Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I am at home in between my summer course and my summer "consulting" job. I am incredibly tired and could have used a nap. Instead I used most of my time writing a short note to a friend who posted the following status online:

...unbelievably upset Hillary won the popular vote & not the nomination.
I have not really been political here. However, I have followed the campaign very closely and I have pondered the process. I mainly have not written because I never felt like I had the time or energy to invest in the arduous process of verbalizing the complexity of my thoughts and opinions. So rather than do a superficial or half-assed job, I just left it alone.

My friend's comment just pushed me into writing to her because she is extremely intelligent, however, she was buying into a media promoted rhetorical line. I don't know how she will respond, but it was time I entered into the discussion. So here is my note...

Just wanted to comment on your status. Before I start, I just want to disclose that I am supporting Obama. I was on the fence for a long time, though. And while I did vote for him in the NY primary, I was still quite amenable to either candidate. Recent behavior has soured me towards her, but more her campaign staff. I have always considered Terry McCauliffe a weasel, but that is beyond the point.

Don't fall for campaign rhetoric [propaganda?]. The truth of the matter is that you cannot count up the popular vote the way the primary is structured. Here is why:

1. Caucuses are not regular elections. Thus vote totals are often not even reported, rather they are estimated. However, if you are going to claim to count every vote, you can't ignore those votes.
2. If you are going to count popular votes, the votes need to be cast within a short time frame. There are people who would change their votes later down the line. That is why we have election day not election week or election month.
3. Michigan, which gets included in HRC count, was a mess. You can't honestly believe that no people in MI voted for Obama, Edwards, or any other. Write-in ballots were discarded.

I could go on. The point is that there are countless ways to count the popular vote so that whichever side you are on wins.

The system stinks - it is unclear and complicated. It is not democratic by any means. In fact, it is designed to give the establishment the upper hand. Ironically, before the primary campaign started, there were attempts to streamline and cleanup the system and it was HRC people that blocked that change (Harold Ickes in particular). Why? Because it seemed that the system favored them. They were the establishment. When she started to do poorly, they thought they could rely on the "super-delegates", and it was only when that started to fail, did they begin to advance the "popular vote" line.

Think about this, if HRC has such a strong popular backing, why is it that Obama has been able to greatly out-fund-raise her. More so when you see the bulk of his contributions coming from small donors (i.e. the popular vote).

It has been an ugly campaign and it really has shown the real problems in the system. I hope this pushes the party to change the primary process.

I do feel for Hillary and all her supporters. She has worked hard to get to this point and I can't imagine the disappointment and frustration to have come so close. We are way overdue for more women in leadership at all levels, including the presidency.

I hope you can put your disappointment and frustration into a broader context. Both candidates are advancing the same important issues that the Republicans are trying to minimize. The way the system was set has played its way through and we have a candidate. Trying to change that at this time will only be counter-productive to the broader goals.

I offer you this perspective, rather than think of the number of popular votes each side received, think of the number of total voters that have been engaged and mobilized for the whole party. If we think of ourselves as one group, one movement, one people, then not only will we win in November, but we can begin to address all the issues challenging our country.

I hope I am not alone in my optimism. There is always a danger in being an optimist...

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