January 14, 2008

"Information age of hysteria...

It's calling out to idiot America."

Hey there! Hope you had a good weekend. I got all my articles written yesterday, which is great! I have to get them proofread and ready to ship, along with a bunch of etsy orders. I have mountains of paperwork to do as well, sigh. Today I wanted to talk a little about politics, which I don't usually do, but I am confused...

It is probably apparent that I am Left leaning, politically, if you spend any time with me, or just by looking at the stuff I am into, you probably already can tell. So no surprises there. But my confusion and frustration is really more of a general political issue. Can someone help me understand the Michigan Primary, which is tomorrow? This is my first time voting in a primary, and I have been doing research and listening to the candidates, trying to make a choice. But just this weekend, I learned that for our primary, we have to first choose either the Dem or Rep ballot (or un-committed, I guess). Like I said, I would pick the Dem, but I was surprised to find out that we can only choose Clinton as a candidate. There are no other candidates on the ticket and we cannot write anything in. What is the point of a primary then, for a Michigan Democrat? This is what I am trying to understand. I thought it was a chance for the people to let their voices be heard about who they would support as a candidate in the most important office in the country. I am very frustrated. And I don't think there are any other issues to vote for, so what is the point of me showing up at all? I want to have the choice.

Maybe I am an idiot, and have been living under a rock. I thought I was aware, politically, somewhat, or more than most. I don't watch the local news (there is no faster path to depression, in my opinion, than Detroit local news...its all crime and cars) so maybe that is my problem. But I am really angry about this and I don't understand it, and I KNOW there are going to be a lot of really angry voters tomorrow. Dang it, I am one of those eternal optimists who desperately wants to believe the high school civics lessons about the system working and democracy and all that crap. And I am left feeling like it is crap, that it is a lie, and that the system is broken, at best. I feel irrelevant.

Am I overdramatic? Do any of you understand why the MI primary is like this? Can you help me get it? Have any news links? help!


  1. Wow! I am VERY left and I don't know why your primary is like that! I also have never had a voice in a primary election and like you have a chance to do so this year as well. My ballot had everyone listed and am asked to vote for my choice of Dem, Rep, and independent... AHHHH! Too many choices? I'll be thankful I have them and just shut up! May I ask who you were leaning toward?

  2. When I read this, I said to myself "Surely there must be some sort of misunderstanding," but a quick Google search showed that Michigan's primary does indeed have an incomplete Democratic ballot.

    I'm pretty mad over this, and I don't even live in Michigan. How can your state limit who you can vote for like that? Why even bother holding elections if the state can do this?

    Way to take away free choice, Michigan!

  3. Here's the short version of what happened:

    Together, Michigan Reps and Dems have been pushing for a primary system which allows states to go through a rotation of "who goes first". This stems from years of frustration over Iowa and N.H. virtually crowning the R&D candidates.

    It often happens that large population states (like MI) have little or no say in the nomination process because of the overwhelming coverage of small population states with little ethnic diversity (Iowa and NH). These 2 states traditionally choose first and candidates can die an early death there before most of the population has a chance to vote for them in a primary/caucus.

    According to Dem party rules no states other than Iowa, N.H., Nev., and S.C. can hold a primary/caucus before Feb. 5. Both Michigan and Florida challenged this rule, in an effort to allow other states to gain a voice in the process.

    As "punishment" for jumping our primary date ahead of the Feb 5 date, both DNC and GOP parties threatened to not recognise MI delegates (this would have meant that we vote in our primary but our delegates can't cast our votes at the Rep and Dem national conventions.)

    The heads of both Rep and Dems in MI took that chance, in effect calling the bluff of the DNC and the GOP. They were betting that the bad press from "ignoring" delegates from such a large state would prevent the DNC and GOP from taking away our delegate votes.

    Meanwhile Iowa and NH got nervous thinking that MI and FL could barge their way into being the first states to hold primaries this year. Less press coverage would go to Iowa and NH and a loss of revenue as the press and politicos would ignore them, going instead to MI and FL where there are far more delegates to be won.

    As a solution, the Dems in Iowa and NH asked Dem candidates to sign a "pledge" not to campaign in Michigan. The only major Dem candidates who did not sign the pledge were Hillary, Kucinich, and Dodd. The other major Dems wrote the MI Secretary of State and had their names officially withdrawn (as part of the pledge).

