May 28th, 2008

Popular vote reigns supreme for the Dems—as long as it’s expedient

Even though I was a Democrat at the time, had voted for Gore and disliked Bush, in the spine-tingling days of the back-and-forth after the 2000 Presidential election I recognized that whoever played the best game in overtime would win.

The election, as far as I could see, was a dead heat. Who actually won would be determined by a series of twistings and turnings, some of them legal, and each man had as good a claim as the other. When Bush won, although I was bitterly disappointed, I did not feel cheated. He had gamed the rules the best, and if Gore hadn’t been able to do so then he deserved to lose.

One of the corollaries of this attitude was that there was no doubt in my mind, then or later, that had the situation been reversed (Gore winning in the electoral college and losing the popular vote, Gore winning the Supreme Court decision) the majority of Democrats would likely have considered it fair and many Republicans would probably have been squawking. That’s politics, that’s life.

I wasn’t certain, however. That’s because, in 2000, the Democrat/Gore battle cry was “Count every vote!” while the Republicans were shouting “Follow the rules!” These two principles were roughly congruent with the traditional philosophy for each party—including, if you think about it, even the names of the parties: the appellation “Democrats” emphasizing the popular vote, and “Republicans” the representative nature of our government. So, even though I suspected some of the hue and cry was hypocritical and self-serving, it seemed in line with the general beliefs of each group.

Fast forward to 2008, and wouldn’t you know, the Democrats are facing their own internal dilemma that roughly parallels the 2000 battle. The problem stems at least partly from a primary system in transition: the popular vote has become more emphasized at the expense of an electoral-type winner-take-all state system. To make things even more clouded, though, as Rich Lowry points out in an article in the today’s New York Post, there are also caucus states that disenfranchise most voters, and even in some of the ballot states there are anomalies that mean all wins are not created equal.

And this is even before one considers the rule-based debacle that is the Democratic disenfranchisement of the voters of Florida and Michigan:

…[T]he Democratic delegate-allocation rules can make the Electoral College that Democrats maligned back in 2000 look robustly representative by comparison.

Obama won more net delegates from Idaho (12) in winning the state by 13,000 votes out of 20,000 cast than Clinton netted from New Jersey (11) in winning the state by more than 100,000 votes out of 1 million votes cast. Obama dominated in small caucus states – where a tiny percentage of tiny electorates participated – and through strange wrinkles in the rules won more delegates in states like New Hampshire and Nevada where Clinton notionally won.

Hillary’s cries of “Make every vote count!” now fall on mostly deaf ears, because it’s expedient. Obama is the anointed one and he needs to win. But it’s not just that; the consequences of taking the nomination away from him when he is, after all, following the rules, would be horrific: the alienation of his group of voters.

That’s why the cries of “Hillary, just go away!” become louder and louder. Her group of supporters is hopping mad at what they see as their disenfranchisement, plus the disrespect being shown their candidate. The Democrat leaders are hoping that if Hillary herself can do the right thing and fall on her sword like a good girl, it will placate and calm many of her followers.

The Democrats can afford to lose neither their African-American base nor the working class women who make up the bulk of the Hillaryphiles, and if Hillary would bow out gracefully it all might come out all right in the end. But don’t forget what they say about women scorned.

[ADDENDUM: Byron York makes similar points to Rich Lowry here.]

21 Responses to “Popular vote reigns supreme for the Dems—as long as it’s expedient”

  1. Artfldgr Says:

    this is the problem in politics of division disguised or propagandized to the politics of unity.

    they cant even get together on things that are their common interest. that they would fight on the front lawn as rome burns is clear, for they dont care about rome, but only about who is in the command seat when it falls.

  2. Occam's Beard Says:

    To adopt a partisan note, but for several reasons I’m not convinced Republicans would have squawked (or squawked nearly as much) about the 2000 election had the situation been reversed.

    First, going back a ways, they didn’t squawk when JFK stole the 1960 election, and Nixon refused to demand a recount despite what everyone agrees was a plethora of voting fraud by Democrats.

    More recently, Republicans didn’t howl to high heaven about Christine “Landslide” Gregoire’s “victory” in Washington, in which, IIRC, boxes of Gregoire votes miraculously appeared very late in the process, tipping the election to her and resulting in more votes being cast than there were registered voters (hmmm).

    In both cases, Republicans weren’t happy about it, but they didn’t demonize their opponents for years thereafter.

    I think there are several reasons for this. First, Democrats tend to attract the young, and therefore the passionate, emotional, intemperate, some might say the none-too-bright element, whatever you want to call it. It’s the same reason liberals are so often happy to use foul language in public discourse.

