Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cheapening the Cause of Democracy

I've noted before that almost everyone in the reality-based community has had a moment in the past decade or so when they realized precisely how malign the right wing in this country has become; and that for some it was the impeachment, for some it was Florida in 2000, for some it was the start of the war and for some it was Katrina; and that for me it was Florida in 2000.

Which is why it turns my blood to steam to hear Clinton say things like this:
And we believe the popular vote is the truest expression of your will. We believe it today, just as we believed it back in 2000 when right here in Florida you learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren’t counted and the candidate with fewer votes is declared the winner. The lesson of 2000 here in Florida is crystal clear — if any votes aren’t counted, the will of the people isn’t realized and our democracy is diminished.
Set aside the fact that the cases aren't remotely comparable, for a dozen reasons (e.g.). Clinton is only leading in the popular vote if you don't count any of the votes in Iowa, Nevada, Maine, and Washington, or any of Obama's voters in Michigan.

In other words, it is Clinton who is arguing for votes not to be counted.

And for her to then compare that to the election theft which began the Worst Presidency Ever!

(She also compared the exclusion of the Michigan and Florida delegates -- which her campaign, and she herself, agreed to before the fact; in elections that neither candidate campaigned in and for one of which Clinton was the only candidate on the ballot -- to the disenfranchisement of African Americans before the Voting Rights Act. Which is objectively far more disgusting, but hits me less hard personally because I didn't live through that particular injustice.)

Clinton is right about one thing: voter enfranchisement is one of the core principles of the modern Democratic party, from the Voting Rights Act to the theft of the presidency in Florida 2000 to the numerous Republican attempts to disenfranchise voters this very year. And for her to claim that cause for herself, when it is she who is trying to overturn an election which she has lost, is not only morally obscene, but sullies that very cause, turning a noble calling into a base attempt to overturn an election she has lost.

Clinton (and, even more, her surrogates) have done a lot of genuinely foul things this election season. But for personal reasons, this is the one that makes me the angriest.

How dare she. How !@#$%ing dare she.

Shame, shame, shame.

Update: Also, what Josh Marshall said:
...there are actually numerous quotes from the Senator herself saying those primaries didn't and wouldn't count. Michigan and Florida were sanctioned because they ignored the rules the DNC had set down for running this year's nomination process. The evidence is simply overwhelming that Sen. Clinton didn't think this was a problem at all -- until it became a vehicle to provide a rationale for her continued campaign. Now, that's politics. One day you're on one side of an issue, the next you're on the other, all depending on the tactical necessities of the moment. But that's not what Clinton is doing. She's elevating it to a level of principle -- first principles -- on par with the great voting rights struggles of history...

...There are very good reasons to think Sen. Clinton won't take this to the convention, even as today she suggested she might. But that's sort of beside the point. What she's doing is not securing her the nomination. Rather, she's gunning up a lot of her supporters to believe that the nomination was stolen from her -- a belief many won't soon abandon. And that on the basis of rationales and arguments there's every reason to think she doesn't even believe in.
...I can't add anything; I'm too angry to type. Shame, shame, shame.

Update 2: More from Steve Benen. And from Ezra Klein:
But it's wrong to think of this as a continuation of her primary campaign. This is a new effort focused on the general election. She's now pursuing a political strategy meant to defeat Obama and ensure the party regrets his nomination. She will do this by convincing voters in Florida and Michigan that his campaign has wronged them and should be severely punished. It's an attempt to poison the well, to deny his campaign 44 electoral votes, or about 1/6th the total needed to win. That's a take I've resisted for a lnog time, but it's the only plausible explanation left. The Obama campaign has expressed a willingness to seat Florida and Michigan's delegates, and do so largely as the Clinton campaign wants. Yet Clinton continues to compare a procedural decision she supported to Zimbabwe and Birmingham. She continues to sow resentment and anger against the likely Democratic nominee over a decision she supported. Where I once was solidly dismissive of the idea that Clinton was setting herself up for a 2012 run, now I'm agnostic. In any case, it's clear she's trying to set Obama up for a 2008 loss.
One thing to note is that Klein, while now an Obama-supporter, was on the fence for a long time. And Benen, as he points out in the above-linked post, has defended Clinton against a lot of the more nefarious interpretations of her actions.

-- Until now. Clinton's lost some very genuine moderates. This really should matter -- whether or not it will, of course, is an open question.

What's needed now is for some hard-core Clinton partisans to step up and tell her to knock this shit off. Clinton supporters among the opinion makers in both traditional and new media could help here. Political friends and allies would be even better, of course. We may really need all of them.

There is a special level of hell currently being prepared for Ralph Nader for his actions in 2000. Clinton is getting really, really close to reserving herself a seat right beside him. If Obama -- FSM forefend -- looses in November, she may have just bought herself a one-way ticket. Unless she acts now -- really quickly, and really, really strongly, without any doubt, for the next six months. Someone -- a lot of someones -- need to tell her this.

Update 3: Kos has a round-up of reactions, including the above-linked pieces but other posts as well. But I still haven't seen signs of it going mainstream in the way that would really affect matters. Alas.

Update 4: Hendrik Hertzberg -- who is not only one of the deftest political commentators currently writing, but also one who (to his immense credit) has kept the flame of his anger over the election theft in 2000 burning bright and cold in the years since -- writes about the popular vote, and Clinton's claims about it, explicitly in the context of the 2000 dispute in the current New Yorker. If you've read this far down in this blog post, it's definitely worth reading.

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