Wednesday, May 07, 2008

No Sympathy

So the folks in Michigan and Florida are all upset that they aren't getting any delegates to the Democratic convention. Doesn't matter that it's their own stupid fault. Doesn't matter that their state party leaders were clearly warned that this would happen if they broke the rules by holding primaries too soon. It's just wroooongg, they say, for them to go to all the trouble of holding illicit elections and not have the votes count for something. My response is much the same as Sara Robinson of the Group News Blog: Boo Fucking Hoo. (Go read, it's funny.)

Like Mrs. Robinson, I am a California native now an expatriate. Though I've been a diligent voter since I turned eighteen, I have never - until this year in Louisiana - cast a presidential primary vote that meant a damn thing.

Because until this year, California always held its primary on the first Tuesday of June, and the nominations were always decided by then. So, although I always followed the primary contests avidly, I never saw a primary candidate so much as set foot in California except to raise money. Until this year the most populous state in the union, with far more people in it than Florida and Michigan combined, has always had to watch the nomination contests from the sidelines.

Hey Michigan, Florida, doesn't feel so good, does it?

In fact, I thought it would be interesting to see how close we ever got to making a difference, by seeing when recent presidents secured their first nominations. George W. Bush ended John McCain's challenge with the South Carolina primary, second after New Hampshire in February. In 1992 Bill Clinton had it sewn up by Georgia, March 3. George H.W. Bush had it in the bag on Super Tuesday, March 8, 1988. In 1980 Ronald Reagan had a commanding lead almost from the start.

And so it goes. California joined the crowd at Super Tuesday this year, and when that actually didn't decide the race, Obama showed up to give a speech at Tulane. His first big cheer line was when he noted that the St. Charles Streetcar was running again, the first time since Katrina. If you live in New Orleans, you know what that means.

And it was nice to cast a primary vote knowing that it meant something. If the folks in Florida and Michigan want to get that feeling back next time, they need to tell their party leaders, in a clear loud voice: Don't fuck up again.

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