Monday, May 21, 2007

Business of politics & Florida follies

The worst thing to be said about early twenty-first century politics is, like so much else that is wrong with America these days, that it is mired in free market fundamentalism and infantileism.

For your examination, the Los Angles Times reports:

WASHINGTON — For front-runners Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, Florida looked to be a major battleground in the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

But now, because of an unexpected glitch, those delegates could go to a candidate most Americans don't even know is running: a crusty former senator from Alaska named Mike Gravel. Or maybe to Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, the quixotic peace candidate who barely registers in the polls.
I guess things aren't all that bad if Florida's Democratic delegates go to either Gravel or Kucinich. The problem stems from the fact that Florida Democratic politicians, like California and Illinois Democrats, feel that their state is being left out of the party's presidential nominating process; by the time their state primary comes around it's all over but the shouting. America's more populous states loath little Iowa and New Hampshire's presidential political clout.

What leaders, or at least the business-minded among the Dems, in America's more populous states may also be jealous of is Iowa getting an economic windfall due to the early caucus. After all, Iowa is not a tourist destination in January by any stretch of the imagination. And I have heard Iowa Democrats say that an overriding reason for keeping the early caucus date is to bring dollars into the state. All those professional Democrats and Republicans from out of state need to eat and sleep, and Iowa's restauranteurs and innkeepers are more than happy to oblige. And it keeps illegal immigrants toiling in the food service and hotel/motel industries working and out of sight.

But, y'know, television news crews and presidential candidates would rather be in Flordia than Iowa or New Hampshire in January so

...Republicans in the Florida Legislature — supported by many Democrats — pushed through a measure setting Jan. 29 as the date for their state's presidential primary. Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, is expected to sign the bill.
See the rub is that the Democratic National Committee has a rule that says that, following the Iowa and the new Nevada caucuses, and the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, no state primaries can be held until February 5 of 2008. And there are other DNC rules that strip presidential convention delegates from any candidate raising funds in a state which jumps the gun on the primary season. And since there's oodles of campign contributions to be gathered in Florida, Hillary, Obama, John Edwards and Bill Richardson just can't resist making the rounds of the retirment centers, trailer courts and nursing homes to squeeze a few more shekels out of elderly New Dealers.

Of course Florida's legislative Republicans absolve themselves of any blame. "I don't think anybody made us aware of that until the very end of the process," said Marco Rubio, the Republican state House speaker. *wink*wink*

And, of course, the state's Democrats are only interested in carrying out the will of the people:
"If the choice is Florida is relevant and has no delegates versus being irrelevant and having delegates, I'd choose being relevant with no delegates," said [Jeremy Ring, a Democratic state senator from Broward County and co-sponsor of the legislation]. "We did this so 18 million Floridians could take part in the presidential primaries, not so a few hundred people can go to a party in Denver."
So I say, go for it, State of Florida! Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich can use the support.

No comments: