The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Michigan, Florida, and reality maps

We have a perfect opportunity to look at what I consider to be dishonest thought patterns in connection with politics. The Michigan and Florida votes, and the different way Clinton and Obama followers look at it, is great. Let's assume that people on either side are equally honest and intelligent. Their different thought patterns would make sense given that, if one assumes that "the perception of an advantage will cause schetoma.
Now, if I understand this, the state parties in Florida and Michigan decided to move up their primaries. The DNC said "no" and said that their delegates would be stripped. The nominees agreed with this, and not to campaign. And agreed to have their names removed from Michigan and/or Florida. Hillary's remained on in Michigan, and Obama and Hillary were both on in Florida.

Hillary supporters say that since Obama ran a national ad, it broke the agreement in Florida. Obama's people say that it was all right with the DNC.
Hillary wants the votes in Michigan and Florida counted, saying it would be unfair to the voters, and bad news for the party in November.
Obama's people agree with the possibility of a Do-Over
##'s what I think. If I were a Hillary supporter, I might hope that my argument to seat 'em would be taken...but I'd also think that Obama was the biggest sucker God ever let live if he let it happen. And I'd know that if the shoe were on the other foot, Hillary would be screaming "play by the rules." This is politics as usual. I would HOPE that Obama wouldn't make the same argument...but I can't say for sure.

I can understand someone thinking
1) They should be seated.
2) They shouldn't be seated.
3) There should be a do-over Primary
4) There should be a do-over caucus.

But what I CAN'T see is someone saying that someone who has a different opinion has no point at all. And if I'm a Hillary person, and can't see how a good, honest and intelligent person could consider it unfair to seat those delegates? In my opinion, I'm being dishonest. That what you're looking at point blank is the way partisan thinking cripples morality. If the shoe were on the other foot, I am SURE that some Obama supporters would make the same arguments. And it would be just as dishonest. I am disappointed that Clinton is making it, and I would HOPE that Obama wouldn't. But cannot say.

So...when you are listening to radio or television commentators trying to push their point of view, or reading blog entries, or whatever...look for the percentage of people who say "they should be seated" not as if it is an intelligent option, or as if they would like it because it's an advantage for the home team, but say it as if IT IS THE ONLY HONORABLE WAY TO VIEW the situation. Their reality maps have, in my opinion, been warped by the desire to win...or they are straight-out lying.
And your question of the day is: where in your life have you seen a sane, otherwise honest and honorable person warp events horribly, and lie to protect an advantage or fragile self-perception?


mjholt said...

I understand rules. I understand putative punishment for breaking those rules. However, this act disenfranchised all the voters in MI and FL. Disenfranchising voters is perhaps the greatest "sin" we have in the USA. Our votes should be sacred, and they should be accurately counted. That is the reality map that we need to follow.

Disenfranchisement is how we got to where we are today. It is the reason I am so angry over Bush's "election" and "administration." People able to study the last two elections are continuing to find evidence that both Gore and Kerry won both the popular and the electoral votes. There are plenty of nut-cake sites, but this one is legitimate:

Steve Perry said...

Heard a commentator on CNN last night address the Florida and Michigan question. Want to do it fairly and make sure the people in those states aren't left out?

Split the delegate counts right down the middle, half to Hill, half to Rocky.

Neither side would like this, but it would bypass the costs of repeated primaries. Of course, it wouldn't address John Edwards, but it would deal with one of the candidates who was always odds-on to be the nominee.

Interesting idea.

Steven Barnes said...

I'd go with splitting them down the middle. I agree that they shouldn't be disenfranchised. I personally think a do-over is the fairest thing. It's a ridiculous problem, but the idea would be to have an idea that either BOTH sides love, or NEITHER side loves.

Anonymous said...

where in your life have you seen a sane, otherwise honest and honorable person warp events horribly, and lie to protect an advantage or fragile self-perception


I'd say in my 27 year long marriage
for about all but two weeks of it

excep that
"otherwise honest and honorable person"
probably exempts it

I must say
he has been honorable
for the last 15 years of separation
much moreso
than ever in the marriage

Mark Jones said...

My preferred solution is for the DNC to stick to the rules as originally decreed: the votes simply don't count. NOBODY gets the delegates from those two states. The states went ahead with these early primaries knowing the DNC would exclude their votes; they have no kick coming. Obama and Clinton both knew the states' votes weren't to be counted; they should have no complaints either. It also neatly avoids arguments over who played fair and who didn't, and the necessity for a do-over.

If that means that the convention turns into a floor fight, well...the DNC made that bed when they "outlawed" those primaries and now they can lie in it.

Steve Perry said...

"... where in your life have you seen a sane, otherwise honest and honorable person warp events horribly, and lie to protect an advantage or fragile self-perception?"

I think this is trick question. People who warp events horribly and lie might be sane, but the "otherwise honest and honorable" caveat is a rough cob applied here. If not actually an oxymoron, it certainly is hard to reconcile.

Outside the white lie -- do these pants make my butt look big? -- somebody who warps events and lies is neither honest, nor honorable, if you believe that a drop or three of white paint in the black turns it to gray, albeit might be hard to discern.

Of course, our world is seldom purely stark, and gray is the major hue we live in.

