Clinton can't have it both ways on democracy and delegates

So Hillary Clinton has spent the last 3 months talking about how Michigan and Florida should be seated because”their votes should count.” It is important that these states, and their voters, be represented at the convention in Denver.

Now she’s arguing that pledged delegates – those delegates that were allocated by the outcomes of the caucuses and primaries – are not bound to abide by the election results that earned them their seat at the convention.

“Every delegate with very few exceptions is free to make up his or her mind however they choose,” Clinton told Time’s Mark Halperin in an interview published Wednesday.

So just to make sure we get this straight: it is important that democracy happen – especially in Florida and Michigan – but it is okay if the elected delegates violate that democratic process by not voting for the candidate they were elected to vote for. And this is democratic because…

…it isn’t.

For Canadians this simple translation is this: Clinton wants to encourage delegates to be like David Emerson. To get elected for supporting one party/candidate and then to switch sides immediately following the election. It is appalling position and undermines the very notion of democracy. While her concern over the Michigan and Florida delegates was never genuine (just look at her remarks back in New Hampshire and Iowa) this only serves to further confirm what many of us fear – Clinton is willing to trade in any principle in order to win. It’s hard to be inspired by that.

28 thoughts on “Clinton can't have it both ways on democracy and delegates

  1. scott ross

    You may want to rethink this post.

    You do realize that there are actually different types of pledged delegates right? There are some that are locked in to who they were elected to vote for, and there are delegates who are free to choose regardless of who they were elected to vote for.

    So for Hillary to say that most pledged delegates are free to choose, she’s reiterating a fact of Party rules. Hillary Clinton was not the one you suggest being undemocratic, its the democratic Party, because all she was doing was stating a fact based on Party rules.

    Reply
  2. Lord Kitchener's Own

    Scott,

    You’re technically correct, but aren’t you being just a bit obtuse? Clinton’s goal here is clear. She wants to convince delegates from states that support Obama to ignore the vote in those states and support her.

    Is it allowed? Sure. Is it “within the rules”? Yes. Is it “democratic”? Hardly.

    Regardless, the point of this post still stands. Clinton can either champion “the rules” (by which delegates in many states can choose to vote for whomever they please, ignoring the will of voters, AND by which Florida and Michigan’s delegates cannot be seated because those states broke the rules) or she can champion “democracy” (by which delegates should be encouraged to vote with the will of the people, and the voters of Florida and Michigan should be allowed to re-enter the process somehow and be counted).

    What she wants is to have her cake and eat it too. She wants the rules followed where it means delegates ignore the will of the people and vote for her, but she wants them ignored where it means seating delegates that would support her that the party’s rules say are invalid.

    Of course, one can’t blame her for spinning so hard. She can’t catch up now in pledged delegates, and almost certainly can’t catch up in the popular vote, so she needs to convince super delegates to vote for her despite Obama having more votes, and more delegates. Making that happen is bound to involve engaging in contradictions (follow the rules here, ignore them in favour of “democracy” over here) but the inevitability of contradictions given her dire situation doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be called on the contradictions.

    Reply
  3. scott ross

    How am I being obtuse when I merely clarified that it is not Hillary being undemocratic it is the rules. You still suggest it is Hillary being undemocratic by following the rules, but by the same token Obama endorses the fact that pledged delegates can change as well.

    Now you suggest Hillary is choosing to follow some rules and not others. You make it all about Hillary, yet Howard Dean wants Florida and Michigan not to be left out as well. The DNC can’t alienate those two swing states, and thats why they are trying to come to a compromise. Even Obama is seeking a compromise. But by your reasoning it is therefore not only Clinton, but the DNC and Obama who are trying to break the rules.

    But no one is trying to breeak the rules, Clinton, the DNC, and Obama are trying to change the rules through the proper mechanisms.

    But regardless of all of this suggesting Hillary Clinton “violates democracy” by following Party rules, the same Obama follows, is ludacris and wrong.

    Reply
  4. scott ross

    You may want to rethink this post.You do realize that there are actually different types of pledged delegates right? There are some that are locked in to who they were elected to vote for, and there are delegates who are free to choose regardless of who they were elected to vote for. So for Hillary to say that most pledged delegates are free to choose, she’s reiterating a fact of Party rules. Hillary Clinton was not the one you suggest being undemocratic, its the democratic Party, because all she was doing was stating a fact based on Party rules.

    Reply
  5. scott ross

    You would have to suggest it is not only Hillary, but the DNC, and Obama who endorse Party rules of allowing Pledged delegates to change, but at the same time want Michigan and Florida to in some way count. But you don’t. On this point you attack Hillary baselessly.

