Why Even Have A Convention?

By Jay S. Jacobs, Nassau County, NY, Democratic Chairman, Pledged Hillary Delegate

I finally get it. After more than 33 million votes cast in 51 primaries and caucuses over five months of intense campaigning and media scrutiny, with 3167 delegates having been elected, apparently, no one ever intended for there to be a “nominating” convention. Not the politicians, not the pundits, not the press. Just the people – they thought that they were getting a nominating convention.

I always figured that the nominating convention was to actually nominate the candidate who garnered the most support among Democrats. A bonus would be if that candidate was, as well, able to get elected in the general election. Well, while we can argue about whether or not Hillary or Barack have the most popular votes (depending upon which states you chose to include or exclude), there is no question but that Hillary has garnered more Democratic votes. The exit polling in states with open primaries demonstrates that. But that is not what this contest has ever been about. From the beginning, at least with many in the press and politics, it’s been all about getting rid of Hillary Clinton – any way possible – as quickly as possible. Maximize and emphasize her short comings, minimize her assets and attributes. Overplay her failures, downplay her successes.

The reality has been getting clearer with each passing day but really crystallized with Hillary’s universally criticized reference to Robert Kennedy’s assassination in June of 1968. Hillary was using an example for historical reference, among others, in response to critics who want her to drop out (“this thing has been going on for way too long”). She pointed out that there were many examples of contested races continuing into the summer. The condemnation was loud and swift and, typical for this year’s primary season, equally ridiculous.

Hillary broke the cardinal rule of today’s politics. Even utter a phrase that can be remotely connected to something offensive and, presto, the press finds it offensive (with a little help from your opponent). While Hillary’s reference was merely historical, the anti-Clinton press and Obama campaign became hysterical. How dare she reference such a tragedy? The press and Obama campaign emphasized how offensive this was in light of the legitimate concerns over Obama’s safety, as if referencing an historical fact somehow increases that threat. How crass can they become in trying to run someone out of this race?

For months there has been a constant drum beat to get Hillary out of the race. It started after Iowa. It gets louder and then quieter depending upon the outcome of ongoing contests. When Hillary loses or doesn’t exceed the pundit’s expectations, the calls are deafening. When Hillary wins or exceeds expectations (oops, that has never happened) the “political experts” pipe down for a bit finding clever ways to minimize the success. “It’s too little, too late”, we’re constantly told. “There’s no clear path to victory” for her. “It’s a mathematical improbability.”

After Hillary won Indiana (by too small a margin) and Obama won North Carolina (“convincingly”) Tim Russert and others anointed Obama the “presumptive” nominee. With neither having obtained the requisite majority of total delegates, with hundreds of delegates yet to be elected or having not declared their intentions, with hundreds of other “Super Delegates” having chosen but free to reverse their choice, the pundits are telling the public that it was over. Yet, we had to wait until 1:15 AM for the Mayor of Gary, Indiana to release Lake County’s votes in order to be sure, unlikely, though it was, that those votes would not overturn what looked like a Clinton victory before CNN and others would “declare” Indiana for her. On that remote possibility we had to wait – but on the off chance that the remaining contests and remaining “Super Delegates” would turn smart pundits into not so smart pundits – for that there is a mad rush to end this thing and avoid that uncomfortable inconvenience.

Let’s not overlook Hillary’s 41 point landslide a week later in West Virginia followed the next week by a 36 point “thumping” in Kentucky. Oh, yes, of course, that’s just Appalachia – that shouldn’t really count, after all.

So, I would like to know from the real “deciders” if now is not the right circumstance to take a contest to a convention, under just what scenario is it the right circumstance? When you have two excellent candidates, divided by just a hundred thousand votes or so after 33 million have voted, with 150 delegates between them, more than 3600 having been decided, neither having attained the requisite number to declare a win, isn’t that what a convention is supposed to be for? And, if the answer is “no” than I’d like to hear when the answer would be “yes.”

And, if the answer is that there really isn’t ever a time that we would want to take a contest to a convention, might I suggest that we just dispense with the whole thing and save everybody a lot of time and money. If it’s a coronation we want, why not just plan a huge rally, say, on the waterfront on a hot day in Portand, Oregon. Maybe we can bring in a few rock bands – let’s get Bon Jovi and Springsteen and a couple of local bands to warm up the act. Even better, in keeping with the sophistication and spirit of how it seems we’re conducting our elections these days, why not ask Howard Dean to step aside for that event in favor of Ryan Seacrest?

Posted by permission of the author.

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One thought on “Why Even Have A Convention?

  1. This whole media circus has been ridiculous. Sen. Clinton has not only the right to stay in the running until the convention; she should. It’s pretty sad when a field of viable candidates either cannot be found or drop out early. I think McCain is weaker for being stranded out there on his own. Huckabee was not a real contender for him, despite some kind of popularity. Nobody really thought there’d be President Huckabee. It says something about our democratic republic that we really don’t seem to like elections very much. Just let the media appoint the winner and be done with it. Is that what Nathan Hale died for?

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