Yep, we've all made mistakes, and sometimes managed to get back to the mostly straight-and-narrow afterward, and one bad act might not a villain make; still, I'd recast that question a bit.

Pagan Topologist said...

I just realized...if the Florida and Michigan delegates are not seated, that should change the 2025 number needed for nomination.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that it was not the Florida Democrats who decided when the primary should be , but the state legislature. It is also the state that pays for the primary. It would be unreasonable to ask the Republicans in the state to pay for Democratic do over so there is a real question of whether this can be done unless the DNC is willing to finance it. Even if Hilary doesn't decide to contest the non-seating of Florida delegates an angry group of disenfranchised Florida voters could easily contest the DNC's right to disenfranchise them. This could throw the Democratic nomination into court and wouldn't that be a mess. Basically the DNC has screwed up and it is not a question of the fairest way to fix it. It is a question of the lesser of evils.

Marty S

Daniel Keys Moran said...

Florida's run by a Republican legislature -- they're the ones who scheduled this, specifically to screw up the Democratic primaries. Not an accident.

As to whether it's right or wrong for the state of Florida to pay for a do-over ... heh. Couldn't matter less. The same Republicans who screwed Florida Dems to begin with would be the people who'd need to vote funds for a revote. I wouldn't care to calculcate the odds on that.

Frank said...

I have no idea why Obama would agree to having the delegates seated OR having a do over. It can only hurt his chances for the nomination.

Having said that I think it would be hilarious if the DNC decided to have a do-over, disregarding the Obama campaign's objections and Obama sued on the grounds of....

wait for it....

Bush v Gore.

Frank said...

Dan Moran said

Florida's run by a Republican legislature -- they're the ones who scheduled this, specifically to screw up the Democratic primaries. Not an accident.

Too funny: The Democrats screwed the pooch and it's the Republicans fault?

Are you saying the Democrats voted against moving the primary up? Are you saying it was the Republican's idea and that it wasn't done at the request of the Democrats?

And exactly who was it that stripped the offending states of all their delegates?

You know, the Republicans had to punish Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Wyoming for moving their primaries up before the RNC approved date.

How did they solve the problem?

Frank said...

For the record:

I introduce you to Florida State Senator Jeremy Ring of (can you believe it?) Broward County

Daniel Keys Moran said...

Hey, Frank. Who'd you vote for in 2004? C'mon, you can tell us it was the frog murderer. :-)

Thanks for the links; I do like your blog, I still stop by and read it occasionally. I don't even always disagree with it -- the next time that happens I'll post and make a point of it. :-)

It's true Democrats voted to move the date of their primary earlier -- but the date itself was (apparently) set by the Republican Senate -- as near as I can figure out with a few minutes Googling. Democrats twice tried to alter the date to a later date, and failed both times in the Republican controlled Senate.

That said, the RNC response to this was infinitely smarter than the DNC response. Credit where due.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

Oh, and Steve, your question -- never that I can recall. We all have our moments -- I've known honest and honorable people to lose their tempers and do dreadful things as a result.

Naming no names, I've known honest and honorable people whose ability to think rationally flat out ceased in the presence of the right drug or the right drink or the right lay -- "honest and honorable" isn't necessarily the same thing as strong-willed.

And I've seen people -- honest, honorable, who I thought were wildly wrong about something (voting for Firecracker Frog Boy, maybe) ... and maybe you could say they were lying to themselves, but you couldn't really say they were lying in any way their forebrains knew about.

But to knowingly lie through your teeth about something of import, when dealing with others who are operating in good faith, isn't honest or honorable, so ... to quote Steve Perry ... you've got an oxy-something or other there.

Those not operating in good faith are fair game, of course, though you do have the judgement call of figuring out if someone's erratic, fragile, screwed up, or actually hostile. If you've got an accurate read, then in handling the enemy all things are permitted, in proportion to the enemy's intent and actual threat.

Frank said...

Dan Moran,

I did not vote for Kerry. I voted (obviously) for Bush.

And not because I thought Bush was so great, but because given the way I see the world he was better than Kerry.

Now I blame the Democrats for not being able to get Reagan Democrats back into their fold. They did a pretty good job in the 2006 elections of fielding candidates that could get elected, but of course they weren't happy with the results when they couldn't get the whole caucus to vote against the war.

I have argued for a long time that since Kennedy, the Democrats have moved too far to the left to win national elections. Bill Clinton is the exception that proves the rule: He ran to the right of most Democrats and had a spoiler in Perot. Still, he did not win either election with a majority.

I have also argued for a long time that the Republican Party is moving left and taking the position vacated by the Democrat Party of the first half of the century. (most recently here)Someone said on another list yesterday that McCain was really a Democrat.

I said good. Finally a Democrat I can vote for.

Frank said...

Uh oh. This can't be good

Michael Canfield said...

Well the proof of your argument here Steve, seems that prior to the start of primary season there was NO groundswell demanding the voters of Florida and Michigan be enfranchised. If there had been, then why would the candidates have pledged not to campaign in these states, it makes no sense.

What also make no sense (with the benefit of hindsight) is that stripping these states of delegates was not asking for huge trouble down the line. But back then Clinton was so far ahead of the pack that no one imagined the nominee wouldn't be picked by California and New York on Super Tuesday.