On Tuesday, millions of Florida voters will head for the polls. Being Floridians, many of them will become confused and drive into buildings, canals, cemeteries, other Floridians, etc. But some will actually make it to the polls, where they will cast ballots that will play a crucial role in the presidential election. Or, in the case of Democrats, not.
It turns out that the 2008 Florida Democratic primary doesn’t count. Florida will be sending the same number of delegates to the 2008 Democratic convention as Uzbekistan.
This may seem unfair, but there’s a simple, logical explanation: The whole primary system is insane. Consider the process so far …
First Iowa held “caucuses,” in which Iowans gathered in small groups at night and engaged in some mysterious Iowan ritual that for all we know involves having intimate relations with corn. Right after that, Wyoming had a primary, but it was only for Republicans, because Wyoming Democrats (apparently there are at least two) will hold their primary on March 8.
Most of the candidates ignored Wyoming and focused on the New Hampshire primary, except Rudy Giuliani, who’s following a shrewd strategy, originally developed by the Miami Dolphins, of not entering the race until he has been mathematically eliminated. After New Hampshire came Michigan, where the ballot listed all the Republicans, but only certain Democrats, including Chris Dodd, who had already dropped out of the race, but NOT including Barack Obama or John Edwards.
After Michigan came the Nevada caucuses, in which Hillary Clinton got more votes, but Barack Obama got more delegates. (If you don’t understand how that could happen, then you have never been to a casino.)
Then came the South Carolina Republican primary, which of course was not held on the same day as the South Carolina Democratic primary, which will be Monday. Then comes Florida, in which Republican voters will elect some delegates, although the total will only be half the number Florida was originally supposed to get.
Meanwhile Florida Democrats, as I mentioned, will have the same impact on their party’s nomination as if they fed their ballots to ducks. ...
How did we end up with this ridiculous system? We got it through endless petty squabbling, in both parties, over the issue of which states get to go first. That’s right:
When confronted with what should be a minor procedural problem, the leaders of our major political parties can’t even work intelligently with their own allies, let alone their opponents. This is why, no matter who wins in November, I am optimistic about the future of the nation. ...
So that’s the situation, Floridians. On Tuesday, it’s your turn to stand up and be counted, unless of course you’re a Democrat. But whatever you are, you should get out there and vote, even if you have no earthly idea what or whom you’re voting for, or why, because that’s what democracy is all about.
29 Jan 2008