One Person One Vote Died a Year Ago todayPosted: May 31, 2009
In an important landmark case Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964), the Supreme Court established one of the most significant voting rights rulings impacting our Republic since the enfranchisement of woman and the election of U.S. senators by popular vote. Both of these occurred earlier in the century. Basically, Reynolds v Sims established the means to ensure that the United States was a truly representative form of government. It provided a legal way to enforce the idea that legislatures are those instruments of government elected directly by and directly as representatives of the people. Because of this, all elected officials should be elected in a free and unimpaired fashion. One Person one vote is a bedrock of our political system.
That was until one year ago today, when the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee declared the voters of Michigan and Florida to be one half of a person. This decision, done in a closed room behind close doors, was done in the name of party unity and led to the famous “party unity my ass” uttered at The Confluence that led to the PUMA movement. It led to spontaneous outrage across the country.
What began as a Democratic Party initiative to change the caucus and primary schedule to appease some special interest groups, wound up as a means to disenfranchise two states as Florida and Michigan were selectively punished for their decisions to change the dates of their primary caucuses. While other states similarly changed their dates, these two states were singled out for retribution. This was a stinging indictment of our entire political system for those of us that supported Hillary Clinton and were still stinging from the earlier disenfranchisement of Florida under the Bush v. Gore ruling that essentially gave us a President who mostly likely did not win the election. Every one knows how well that worked out.
Here are some reports from the day. This one is from MSNBC’s Chuck Todd called Nothing is fair about Florida and Michigan. Here was his suggestion for the situation at the time.
Why not consider punishing the party leaders and not the voters? Couldn’t the committee take away the states’ superdelegate votes? After all, it wasn’t the voters who demanded the states break party rules, but rather the leaders of the respective state parties.
Of course, this is too logical. The likely ruling on Saturday will probably highlight the party’s inability or reluctance to punish the superdelegates. There is a challenge from a Florida superdelegate claiming the party violated its own charter by stripping the state of both pledged delegates and superdelegates. Most members of the Rules Committee I’ve talked to indicate that he may be right. Keep in mind members of the Rules committee are all superdelegates themselves.
The Golden Rule could apply: Do unto other superdelegates as you would want done unto you.
The second idea the committee should be considering but isn’t reflects everything we’ve learned throughout this long primary season.
As many have noted, census data for each state have been remarkably determinative of results since Super Tuesday. In fact, the support groups for the two candidates have been incredibly stable. Why not apply what we’ve learned about the support groups of both candidates and split the delegates accordingly?
Of course, we found out soon enough that the party leaders did have their agenda and it was to ensure that we had their Candidate. We’re still unraveling the reasons for this travesty. We endured sexism, misogyny, and race-baiting through out the entire election cycle. We will be paying for this most undemocratic of decisions for years to come. We could have had a President that supports Abortion Rights and Universal Health Care. We could have had a President that refused to vote for FISA. We could have had a President that wasn’t controlled by lobbyists, Wall Street Fat Cats, and was a policy wonk extraordinaire. Instead, as Ted Ralls of Common Dreams, puts it, we got this:
We expected broken promises. But the gap between the soaring expectations that accompanied Barack Obama’s inauguration and his wretched performance is the broadest such chasm in recent historical memory …From healthcare to torture to the economy to war, Obama has reneged on pledges real and implied …Obama is useless. Worse than that, he’s dangerous. Which is why, if he has any patriotism left after the thousands of meetings he has sat through with corporate contributors, blood-sucking lobbyists and corrupt politicians, he ought to step down now–before he drags us further into the abyss.
I don’t know about you, but I WILL NEVER FORGET THIS DAY OF INFAMY.