is astonishing, and a testament to the weakness of American democratic institutions, that this is allowed to happen.

1 comment:

David Eaton said...

I can't quite get it either.

However, it appears to me that only a do-over would be fair. There was a lot of gaming done, strutting around by various candidates agreeing that they wouldn't campaign and so on in states with primaries that were 'too early'.

On the other hand, the whole primary season is extra-constitutional, so the parties could pick candidates by casting lots and/or looking at goat entrails and they wouldn't be disenfranchising anyone in a strictly constitutional sense.

The whole thing reeks. I hate politics.