One year ago, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) seemed poised to win the Democratic presidential nomination in more of a plebiscite than an election.
But now that Clinton is no longer the frontrunner, she has resorted to underhanded political tactics, and her recent push to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan—states that violated the Democratic National Convention’s rules —threatens Democratic unity when it is needed most. If Clinton loses the upcoming primaries in Texas and Ohio, she should drop out of the race rather than risk splitting the party.
When Florida and Michigan attempted to inflate their political importance by pushing their primary dates ahead of February 5th, Super Tuesday, the DNC stripped them of all their delegates and the candidates, including Clinton, agreed not to campaign in either state. Clinton ended up winning both primaries, although in Michigan she was the only major candidate who chose to remain on the ballot.
Clinton is currently 91 delegates behind Obama (D-Ill.), according to CNN, and counting Michigan and Florida’s 366 combined delegates is seeming more and more appealing to her campaign.
She is encouraging her delegates to ignore the DNC’s decision and vote at the convention to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates. This means that even if Clinton loses the next major contests in Ohio and Texas, she could try to override popular will in the party and become the nominee.
Although she is trying to spin her lobbying as the enfranchisement of Florida and Michigan voters, this is nothing more than a transparent ploy to increase her delegate count. Many Democrats in Florida and Michigan decided not to participate in the primaries because they assumed their votes would not be counted. To change the rules after the results have come in is unfair and dishonest; it’s unlikely Clinton would be crusading to count these states if she had lost their primaries.
Her actions, far from showing compassion for the disenfranchised, betray Clinton to be calculated and contemptuous of the DNC’s agreed-upon procedure.
Clinton’s divisive tactics are the last thing Democrats need in the 2008 election. Instead of in-fighting and backroom deals, they should be striving to live up to their messages of hope and unity.
On her campaign website, Clinton writes, “America is ready for a leader who will make fair and honest elections a priority.” If Clinton wants to be that kind of leader herself, she must stop trying to get the Florida and Michigan delegates counted. If the Ohio and Texas still decide not to give her the nomination by voting for Obama, she should bow out with dignity.