    Reply
  6. Lord Kitchener's Own

    Scott,You’re technically correct, but aren’t you being just a bit obtuse? Clinton’s goal here is clear. She wants to convince delegates from states that support Obama to ignore the vote in those states and support her. Is it allowed? Sure. Is it “within the rules”? Yes. Is it “democratic”? Hardly.Regardless, the point of this post still stands. Clinton can either champion “the rules” (by which delegates in many states can choose to vote for whomever they please, ignoring the will of voters, AND by which Florida and Michigan’s delegates cannot be seated because those states broke the rules) or she can champion “democracy” (by which delegates should be encouraged to vote with the will of the people, and the voters of Florida and Michigan should be allowed to re-enter the process somehow and be counted).What she wants is to have her cake and eat it too. She wants the rules followed where it means delegates ignore the will of the people and vote for her, but she wants them ignored where it means seating delegates that would support her that the party’s rules say are invalid.Of course, one can’t blame her for spinning so hard. She can’t catch up now in pledged delegates, and almost certainly can’t catch up in the popular vote, so she needs to convince super delegates to vote for her despite Obama having more votes, and more delegates. Making that happen is bound to involve engaging in contradictions (follow the rules here, ignore them in favour of “democracy” over here) but the inevitability of contradictions given her dire situation doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be called on the contradictions.

    Reply
  7. scott ross

    How am I being obtuse when I merely clarified that it is not Hillary being undemocratic it is the rules. You still suggest it is Hillary being undemocratic by following the rules, but by the same token Obama endorses the fact that pledged delegates can change as well. Now you suggest Hillary is choosing to follow some rules and not others. You make it all about Hillary, yet Howard Dean wants Florida and Michigan not to be left out as well. The DNC can’t alienate those two swing states, and thats why they are trying to come to a compromise. Even Obama is seeking a compromise. But by your reasoning it is therefore not only Clinton, but the DNC and Obama who are trying to break the rules. But no one is trying to breeak the rules, Clinton, the DNC, and Obama are trying to change the rules through the proper mechanisms. But regardless of all of this suggesting Hillary Clinton “violates democracy” by following Party rules, the same Obama follows, is ludacris and wrong.

    Reply
  8. scott ross

    You would have to suggest it is not only Hillary, but the DNC, and Obama who endorse Party rules of allowing Pledged delegates to change, but at the same time want Michigan and Florida to in some way count. But you don’t. On this point you attack Hillary baselessly.

    Reply
  9. KC

    Scott – The Party RULES also say Florida and Michigan. Its not Barack Obama being undemocratic, its the party. Hillary has to live with that.

    Reply
  10. David Eaves Post author

    Hi Scott, thank you for the posts.

    I encourage people to read the CNN article – it cites the rule in question which states that delegates “shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.”

    The spirit, if not of the letter, of the rule is quite clear.

    Reply
  11. Lord Kitchener's Own

    Wow.

    Clinton supporters are really starting to see the writing on the wall, eh? Can’t win more delegates, can’t win more votes, throw the kitchen sink at ’em.

    I don’t see what’s not clear. Clinton wants anti-democratic rules that say delegates don’t need to follow the way their state voted to stay the same, and anti-democratic rules that say Florida and Michigan’s delegates don’t count, to be changed. I’m by no means suggesting that Clinton is “being” undemocratic, the rules were set by the DNC, not Clinton, that’s for sure. I’m simply saying that her “democratic” rationale for not disenfranchising the voters of Michigan and Florida is wholly inconsistent with her rationale for disenfranchising the voters of other states by allowing delegates to ignore their state’s voters simply because those are the rules. If Obama came out and pointed out that we should just ignore the voters of Michigan and Florida because “those are the rules” Clinton’s camp would scream bloody murder, but Clinton points out that many of the delegates themselves are allowed to ignore the voters of their states, and it’s all hunky dory?

    Both rules are arguably “undemocratic” rules, but Clinton seems only interested in changing one of those rules in the middle of the race, not the other. It’s arguably undemocratic to ignore the voters of Michigan and Florida (even though those are the rules) and it’s arguably undemocratic for delegates to be allowed to ignore the voters of their states (even though those are the rules). But Clinton seems to be saying “Don’t disenfranchise the voters in Florida and Michigan by not counting their delegates (as per the rules) but DO allow voters in other states to be disenfranchised by continuing to allow delegates elected to support Obama to “follow their conscience” and vote for Clinton (again according to the rules).