    Paperwork to allow yourself to be a "write in" candidate in MI had to be filed by the first week in Jan (not sure of the exact date). Not a single Dem candidate filed those papers. As a result, if you go to the polls tomorrow and write in "Obama" or any other candidate under the dem ballot, it will be viewed as a mis-vote.

    Luckily, the GOP went easier on MI Reps for our holding early primary. The GOP may strike a percentage of our delegates as punishment, I haven't heard for sure on that. But the Iowa and NH Repubs never asked their candidates to pledge not to campaign in Michigan or to remove their names from our ballots. That is why the Repubs still have a full ballot.

    So who should you blame? The democratic parties in Iowa, NH, and the candidates themselves.

    Michigan is pushing for a more equitable primary system for the entire nation. Iowa and NH simply want to keep to an old tradition which brings them income and over-representation in the process.

    BTW: Many Dems are recommending that instead of blindly voting for Hillary tomorrow, that you cast your dem votes for "uncommitted". This allows MI delegates to still cast a vote at the convention, although the MI-DNC decides for whom rather than the people. It isn't ideal, but at least it doesn't reward Clinton & Kucinich for simply being the only candidates on the ballot.

    Sorry it's not a short story but it's as concise as I could manage.

    Hope that helps.

    BTW, I haven't yet used the centrifugal casting machine. Will do so in the spring!!! Thanks again.

  4. Gaea,
    Yeah, its frustrating. I was really leaning more towards Obama or Edwards.

    I am angry too, especially because this was to be my first primary where I was actually somewhat educated and I was excited to do my part. Now I just feel defeated.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write all this. I read it a few times and I think I understand it a little, but my pea brain is still not fully comprehending. And even what I do understand, I am still like why?

    I appreciate you taking the time to tell me what you know...

    It's nice to hear from you and I look forward to seeing what you do with the casting machine! Keep in touch, ok?

  5. << So who should you blame? The democratic parties in Iowa, NH, and the candidates themselves. >>

    I don't want to start a political argument on Melanie's blog, but don't you feel that some blame DOES lie with Michigan and Florida?

    I agree with them 100% that the current system of Iowa and NH going first is wrong. But I don't think that this was the proper way to challenge it, because it's costing their voters the chance to vote for whichever candidate they want.

    I do hope that this leads to a change in how the primaries are done.

    (btw, I apologize for my previous less-educated post. After I woke up some more, I remembered WHY this was happening)

  6. No problem AJ, I love a friendly debate.

    Unfortunately, things like tradition are often the hardest things to change. Large states have been griping about this system for years, and the status quo remains.

    I do believe multiple petitions for this change have been filed on both sides of the aisle. I'm not an expert on the legal side, so I can't intelligently tell you where the legal battle stands.

    I have heard several interviews with both Saul Anuzis (MI-R Chairperson), Mark Brewer (MI-D Chair), Carl Levin (MI-Sen-D)and Debbie Dingall (wife of John Dingall MI-D-H.Rep) who all sound as if MI purposefully pushed the boundaries, daring the national committees to solve this problem immediately. To say it backfired is putting things mildly.

    But if Iowa and NH Democrats hadn't created this "pledge" we wouldn't be talking about disenfranchisement. And if the candidates had had enough backbone to stand and say "I stand for fairness" this wouldn't be happening either.

    Think about it. Iowa had 57 delegates up for grabs in their Dem caucus. NH had 22 to give the Dems. Michigan on the other hand has (or had I should say) a whopping 156 delegates to give out. Now where I come from 156 delegates beats 79 anyday. Any one of those candidates could have taken a stand on behalf of Michigan voters and we'd have rewarded them in kind. BUT THEY DIDN'T. (Including Clinton who sorta played it quiet, she didn't publicise that she was sticking by Michigan, she just let the deadline pass as if "oops, I forgot to take my name off the ballot").

    So we're stuck. Call it taking one for the team I guess. The idea to push for change was a good one, it just didn't work out the way the MI Dems planned.

