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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Andy Martin says the Democratic Party’s presidential selection process is undemocratic and a disgrace to democracy

Andy calls on Democrats to reform their presidential candidate selection procedures. He says Hillary Clinton should battle to reform primaries and eliminate caucuses.

Executive Editor

“Factually Correct, Not
Politically Correct”




(CHICAGO)(March 6, 2008) There is something fundamentally sick about the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate selection process. The Democratic Party has become a disgrace to American democracy. Whether Hillary Clinton chooses to fight with lawsuits in Texas and other states, or whether she wants to take her claims to the convention floor in August, she should do so.

Clinton won two big state primaries convincingly on Tuesday. She won Ohio by 10 points (54-44). She won a solid 4-point victory in Texas (47-51). Wednesday afternoon Barack Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe said that all of Clinton’s victories amounted to nothing; she gained only 4 delegates out of the 370 selected. Something stinks.

The Republican Party’s rules seem a little harsh. Almost every state has Republican winner-take-all primaries. A winner-takes-all system quickly eliminates all but the strongest candidates and brings the process to a quick conclusion. The Democrats go to the opposite extreme: it is impossible for voters to influence the outcome because each primary means almost nothing and votes are rigged in ways that are impossible to decipher. In short, the Democrats’ selection process is neither democratic nor transparent.

Take Texas. Why would any state hold a primary, where people get to cast a real vote, and then negate that vote by making people vote a second time in an unorganized election with no controls or supervision by state officials? Why? Clinton did not win a photo-finish. A four point spread is a solid win. But Clinton may have received fewer delegates than Obama, because of the way votes are undercounted in majority areas and overcounted in minority neighborhoods. What kind of an "election" is that? Where the winner gets fewer delegates than the loser? That’s racism in reverse. Whites and Latinos were disenfranchised.

The Clintons have complained about states that hold caucuses, and properly so. In a state where the state government conducts an election, there is early voting (for people that may have schedule conflicts), absentee voting (for people that may be away from the state), and voting-all-day to accommodate every individual preference. In short there are maximum opportunities for a citizen to be heard by casting a vote.

In caucus states, meetings are held at strange locations, usually at strange hours, most often in the evenings, thereby disenfranchising working voters. This from the so-called party of the “people?” What people? The procedures in caucus states are antidemocratic and disenfranchise workers and citizens with reasonable conflicts such as second-shift jobs and other ordinary scheduling dilemmas. Again, is this democracy, American-style? From the so-called party of the “people?” I think the United States imposed a more democratic system on the people of Iraq.

Mind you, the foregoing deficiencies are entirely separate from the controversy over “super-delegates,” and the messes in Michigan and Florida. In other words, even where there is no controversy about the way the process was conducted, the outcomes of caucuses and primaries are rigged in ways that prevent majority influence.

On the question of super-delegates, Obama has demanded that they vote the way their districts voted. But if the voting-by-district is rigged, as we have shown above, why should super-delegates defer to a rigged process? Why bother to have “super” delegates if the decisions are predetermined by factors and voters over which the super-delegates have no meaningful control and no role? Clearly, if super-delegates are to be retained, they must remain independent voters cast by informed party leaders based on the totality of the process, including special respect for the outcome of the final primaries.

As for Florida and Michigan, some way must be found to allow these states to be represented at the Democratic convention. Maybe it is time to jettison the monopoly that Iowa and New Hampshire have on the presidential process. The Republican Party, once again, adopted a more practical outcome to the challenge of Michigan and New Hampshire, and thus that party faces none of the conflicts and confusion faced by the Democrats.

A day after the election, we still don’t know what happened at the Texas “caucuses.” And the chain of custody for “votes” at those rump meetings is not under the control of state officials. In many states we have been unable to learn the results in a timely fashion, because there are mysterious formulae which are used to “refine” (read “fix”) the selection process. Even the mainstream media can’t agree on how many delegates each candidate has.

I happen to think that some form of proportional allocation can be reasonable, but only if the formula is plain, straightforward and totally transparent, unlike the current secret, rigged and clandestine process, particularly in caucus states.

The bottom line: the selection procedures for Democratic Party presidential candidates are rigged, fixed, and grossly undemocratic. If Hillary Clinton really wants to serve the people, she should demand “one person, one vote,” and seek to reform and eliminate all of the crooked procedures that contaminate democracy in so any states from coast-to-coast.

One person, one vote. And counted, not ignored!


Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and media critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of © Copyright by Andy Martin 2008. Martin covers regional, national and world events with over forty years of experience. He has been a candidate for U. S. Senator from Illinois. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. Columns also posted at; Comments? E-mail: Media contact: (866) 706-2639.


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