Following West Virginia’s primary vote example, Arkansas voters are fixin’ to deliver a message to the Democratic party today. Tennessee lawyer, John Wolfe, was running a mere 7 points behind Barack Obama in recent polls of the Democratic presidential primary there.
Oh, I know that a lot of people are going to call the voters of Arkansas racists or, even worse, conservatives. But in 2008, Arkansas voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton and, well, we saw how that turned out at the convention. So, maybe, they’re not racists or conservatives. Maybe they’re just pissed that their primary votes last time meant absolutely nothing to the DNC and they are trying to communicate their extreme displeasure with the suck ass job that Barack “I would give myself a B+” Obama has done in the intervening four years.
The DNC has told Arkansas straight out that it doesn’t matter who it votes for in the Democratic primary, Barack Obama is getting all of the delegates. Yep. They say he hasn’t complied with the delegate assignment rules. I’m not sure the voters really give a flying f^&* what the delegate rules are. They just want to register their discontent and be counted. As I recall, it was the DNC’s robotic adherence to The RULZ!, while feverishly working to undermine them, that lead to Obama’s nomination in the first place, voters for the other candidate be damned. But that’s the official decision. Which leads me to wonder why states all over the country spend millions of taxpayer dollars to stage a primary where the results have already been determined by the party. That’s money that could be used to hire some teachers or pave some roads or repair bridges or pay for some poor kid’s asthma medication.
It’s also just hints at what Katiebird has been saying about how the party could make a change in the lineup if it wanted to. If primary results are meaningless and the party has decided who will get the delegates, then that means that if they get enough of these messages from primary voters who are disgusted with Obama, they could have a serious discussion with their candidate and maybe even bring in a relief pitcher.
Nothing is certain, not even Obama’s name on the ticket, until the balloons drop at the convention. That’s not being a fantasist or crazy. That’s seeing an opportunity to put pressure on the party that most other activists seem to have missed. You don’t have to settle.
But one thing is for damn sure, if the party ignores its voters during primary season this year, they may not have a chance to make amends before the general election in November. And there’s no amount of bad mouthing Romney you can do to make them ignore their anger at the party and Obama. If I were the party, I’d get out front of the problem early and find out exactly what it is that voters want. Because Arkansas is not an isolated example. Kentucky is also having a primary today and while Wolfe isn’t on the ballot there, voting “uncommitted” is an option. Then there’s Texas next week where Wolfe is on the ballot, and New Jersey in June where write in candidates are allowed. Guess who I’m writing in? So, there are plenty of opportunities left for voters to slow the party down from rolling right over them.
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
I read this post yesterday at Digby’s about how the Democrats have made themselves a party of special interests and now the rest of the country is rejecting it. While I understand the hypothesis, I disagree with it. It just gives progressives an excuse to whine that no one understands them and all the good stuff they are trying to do.
The problem with this argument is that in 2008, the party had a humongous opportunity to break out of the perception that it is beholden to special interests but it passed on it. By electing Clinton, they would have gotten back all of the working class people (by the way, that would include everyone not working on Wall Street). The biggest pull they had was that millions of women from both sides of the aisle would have voted for her. And this is why what happened to the party in 2008 was a self-inflicted wound that has festered: women are NOT a special interest. Women are 53% of the population. By electing Hillary, they would have acknowledged that fact. By electing Obama, they aerosolized their base into a bunch of competing factions and then proceeded to gleefully neutralize the power of those factions. The party has now become exactly what Digby fears it is. It is perceived as being the refuge of the culturally disenfranchised groups who have no power and are completely at the mercy of the party fundraisers. Those fundraisers have all the real power to direct policy, and they have- for their own benefit. Without the money, Obama and the party is left to pander for the support of the groups it has gone out of its way to weaken in the past four years. And the rest of the country, under stress economically is just tired of the austerity, unemployment and their dismal future prospects. Republicans have seized on this situation by pouncing on those disenfranchised groups making it necessary for Obama to go after them, albeit weakly, and that makes him look even more beholden to them while paradoxically not being able to offer them much more than lip service. It’s a fricking disaster.
The struggle is not between the liberal Democrats and the rest of the country. The struggle is between the liberal Democrats and the moneyed interests that have taken control of the party. The rest of the country *loves* liberal policies like Medicare and Social Security. They’d love a modern New Deal initiative too, if only the party had a candidate who would put one together. That’s never going to happen as long as one weak president is beholden to the guys who funded his campaign the first time. With Obama, we get the worst of all worlds. He’s a moderate Republican disguised as a liberal Democrat. Karl Rove couldn’t have designed it better.
It could have all been avoided if the DNC had actually allowed a real roll call and floor fight at the convention in 2008 instead creating the false illusion that one candidate was soooooo far ahead of the other that there wasn’t a contest. Too late to redo 2008 but 2012 is still available, and as we have seen above, primary votes are fungible to the Democrats…
As for whether African Americans would have abandoned the Democrats, I have my doubts. *Maybe* the party might have lost the male portion but African American females would have won with either candidate. I think they would have come around. Then there were all of the Republican women I met when I was canvassing and phone banking who couldn’t cross lines in a closed primary but were determined to vote Democrat in the general. That would have been more than historic. That would have been a complete cultural shift and we missed it.