    The second reason is more invidious, and that is the role of agitprop in Democratic politics. Democrats appear not to realize, or at least to care, that their tent includes hard-core leftist agitators (e.g., Ayers) who fundamentally want to undermine the American way of life to replace it with a collectivist utopia. They seek to do this by spreading disaffection with American institutions: the family, the government, patriotism, the electoral process, the military, the justice system, and by stirring internal dissension between races, sexes, and religions. They’re not acting in good faith, but quite the reverse. A chance to destroy people’s faith in the equity of the electoral process was a windfall to these people.

  3. gcotharn Says:

    Occam’s Beard beat me to it: I don’t think conservatives would’ve raised a similar stink. I concur with his examples – the Gregoire example in Washington state being particularly egregious.

    I am certain some conservatives – being fallible humans – would’ve betrayed principle. A larger percentage of Republicans – being more defined by the purpose of winning policital power – would’ve betrayed principle. But, overall, the conservative and Republican reaction would not have been the same. Why?

    Conservatives are grounded in “short term pain = long term gain”. For example: allowing free markets to work = short term pain = long term gain. “Follow the law” is the perfect example: short term pain = long term gain. For conservatives: to break the law is to break with their values and principles. For liberals: changing law is more consistentent with their values.

  4. gcotharn Says:

    “Consistentent” = should be a word.

  5. Americaneocon Says:

    “….although I was bitterly disappointed, I did not feel cheated.”

    Strangely, while voting for Gore myself, I wasn’t all that bitter, much less cheated. I’d probably still be Democrat had Gore been elected. He wouldn’t have shifted so far to the left, wouldn’t have made Inconvenient Truth, and might even have toppled Saddam, carrying out Clinton’s Iraqi Liberation Act.

    But things turned out the way they did, and the Party of Defeat’s shown its true colors. If Clinton wants to stay in, it’s her game. Folks can read into it the opportunism, but I can’t say I blame her, she having anticpated this most likely since Bill won his nomination in ’92, if not earlier.

    Thanks for the links!

  6. Occam's Beard Says:

    I actually voted for Gore (hangs head in shame), but turned implacably against him in perpetuity for his putting his personal aggrandizement ahead of the good of the nation.

    I vowed to my long-suffering wife that I wouldn’t vote for the man for ratcatcher from that point forward, and will work against him if he ever runs again.

  7. gcotharn Says:

    Nixon conceded gracefully in an election he likely won in 1960. Nixon then won in 1968.

    If Gore had conceded gracefully in 2000; then behaved gracefully between 2000 and 2003; then (based on Kerry’s results) Gore might easily have won election in 2004. Yet, it didn’t happen. Kharma?

  8. Occam's Beard Says:

    Damned good luck for the US, I’d say.

  9. Mitsu Says:

    Well, the Republicans faced a similar problem and they are solving it much the same way the Democrats appear to be settling this: by seating the delegates with half a vote each. Seems semi-fair. There’s not really a perfect way to resolve this: obviously seating all the delegates full force would be unfair, since Obama didn’t campaign in either state and in Michigan he wasn’t even on the ballot (Hillary’s claims of being “ahead in the popular vote” depend on her counting ALL of the votes cast for her in Michigan and counting ZERO votes for Obama, because he wasn’t on the ballot — not counting the “uncommitted” as votes for him, as would be at least somewhat more fair.)

  10. DonS Says:

    The election, as far as I could see, was a dead heat. Who actually won would be determined by a series of twistings and turnings, some of them legal, and each man had as good a claim as the other.

    What if they recounted Florida 5 times, with Bush winning the first 4 and Gore winning the last?

    Seems to me that, unless Gore came up with a good reason that his Florida votes were undercounted, the first count is the one that should be valid.

    And I also agree with others: Republicans wouldn’t have pouted if Gore was the winner.

  11. Occam's Beard Says:

    Well, the Republicans faced a similar problem and they are solving it much the same way the Democrats appear to be settling this: by seating the delegates with half a vote each.

    But after the Democrats apply all of the racial, sexual, ethnic, cultural, religious, gastronomic (vegetarian)and economic criteria they so love to apply, they’ll end up with one each of everything, up to and including a blue collar albino HIV-positive drug-abusing Zorastrian Hispanic-Eskimo lesbian amputee, and they won’t have two delegates who can agree on what day of the week it is.

    Damn. I should have bought stock in Orville Redenbacher.

