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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

January 13, 2008


Winning the "Super" Vote

Democratic hopefuls for the White House surely have to put on the dog-and-pony show known as the Primary and Caucus season. But when it comes down to the final vote, all of us rank-and-filers only have about 6/10 of the say in the matter for who will eventually get the nod. The other four-in-ten votes go to Super Delegates and they don't have to follow those same voting rules as those other, mortal delegates do.

A Super Delegate is a member of the Democratic Party who is either a former party leader (former Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton; Rep. Dick Gephardt); appointed members of the Democratic National Party (appointed by the Chairman, Howard Dean); Democratic Governors; US Democratic Congressional members; and US Democratic Senators. They are wooed by the candidates for their endorsement in much the same way lobbyists woo Congress for their support, and many will end up with a nice, new comfy office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if their guy, or gal, wins it all in November.

And it isn't right.

The idea of a Super Delegate came out of the 1972 Presidential election that saw Richard Nixon eat Senator George McGovern's lunch. (That is to say, beat him handily.) McGovern's campaign was a disaster from the get-go, beginning with the "retirement" of his first choice as running-mate, the "Sane" Tom Eagleton. It was this campaign, which took a grass-roots organization and philosophy to the top of the Democratic Party, which made the party rethink how it should pick its presidential nominee. So, today, and unlike the Republicans, we Democrats allow a small group of unselected officials an unweighted say in who we want to see as President.

To put it in terms some of us would understand better, a grass roots unconventional candidate (like a Dennis Kucinich) wouldn't stand a chance even if he were to get eight out of every ten of us who vote for him in our respective Democratic primaries or caucuses, assuming, of course, that none of the Super delegates voter for him.

Question: When does one vote equal only 60 percent of its actual value?
Answer: In the Democratic Presidential Primary

Now I understand that we yokels shouldn't make those decisions on our own. That's what we have Fox News for right? And even as the great many of us on the Blue side of the aisle were screaming and yelling about Al Gore's loss in 2000, even though he had won the popular vote by over a half-million handle-pullers, button-pressers and chad-pokers (except for the ones they decided not to count), we still aren't concerned about our say not carrying into Colorado this summer?

Well I am.

As it stands now, some state's caucuses or primaries seem to be a mere formality. A mere one percent of those eligible to vote have casted their ballots so far and even though 99 percent of Democratic voters have yet to make their choice, Senator Hillary Clinton (159 delegates committed or promised) already has a whopping two-to-one lead over Senator Barack Obama (77) and a four-to-one lead over former Senator John Edwards (44). The official committed delegate count - those delegates selected for a particular candidate by the Democratic Party voters of their states - is a much closer 25-24-18(Obama-Clinton-Edwards).

If we, the Democratic primary voters, wish to have any one of us represent them come November - even if that wish turns out to be another George McGovern, then so be it. Just what kind of back-room deals and bargains are being made so that "the right candidate" makes it to November and what will it cost us in the long run?

Let's face it - when it comes to deciding who is or isn't our next nominee, the Democratic party isn't very democratic to us, its members.

To keep an eye on the Superdelegates, check out the following: http://demconwatch.blogspot.com/2008/01/superdelegates-who-havent-endorsed.html

-Noah Greenberg

Happy New (Election) Year

Happy New Year!

Next year it may be Happy Blue Year.

It is historic: the candidates include:

Senator Hillary Clinton, a woman,
Governor Mitt Romney, a Morman,
Senator Barack Obama, an African-American,
Senator John Edwards, a Trial Lawyer,
Governor Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister,
Senator John McCain, an aging War Hero,
Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an Italian-American Former Mayor (who's late father and uncle were "connected, you know what I mean?"),

And Senator Fred Thompson, the dead guy.

Strikingly, all the candidates politicians. Does this mean they can't be trusted?

The African-American has the most intelligence and charisma. And judging from the voters the most street cred.

The woman has the most powerful husband, a former President. None of the other candidates have a powerful husband, or any sort of husband. The former mayor, however, lived with a guy who had a husband, however, since it doesn't relate to 9-11, he doesn't talk about it.

The Trial Lawyer, who is worth millions, made his money prosecuting corporate malfeasance and medical malpractice. He has long opposed the war in Iraq. He has been trying to help the people of New Orleans that the Federal Government is unwilling or unable to help. His health care plan would provide universal access to health care to all Americans. So it naturally and logically flows that he is derided as a "Socialist" by the news media.

About 30% of registered voters are independent of either party. The remaining 70% are split between the Democrats and the Republicans. Given that the independents are tending to vote for Obama, and most of the Democrats are saying "I like the African-American, the Wife of the President, or the Trial Lawyer, but I'll vote for the Democrat, whoever he, she is." If the Democrats were really smart they'd nominate Obama and pursue the independents. Course the Democrats, being Amarikun, are not often really smart.

For the rest of this rambling yet insightful rumination on the state of the campaign, go to www.furmanfiles.blogspot.com or http://furmanfiles.blogspot.com.

-Larry Furman

In response to, "In order for our nation to have a health care system that works for everybody, everybody must be included opting out will only hurt the nation as a whole and costs will continue to be what they are today - out of control," Robert Scardapane writes:

This really is only a small part of the story. There have been numerous studies that show even if everyone was insured health care premiums would only go down by a small amount and most likely would go right back up.

Irrespective of the structure of the system, single-payer or multi-payer, the system will fail to produce affordability unless prices are regulated.
Sorry Republicans, competition has not been effective in keeping health care prices in check. Health care, housing and education are commodities that defy the "power of the free market".

In response to, "It wasn't until former Senator John Edwards made health care the big deal that it, finally, is today," Victoria Brownworth writes:

I hate to disagree, Noah, but Hillary Clinton has been working on health care for 22 years, so I think you need to backtrack on that one! You'll have a hard time convincing any American that Edwards invented the health care platform. Did you see Sicko? Michael Moore spends ten minutes on what Hillary Clinton tried to do and what the Republicans did to her in return.

She was the one who crafted SCHIP, by the way. And as she pointed out in the reality check on Edwards in New Hampshire, which many cited as why they changed their votes AWAY from him, he has never followed through on anything regarding health care. She has.

I understand everyone has their biases in this election, but Edwards has missed the mark repeatedly, as he did in 2004. And the debate, in which he was disturbingly smug (he used to be my candidate of choice), sealed his fate with voters. Now his only hope is to ride the sexist and racist tide to a white man's victory over the African American and female candidates.

And Madman responds:

You may hate to disagree, but here we are...

Hillary's jaunt into the health care fray of 1993-94 was a noble try. However, up until Edwards made it a front-line issue again, health care was only receiving lip-service form all of the other candidates on the left and the only thing you heard on the right was "HSA! HSA!"

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-Noah Greenberg