With the race for the Democratic nomination nearly deadlocked, much has been made over the validity of the votes in Florida and Michigan.  Here’s the background:

The Democratic National Committee chooses when the states have their primaries.  Traditionally, the first states to vote include Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.  This year, Nevada was chosen as well, reflecting the demographics of the nation today.

The states of Florida and Michigan decided to move their primaries earlier so that their states would have a greater say in determining the nominee.  Like most of us, the leaders of these states thought that the nominee would be more or less determined by Super Tuesday and that they would miss their chance.

The DNC warned the states not to do this.  Chairman Howard Dean told the leaders of the states that if they had their primaries earlier than scheduled that they would risk losing their delegates and their seats at the convention.

Florida and Michigan ignored the DNC and had the elections anyway.

The Democrats pledged not to campaign in either state.  In Michigan, of the top three contenders at the time, Hillary Clinton’s name was the only one on the ballot.  As a result, 40% of the vote that day went to “Uncommitted.”  Hillary herself garnered 55% of the vote.

Though all three names were on the ballot in Florida, Hillary won the vote there as well, 50% to Obama’s 33% and Edwards’s 14%.

Now that we’re more than three months into the primaries and the race is nearly neck and neck, Michigan and Florida are clamoring to have their votes counted.

They do not deserve their delegates.

Here’s why:

  1. Michigan and Florida were aware of the rules long before they decided to hold their elections early.  They were repeatedly warned by the DNC and threatened with the possibility of losing their delegates.  They went ahead and did it anyway, and now they expect to be rewarded.
  2. If we allow Michigan and Florida to have their votes counted, more states could pull the same stunt four or eight years from now.
  3. Yes, it’s too bad that voters in Michigan and Florida won’t get their votes counted and their voices heard, but it’s also too bad that they elected leaders who chose to selfishly cut corners.
  4. Obama’s name wasn’t on the ballot in Michigan.  It’s not a fair vote.
  5. Many Michigan and Florida voters intentionally stayed home on election day, thinking that it was pointless since their votes count in the long run.
  6. A re-vote would cost around $30 million.  $30 million!  And the states want the DNC to pay!
  7. It’s clear that the candidate who would benefit the most from a re-vote is Hillary.  Is it a coincidence that Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm is a Hillary supporter and Florida governor Charlie Crist is a McCain supporter (as well as, I believe, a likely running mate) who would rather have his candidate face off against Hillary than Obama?  These protests are largely self-serving.
  8. Still, Obama is leading in delegates by so wide a margin that counting the Michigan and Florida votes could prove meaningless.
  9. Most of all, the more time the Democrats spend fighting each other, the more fractured and weakened the party will become, and we need to concentrate on winning back the White House.

You all know that I’m supporting Obama — but I think that these reasons speak for themselves.

So, what do I think should happen?  Seat the Michigan and Florida delegates at the convention.  Split them 50/50.  Chris Dodd (now an Obama supporter) was the first person to suggest that solution, and it’s stunning in its simplicity.

Will it happen?  I don’t know.

Four years ago, though I hoped and prayed that John Kerry would be our next president, some inkling in the back of me was skeptical — John Kerry?  Really?  Most people were ambivalent about him in general, and so was I.  He was the nominee.  He was a great senator.  But the person to put the end to the catastrophic Bush regime?  Did I really, truly believe in his potential?

Now, four years later, we’ve got two fantastic candidates, two inspiring candidates, two candidates who are passionate about repairing our country and making it better than ever before — the greatest Democratic candidates since Bill Clinton, and I think they’re even stronger.

I never dreamed that this would turn into a nightmare.