WASHINGTON -- The Democratic National Committee voted today to strip Florida of all its presidential convention delegates, threatening to leave the state without a vote for the party's 2008 nominee unless it delays the date of its presidential primary election. - LA Times
I have a message for the DNC: Ignore my vote in the primary and you risk losing it in the general election.
It's that simple.
If your goal is to win elections, party division is a dumb strategy. Punishing Florida voters for the state's primary date - a date not set by voters - is not only a dangerous game played by backward-looking party insiders, it reflects a misreading of today's political realities.
Despite the DNC's heavy-handed efforts at maintaining the status quo, the winner of Florida's primary will be propelled into a strong position to capture the party's nomination. Recognizing that, any candidate with a prayer of winning Florida will ignore DNC ultimatums and will continue to campaign and raise money in Florida. So much for the DNC power play.
[Sept. 1 update: Further compounding a grievous political error, the party's major candidates promptly capitulated to the wishes of the DNC, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina - a monumental error of judgment.]
Face it, the party's inability to see past Iowa and New Hampshire didn't work in 2004 and it won't work any better in 2008. Whether or not the DNC knows ass from elbow, though, the party's eventual nominee will need to unite the party through the inclusion of all delegates - including Florida delegates - if the damage is to be ameliorated.
Blaming Florida Democrats (or even Florida Republicans) for upsetting the DNC applecart will not attract a single voter to the party's candidates. If committee members cannot see that, you can never formulate a solution to the primary conundrum. Clinging desperately to rules that you created to preserve your own imaginary power is a certain path to your irrelevancy - a struggle perhaps similar to corporate media's failed attempts to hold back the internet tide.
I will not vote for a Republican in 2008. Saturday's DNC decision, however, weakens my faith in the Democrats' ability to lead the country out of Republican hell. If party leaders allow this DNC decision to stand, the party will suffer the consequences at the polls, and deservedly so.
Do not tell me today that party discipline trumps my vote, then pretend tomorrow that you represent my interests. And when you lose the support of party regulars like me, we all lose.