UPDATE, SUPER TUESDAY, FEB. 15 2008: In the original post, I argued that Hillary Clinton's nomination was inevitable UNLESS people "recognize her campaign for what it is, and fight for fair primary elections as hard as they're fighting for fair general elections." Back then, I thought the biggest danger was moving the large states' primaries early in the primary season, which would give a huge boost to the candidate with the most money to buy TV advertising. (Small states, and states with caucuses, are won with local activists and grassroots work; large states and states with primary elections are won with big advertising buys.) Back then, HRC had the most money, by far.
I didn't foresee that Barack Obama would raise enough money -- largely, no matter what Hillary says, from grassroots donations -- to compete with her financially, turning it into the two-candidate race I hoped for. But I was correct that Clinton still may get the nomination because the primary process is unfair. The unfairness, it turns out, is in the Superdelegate system and in Hillary's switch from supporting the disqualification of Michigan and Florida, to stealth-campaigning in those states, to now pushing to have them seated (guaranteeing her the APPEARANCE of having won the popular vote).
If you'd like to read more -- and see the evidence; I always cite my sources -- about this, either visit VichyDems' home page and surf from there, or follow these links:
--On Superdelegates, and the Michigan/Florida problem: Feb 14, Feb. 14 again, CNN, and USA Today (but y'all open those last two in new tabs and come back here, OK?)
-- On HRC's History of Trying to Rig the Election Before it Even Began: March 8-9 '06, March 11 '06
--On why Obama is the more progressive candidate, including the overworked "but Lieberman is his mentor!" meme that even I fell for, a year ago: April 3, Updated Feb 10;
--On electability, and why electability really matters this time around (think: McCain appointing two more Republicans to the Supreme Court, making it 100% Republican for the next 20-30-40 years?): Feb. 9 , Feb. 4, Feb. 11, Feb. 12, and the Wall Street Journal today
--General lists of links on these topics: Feb. 5, Feb. 2
Hope this helps. Thanks!
Matthew Yglesias has a good, but incomplete, analysis of the Hillary juggernaut on his site. His conclusion is that her receiving the Dem nomination is not inevitable. Mine is that it IS inevitable unless people recognize her campaign for what it is, and fight for fair primary elections as hard as they're fighting for fair general elections. And, as I explain in a comment I left on Matthew's site, the current front line in the battle to make Hillary Just Another Candidate (which is my only goal, not to take her down completely), is the movement to move California, New York and Illinois to the front of the primary schedule.
There's been a slightly weird "speaking truth to non-power" moment recently in the blogosphere where MYDD's Chris Bowers has been joining Team HRC in trying to convince us all that Hillary Clinton has a daunting advantage in the upcoming primary race. I'm not buying it and neither is Jonathan Chait who notes correctly that her polling isn't nearly as good in the early primary states as it is in big, vague national polls...
You're forgetting the recent move, which I can't but be suspicious about, to advance big-market states like NY, CA and IL in the primary calendar. On its face, this sounds small-d democratic, letting states with large percentages of the nation's population help make the decision. But actually, it's the Iowa caucuses that are most democratic, because they let real people get down with the candidates as people, one-on-one. The only way a candidate can deliver a message to meaningful numbers of people in large markets is through large media buys, which cost more money than most candidates have early in the primary season.
The real impact of making the large states important, early, is that it will favor candidates with early money. Edwards can't compete in California's expensive media market the way Clinton can. In fact, no one can compete, financially, with Clinton. Which is why I am suspicious of the early-big-state-primary movement: it smells like an attempt by insiders to stack the decks in favor of HRC. Which, if true, would be just another instance of her un-small-d-democratic tactics to secure the nomination as by right, as opposed to by fair election.
If you're in one of the big states that's vying for an early primary, please contact your state representatives and explain why that's a bad idea for democrats and Democrats alike. If the Democratic Party can't let the small guys have a fair chance, rather than just the wealthy and well-connected, then what the hell are we really about?
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