  12. njcommuter Says:

    It seems to me that the Dems were sticklers for the rules when it came to throwing out the absentee ballots of soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen. They stickled all the way to the court and they cackled all the way back.

    They have sown the wind wheresoever they went. Now that they have a whirlwind in their own backyard they’re finding out that some of them chickens is homing chickens.

    The country doesn’t need this. But the Democratic Party does, in the way a scofflaw needs a few nights in jail.

  13. harry McHitlerburtonstein the COnservative Extremist Says:

    Great point by Occam’s Beard. I would also add that the same cries of “count all the votes” were also heard in Washington state, because “we just want to make sure”. Just as soon as the numbers came up in Gregoire’s favor, there seemed to be no further need to recount them again just to make double sure.

    It is amusing to read some of the commentary written by liberals on either side of the Hillary/Obama issue. Both camps accuse the other of using “Rovian” tactics to disenfranchise each other. They never take another look at themselves. Not one iota of self reflection in those accusations. No epiphany that “hey, maybe were just a bunch of cry-baby losers”.

    Now there’s word of protest and counter protest scheduled in Florida.

    You just have to shake your head.

  14. Perfected democrat Says:

    It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game, right? Said it before, and must say it again, the Dimocrats truly deserve themselves… But the more urgent question now is how to protect the nation from the insidious radical left-wing onslaught that is profoundly compromising the long-term safety and welfare of the country. The republic and constitution, including it’s protection of minority (which may, ironically, be wasp’s and their friends soon) rights, must somehow be protected from the excessively idealized notion of the “democratic majority”, and where demographic growth, one man, one vote, one time, is now an openly touted long-term jihadi/left-wing control strategy.

  15. Rich Says:

    Rules are part of the “system”; from a certain POV they could be said to define the system. Consevatives tend to value the system and seek to preserve it, therefore they value the rules (they don’t always follow them, but they do value them). Liberals, in contrast, are committed to changing the system, and therefore often have contempt for the rules, and see no compelling reason to follow them when it’s inconvenient to do so.

  16. njcommuter Says:

    “Rovian” tactics? Gee, does that mean that they are actually talking about issues that matter to the voters? I kind of doubt it. No, they are not rising to that level.

  17. OldTexan Says:

    Mothersday I was at an extended family gathering where most of us are moderate conservatives with a nice sprinkling of liberals, the kind that actually think.

    One lovely great grandmother in her 80′s who is a retired professional woman was outspoken in her admiration for Hillary. No one dared argue with her since we all respect her and her right to have opinions that differ from ours.

    She then went on to say that there was no way she would ever vote for Obama and she like a lot of what she saw in McCain so it would be easy for her to crossover and vote Republican for the first time in her life. (I wonder how many of these folks are out there.)

    An aside note, her dislike of Obama is not racist and one of her cousins wrote the book ‘Black Like Me’ over forty years ago. She also said that Obama misquoted the book and she thinks he has a bright personality with a dim bulb for a brain.

    Any way I don’t think the election will be a Democratic runaway and I kind of think it is shaping up to be the Republican’s election to lose.

  18. Perfected democrat Says:

    Excellent comments OldTexan, and incidentally, I read ‘Black Like Me’ about forty years ago…

  19. Sam Wah Says:

    RE: “Hell hath no fury…”

    Hillary! is not just “a” or “any” woman, so I recommend standing well back and using a good telescope to watch what happens.

  20. OBloodyHell Says:

    > No one dared argue with her since we all respect her and her right to have opinions that differ from ours.

    OldTexan, I grasp your stance, but I’d point out, in general:

    Bertrand Russell’s 10 commandments for philosophizers:
    1 – Do not be certain of anything.
    2 – Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
    3 – Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.
    4 – When met with opposition, even if it should come from your husband or your childrenn, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory based upon authority is unreal and illusory.
    5 – Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
    6 – Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do, the opinions will suppress you.
    7 – Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once considered eccentric.
    8 – Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
    9 – Be scrupulously truthful, even when the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
    10 – Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

    I highlight number 8, there, because it is at odds with your attitude towards your matriarch.

    Perhaps it’s better to acquiesce (you would know far better than I), but I, personally, hope no one around me ever “respects” me too much to dispute me openly.

    One can disagree and still be respectful.

  21. dani p Says:

    if gore was elected, there would not have been a war. people are always saying that the war steamed from clinton, however, it was george senior that started this mess (gulf war). i know that florida was miss calculated! it was a scandle, and our economy is screwed because of it! bush put 4 supreme justices in office….so no matter who becomes president, we will be conformed to a republican view! i dont even know if i want to vote, WHATS THE POINT!!!!

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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