The Political Hoedown
West Virginia...mountain mama; Other Voices; Next Up
Hillary Clinton whooped it up all last night, reveling in her 41-point victory over the junior IL senator. It's trite to say these contests are do-or-die for her. Since she won Indiana by only a slim two points (when, to stay viable, it should've been at least five), the media has been loudly nailing her coffin lid down, regardless of if her body is in there.
This is one lady that's going down swinging.
Obama did not give a speech last night, continuing his brilliant mindgames from last week. First, he says it's over without saying it's over for Hillary. Then he says he's looking ahead to the fall, and his staff begins repositioning for the general election (my inside man is out recruiting in Colorado, trying to make red turn blue). Now, pouring a tube (container? round box? Gah!) of Morton's salt on fresh wounds, he ignores entirely her victory. Flat-out silence. Like I said, brilliant.
Lessons we can glean from West Virginia and the campaign as it stands? I can see only one.
If this campaign has taught me one thing, it's that people want to be heard. With Obama as the presumptive nominee at the point - and can any of us really see Hillary pulling out the upset? - you'd think the general Democratic party would be realigning towards him and the battle this fall. But they're not.
Instead, around 240k West Virginians cast either protest votes or voiced their opinions of Obama. They did not quietly accept defeat of their candidate. Pundits have been on about how no Democrat since the cavemen have won the Presidency without West Virginia (there are a few states you have to win, it seems like, or else all hope is lost). Doesn't matter. Obama is building a new coalition, he says, that will rewrite party boundaries and change the political map entrenched for several generations.
Still, what does that have to do with "other voices"?
"I am in this race," Hillary said last night, in a speech to her supporters, "because I believe I am the strongest candidate...the choice falls to all of you."
Many of you know me personally, and understand I have ranted about Hillary until no one would listen, like I was reading straight from an Ann Coulter book. But she's doing something here, and I can't object. Despite her staying in the election until we all turn blue, despite her bald political ambition and social climbing, despite despite despite,-- she is letting people speak.
Her staying in this election reminds us that every state, county, ward, precinct, voter should have their say, if they so choose. Is she staying in for the wrong reasons? Yes, to a degree, but she also espouses this belief that the other voices need to be heard, not just the first 2,025 delegates' worth. From wintry beginning to exhausting end, she'll stay here until the last ballot is filled out.
And that's our democratic process, to the dismay of the DNC. The race might look closer - and therefore, more justified for Hillary - if the proportional system was based on the states' raw vote breakdown, instead of some random weighted system that differs per state and also includes the wilds of caucuses. Unfortunately, bureaucracy intrudes. Hillary doesn't deserve the nomination, per se, but at the same time these screams for her to drop out are also largely unfounded. Nominations are not an easy business. In my lifetime, it's been relatively smooth - compared to what came before. But we're entering a new political landscape, with unknown demographics. It's therefore of paramount importance to listen to each voice as it speaks.
Stopping primary season halfway through robs the later states of their right to be heard. Look at Florida and Michigan, moving their dates up to gain relevancy on a national scale, despite being prominent states to begin with. Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are pretty unimportant on a national scale, and to base the nomination of those four purported "bellwether" states is faulty logic. Is it very hard to understand why people are still coming out in droves now to vote, even though the media and many major Democrats (and Republics; there are protest votes lodged against McCain as well) are saying it's over? The other voices, oft-ignored, wish to be heard.
Looking at the drawn out contest, it's an argument for either a national primary day (or month, with a different quadrant voting each week), but all that is at the parties' discretion. Remember, this aspect of our nation's election process is still decided by the 21st century equivalent of Good Old Boys smoking cigars in the back room (trumped-up nerds with lattes in an office park), so until the Republicans and Democrats decide that the current system is broke, expect more tough fights in open years.
Though you may not have read it, feel free to peruse last week's Political Hoedown, "It's over! He won Guam!!", for a recap on Indiana, North Carolina, some more on McCain, the media and (of course) numbers.
Kentucky and Oregon vote next, followed by Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota. Those first two will go Hillary/Obama, followed by Hillary and then two Obama wins. It's likely Hillary can discount the western wins by saying they're Republican through and through, not worth the effort and expenditure to make "blue," but Kentucky is a solid battleground and proving spot. Puerto Rico for her also backs up her claim of the Hispanic vote.
John McCain recently gave a talk on his first term. See the AP story here. Some of it even Democrats can't argue with. The rest...it'll surely provoke debate. When the Dems decide what they're doing, I'll counterpoint it more with their proposed first term.