I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Civil War Within The Political Parties

The race to the political party’s nominations has turned into an entertaining affair. On the Republican side, Senator John McCain has steadily climbed in the polls and the delegate count since early January. He now leads the delegate count by a wide margin over former Governor Mike Huckabee. McCain also received another boost this week with former opponent and Governor Mitt Romney. Romney, as you may recall, suspended his campaign after a poor showing on Super Tuesday. At the time, he made no explicit endorsement for any other candidates. That changed on Thursday, when he officially endorsed Senator McCain, and asked that his delegates vote for the senator at the Republican Convention this summer.

McCain has not had an easy ride to the nomination. Conservatives, myself included, have derided McCain for his positions on illegal immigration, his opposition to the tax cuts of Bush’s first term, his forming of the “gang of 14”, and his cosponsoring of the dreadful McCain Feingold Campaign Finance Reform bill. He has made comments recently that seem to suggest that he has changed his mind on illegal immigration; and he asserts that his opposition to the tax cuts was based on there was no accompanying spending cuts. On those 2 points I will give him the benefit of doubt, but on the other points I still take issue.

The “gang of 14” was comprised of 14 senators, equally from both parties, that would cross party lines on judicial nominees. It was in response to the stalemate in the Senate over the President’s judicial nominees. I wanted to see the Republicans in the Senate stand up and fight for the nominees, forcing the Democrats to actually attempt a real filibuster. Instead, we had the “gang of 14” which caved into the Democrats wishes and prevented many great judges from ever getting a real chance.

The McCain Feingold Campaign Finance Reform bill was sold as a means to get the money out of politics. Does anyone see the money that was taken out of politics? Don’t we see just as much money if not more money being spent in the election season? The biggest result of the reform bill has been to make it harder for the incumbent politicians to be unseated from their thrones of power. How else do you explain a measure in the bill that does not allow any advertisements against a candidate within 30 days of an election? Take that along with the shifting of the money around, incumbents have been even more difficult to send them back to the private sector.

With all of that being said, Senator McCain is head and shoulders above either one of the candidates from the left side of the political spectrum. Senator Obama holds a slight delegate lead over Senator Clinton. He was the big winner on Super Tuesday and has continued to roll since then. Senator Clinton’s campaign appears to be in trouble, but they maintain that they will win Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in a few weeks. They believe that they will win those states and will turn the tide of momentum back in their favor. I believe Giuliani thought that would happen in Florida for his campaign; and Thompson bet his campaign on South Carolina. Giuliani and Thompson are both back in retirement.

One, usually minor, aspect of the Democratic nomination is the role of super delegates. A super delegate is a party official or elected official within the Democratic party. They are also counted towards the nomination. There is a behind the scenes campaign for these crucial votes that could turn the entire nomination on it’s head. There are approximately 800 super delegates that could put a candidate that has won a slight majority of delegates on the losing side at the Democratic National Convention. Super delegates pledge their support throughout the primary season, but they are not bound to their pledge, they are after all politicians. They can switch their support at any time to another candidate. At the moment, Hillary has a lead of about 80 super delegates over Barack. Can you imagine the hysteria that will ensue if Obama goes into the convention with more delegates won than Hillary, but Hillary ends up with the nomination because of the super delegate count?

One other interesting note of concern is the delegates from Florida and Michigan. Those delegates will not be counted in the final tally for the nomination, because of their primaries being moved forward. The DNC has said that they will not count the delegates. At the time of the decision, the Clinton campaign agreed with the decision, but now that she is trailing, will they start to call for those delegates to be counted? Clinton won both Michigan and Florida and she just may need those delegates to win the nomination. I believe that if it is still a close race by the time the summer rolls around, the Clintons will begin to talk about how it is unfair to the people of Michigan and Florida to not have their voice heard. The Reverend Al Sharpton has already promised to demonstrate outside of the DNC offices if they allow Florida and Michigan delegates to be counted. The Clintons are not accustomed to losing and they will do everything under the sun to try to regain their power. The question is, if they succeed, will there be a Democratic party left when the dust finally settles from this nomination process?

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