The following is an open letter to Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. I hope all readers of this post contact him and the other officials mentioned in this letter. Just click on the links. And as always -- agree or disagree -- blog comments are welcome.
I'm writing you today to request that you more aggressively assert control over your party's primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton so that you honor voters' desires and protect the fairness and integrity of the primary process. You are on the verge of causing voters across the United States to lose faith in the legitimacy of the Democratic primary process -- showing us that your party does not care how we vote or what we think. You are on the verge of causing a backlash against your party unlike anything we've seen in the modern era.
But you have the ability to stop this from happening. Specifically, it's time for you to take your head out of the sand, gather the Democratic party's most respected elders, exert your collective influence, and announce that you are taking the following actions:
Stop candidates from trying to steal the already earned (pledged) delegates of their opponents. All primary and caucus delegates won by a candidate are delegates earned fairly. Many reports have made it clear that one candidate is trying to convince such pledged delegates to vote against the person he's pledged to. There are laws against and punishment for grand larceny in the real world. Apply such a system to your primary. Your silence on this issue is unconscionable.
Make the superdelegates support the will of the voters. Announce that your office has contacted every single superdelegate and informed them all that you and the party demand that they cast their votes for any candidate if he or she enters the convention with a lead in regular delegates won (the only thing that should count anyway), especially if that candidate also has the lead in the popular vote and the number of states won. A superdelegate who fails to do so should be removed from the convention. The superdelegates, according to the latest story in The Washington Post today, clearly believe they have the powers of a dictator -- and one that needs to pay no attention to the millions and millions of people who got involved in the Democratic primary ... including some of us who did so for the first time.
Said Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury: "If the pledged-delegate total is within 100 votes or whatever, I don't think there's a great deal of significance in that. I just believe that the determining factor for superdelegates shouldn't be, 'Well, 49 percent voted for Hillary and 51 percent voted for Obama, and that decides it for us.' Sorry, but that's not how it works."
"Sorry, but that's not how it works"? Who does Mr. Bradbury think he is? It doesn't matter whether a candidate wins by 2 percent, 20 percent -- or one vote. I ask you to admonish him immediately for making such an insulting comment. It is exactly that kind of arrogance and disrespect for voters that will unleash itself against Democrats.
In the same Post story, New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman confirms the superdelegate superiority complex -- while also inadvertently making the point the rest of the nation now sees as a self-evident truth:
"If superdelegates were just intended to automatically vote for the preference someone else expressed, there wouldn't be any purpose."
Announce that this will be the last convention that includes superdelegates. The superdelegate system is immoral, un-democratic an anti-American -- end it. Admit the party is correcting a long-overdue mistake by doing away with the presence of party insiders who have the ability to help a candidate steal an election away from voters.
Definitively state that delegates from Michigan and Florida will not be seated, period, and there will be no "do-over" primaries in those states at a later date. Both states knowingly, willingly and enthusiastically chose to move up the dates of their primaries -- even though doing so was strictly against the rules. It's like both states robbed a bank right in front of a police officer and yet are somehow outraged that they got arrested and convicted.
Voters in those states could have made more of an effort to stop the effort to move their respective primaries, and, failing that, can exact a price on those officials by removing them from office. Meanwhile, sticking your head in the sand while one candidate seeks to seat delegates in Michigan, where she was the only one of the remaining contenders not to remove her name from the ballot, and Florida, where neither candidate campaigned, is, again, unconscionable on your part.
It's time for you to stand up and be counted, Mr. Dean. It's time for you to quit your fence sitting and start aggressively doing your job as leader of the Democratic party. Considering the outrage that so many Democrats felt after Gore lost to Bush, and the unfairness your own presidential campaign experienced as a result of an audio glitch, it is absolutely your moral obligation to intervene. It's time for you to act to honor voters' desires and protected the fairness of your primary.
If not, all current supporters of either current Democratic candidate should commit to voting for the Republican nominee this November. Far better for voters to sacrifice one election in order to regain control of the party than to forever know that the Democratic primary is an illegitimate process and that our votes in 2012 and beyond absolutely do no matter.