    Two rules (Florida and Michigan voters get no delegates according to the rules, delegates don’t all have to follow the voters according to the rules) but Clinton is only interested in changing the one that will help her, and not the other. Now, if Obama were calling for delegates to be forced to follow the will of the people, and not make up their own minds, that would be hypocritical too (since he clearly would like the rules to stay the same for Florida and Michigan). But he isn’t (yet) saying that.

    Obama’s simply said he’d abide by whatever the DNC decides to do (even if they decide to change the rules post facto). He’s staying quiet about Florida and Michigan (admittedly, because it’s to his advantage to have them not count), and I’d imagine he’ll stay pretty quiet about the notion of delegates voting against the will of the voters of their states. Why? Because he’s winning, and it’s almost impossible for Clinton to catch up.

    Especially if they don’t change the rules in the middle of the race.

    If they change the rules and allow Michigan and Florida to vote, even though the rules say they can’t (on the basis that the people should be heard) then tell me, should we not also change the rule that says delegates can ignore the vote of their state and vote for whomever they want to (on the basis that the people should be heard)? If it’s a travesty for the party to ignore the voters of Michigan and Florida, is it not equally a travesty for the party to allow delegates to ignore the voters in their state, and substitute their own judgment for that of the voters?

    I tend to think the Dems SHOULD find a way to make sure the voters in Florida and Michigan are heard. But if they’re going to change the rules in mid stream to accomplish this, they might as well also change the rules which allow other delegates to ignore the voters of their state.

    Fair’s fair.

    Reply
  12. scott ross

    Okay, you didn’t respond to my main criticism, you are only suggesting Hillary is being inconsistent, when OBAMA and the DNC are being JUST AS INCONSISTENT. I said “it is not only Hillary, but the DNC, and Obama who endorse Party rules of allowing Pledged delegates to change, and at the same time all three want Michigan and Florida to in some way count.”
    So your argument against Hillary applies to Obama and the DNC in the very same way.

    Reply
  13. scott ross

    Eaves: I read the article but I also know the democratic party’s rules and the letter of the law not some story says that some pledged delegates can vote as they see fit.

    The CNN article even stipulates that delegates are to foremost vote based on their conscience to represent the people who elected them. And as time can change between being elected to having to vote, and as Obama or Hillary can present new positions, so can delegates judge whether which candidate is best representative of the reasons why that delegate was initially elected.

    If you are to imply the spirit and even the letter of a law is represented in any form, I suggest you actually look at the law in question.
    -scott

    Reply
  14. KC

    Scott – The Party RULES also say Florida and Michigan. Its not Barack Obama being undemocratic, its the party. Hillary has to live with that.

    Reply
  15. justin

    I remember one site put it something like this: Clinton’s dream situation here would be for an African-American who had won the votes needed to win the nomination to then be denied that nomination by people voting in the opposite manner in which they have pledged. Would the democratic party really do that?

    Reply
  16. David Eaves

    Hi Scott, thank you for the posts.I encourage people to read the CNN article – it cites the rule in question which states that delegates “shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.”The spirit, if not of the letter, of the rule is quite clear.

    Reply
  17. Lord Kitchener's Own

    Wow.Clinton supporters are really starting to see the writing on the wall, eh? Can’t win more delegates, can’t win more votes, throw the kitchen sink at ’em.I don’t see what’s not clear. Clinton wants anti-democratic rules that say delegates don’t need to follow the way their state voted to stay the same, and anti-democratic rules that say Florida and Michigan’s delegates don’t count, to be changed. I’m by no means suggesting that Clinton is “being” undemocratic, the rules were set by the DNC, not Clinton, that’s for sure. I’m simply saying that her “democratic” rationale for not disenfranchising the voters of Michigan and Florida is wholly inconsistent with her rationale for disenfranchising the voters of other states by allowing delegates to ignore their state’s voters simply because those are the rules. If Obama came out and pointed out that we should just ignore the voters of Michigan and Florida because “those are the rules” Clinton’s camp would scream bloody murder, but Clinton points out that many of the delegates themselves are allowed to ignore the voters of their states, and it’s all hunky dory? Both rules are arguably “undemocratic” rules, but Clinton seems only interested in changing one of those rules in the middle of the race, not the other. It’s arguably undemocratic to ignore the voters of Michigan and Florida (even though those are the rules) and it’s arguably undemocratic for delegates to be allowed to ignore the voters of their states (even though those are the rules). But Clinton seems to be saying “Don’t disenfranchise the voters in Florida and Michigan by not counting their delegates (as per the rules) but DO allow voters in other states to be disenfranchised by continuing to allow delegates elected to support Obama to “follow their conscience” and vote for Clinton (again according to the rules). Two rules (Florida and Michigan voters get no delegates according to the rules, delegates don’t all have to follow the voters according to the rules) but Clinton is only interested in changing the one that will help her, and not the other. Now, if Obama were calling for delegates to be forced to follow the will of the people, and not make up their own minds, that would be hypocritical too (since he clearly would like the rules to stay the same for Florida and Michigan). But he isn’t (yet) saying that.Obama’s simply said he’d abide by whatever the DNC decides to do (even if they decide to change the rules post facto). He’s staying quiet about Florida and Michigan (admittedly, because it’s to his advantage to have them not count), and I’d imagine he’ll stay pretty quiet about the notion of delegates voting against the will of the voters of their states. Why? Because he’s winning, and it’s almost impossible for Clinton to catch up.Especially if they don’t change the rules in the middle of the race.If they change the rules and allow Michigan and Florida to vote, even though the rules say they can’t (on the basis that the people should be heard) then tell me, should we not also change the rule that says delegates can ignore the vote of their state and vote for whomever they want to (on the basis that the people should be heard)? If it’s a travesty for the party to ignore the voters of Michigan and Florida, is it not equally a travesty for the party to allow delegates to ignore the voters in their state, and substitute their own judgment for that of the voters?I tend to think the Dems SHOULD find a way to make sure the voters in Florida and Michigan are heard. But if they’re going to change the rules in mid stream to accomplish this, they might as well also change the rules which allow other delegates to ignore the voters of their state.Fair’s fair.

    Reply
  18. scott ross

    Okay, you didn’t respond to my main criticism, you are only suggesting Hillary is being inconsistent, when OBAMA and the DNC are being JUST AS INCONSISTENT. I said “it is not only Hillary, but the DNC, and Obama who endorse Party rules of allowing Pledged delegates to change, and at the same time all three want Michigan and Florida to in some way count.” So your argument against Hillary applies to Obama and the DNC in the very same way.

    Reply
  19. scott ross

    Eaves: I read the article but I also know the democratic party’s rules and the letter of the law not some story says that some pledged delegates can vote as they see fit. The CNN article even stipulates that delegates are to foremost vote based on their conscience to represent the people who elected them. And as time can change between being elected to having to vote, and as Obama or Hillary can present new positions, so can delegates judge whether which candidate is best representative of the reasons why that delegate was initially elected. If you are to imply the spirit and even the letter of a law is represented in any form, I suggest you actually look at the law in question.-scott

    Reply
  20. justin

    I remember one site put it something like this: Clinton’s dream situation here would be for an African-American who had won the votes needed to win the nomination to then be denied that nomination by people voting in the opposite manner in which they have pledged. Would the democratic party really do that?

    Reply
  21. Christian Idicula

    I’m going to side with David on this one. The spirit is a higher calling than the letter. It should take something so stunning as to alter course of humanity (perhaps that’s an exaggeration) to convince the delegates to vote any other way than the people have indicated. Even amongst the superdelegates this should be true. Whether for Clinton or Obama, their vote should be cast for the people’s choice. Otherwise we face a crisis in democracy where desires of an “elite” override the voice of the people. Vox populi vox dei.

    Reply
  22. Christian Idicula

    I’m going to side with David on this one. The spirit is a higher calling than the letter. It should take something so stunning as to alter course of humanity (perhaps that’s an exaggeration) to convince the delegates to vote any other way than the people have indicated. Even amongst the superdelegates this should be true. Whether for Clinton or Obama, their vote should be cast for the people’s choice. Otherwise we face a crisis in democracy where desires of an “elite” override the voice of the people. Vox populi vox dei.

    Reply
  23. Charles

    I think it’s a bit desperate to go after pledged delegates but it’s not undemocratic.

    What if this were a 3 way race? Then at some point some pledged delegates are going to have to vote for a candidate they weren’t pledged to.

    Also, what if we find out something about Obama (between now and the convention) that would make him unelectable? Then I think it would be imperative to vote for the next most viable candidate.

    Reply
  24. Charles

    I think it’s a bit desperate to go after pledged delegates but it’s not undemocratic.What if this were a 3 way race? Then at some point some pledged delegates are going to have to vote for a candidate they weren’t pledged to.Also, what if we find out something about Obama (between now and the convention) that would make him unelectable? Then I think it would be imperative to vote for the next most viable candidate.

    Reply

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