  7. Yes please feel free to debate...I am still trying to understand.

    And I have the power to cut everyone's microphones off...bwaaa haa haa *evil laugh*

    I guess I understand the need for the change, but why Michigan, and why now? Is it because we are so likely to vote one way or other, so we can make the example? Because the last election was kinda close, wasn't it? I mean the 2004 election, it wasn't the biggest landslide in MI was it?

    I see Michigan as being in a really bad condition, and our voters should want to be heard. And I don't feel heard, that's for sure. I feel like I don't matter. This is why people get apathetic and don't vote at all. I don't know if I am going to vote tomorrow, and it stinks.

  8. My first reaction was also something like, "SHUT UP!" followed quickly by "WTF?!??!" So I blogged about it. :) Sadly, I'm nowhere closer to understanding it either. Sure, I *see* why they did what they did. But I don't see why it actually benefits the voters. Maybe I need to go take a civics class...

  9. Becca,
    Thanks for reading and for responding with your own post. It is confusing and now its election day and I am not really any closer to understanding. I am not sure what I will be doing today about the vote.

  10. Good questions Melanie.

    Why now? I first heard rumblings about this back when it was B.Clinton running for the D-nom. I was just starting to become politically aware at that point, so I'm sure it wasn't new even then. This has been coming on for a long while.

    Why MI? I have 3 ideas there, pure speculation on my part. First is that we have some seniority in the house and sen for the first time in a while. Levin, Dingall, Conyers are all pushers of changing the primary system. Big voices can push harder for change.

    Second is the sheer hell MI is going through. MI unlike every other state in the union is going through a depression (not recession, it's worse than that). And the powers that be aren't listening to us. Western states have camera control now with Pelosi and Reid, they're less than interested in talking about manufacturing issues which MI lives and dies by. So the idea of watching the candidates dance their way through small states pandering to white farmers was enough to get MI (& FL) serious about finally stopping the nonsense.

    Thirdly (serious speculation but I love this theory), MI almost had an ace in our sleeves. The DNC had Detroit on their short list for the site of the '08 convention. The DNC would never have stripped MI of it's delegates at a home convention, there'd be riots on Woodward if that happened. Remember, this was put into play long before the '08 site was announced. The DNC avoided that clash by choosing Denver, thus MI lost it's push power.

    What I really want to stress is please go and vote. Nothing looks worse than having a million people vote, because they care, even when they know their voices are being hushed. That makes for headlines you can't ignore.

    I read an interesting stat the other day. Michigan has more people on unemployment (370,000+)than Iowa had voters in it's caucus (334,000). That's astounding!!! Having our voice heard (even if it doesn't count) is SO VERY IMPORTANT!

    And also remember the snag on the Dem ballot. A write in vote will not count because Obama and Edwards did not file the proper paperwork to declare that they'd accept write in status. If you don't want to vote for Clinton or Kucinich you need to vote "uncommitted".

  11. Amy, thanks again for your thoughts. I will go out and vote today, probably uncommitted or Kucinich. I was thinking of choosing him anyway, but would have rather voted for one of the other two frontrunners because they actually have a chance.

    ok, and WTF is up with having a space for a write in and then disqualifying any ballots that have something written in? That is just WRONG! I really don't understand.

    Thanks for your thoughts...

  12. << And I don't feel heard, that's for sure. I feel like I don't matter. This is why people get apathetic and don't vote at all. >>

    It's so true :( I'm in my 20s, as are most of my local friends... And the majority of them don't vote. They either don't vote or feel like it doesn't matter if they do, thanks to things like this and the electoral college.

    I don't see why we can't have all the primaries on the same day, like we do with the main election. This current system is garbage. We all deserve a voice, regardless of what state we live in, and we all deserve to have the candidates care about our states, instead of the first few primary states.

    I'm so sorry that Michigan is getting hurt by this. I had no idea how bad conditions were there!

  13. Yeah!!! I'm glad you're going to vote! No matter whom you choose, it's important to be counted among those that cared enough to cast a vote.

    you wrote: "WTF is up with having a space for a write in and then disqualifying any ballots that have something written in? That is just WRONG!"

    That's a simple answer. Ballots were printed up in December.

    State law for decades has said that a candidate must submit in writing that they "will accept" write in votes. This prevents 500,000 write in votes for Crusty the Clown from counting in the primary process.

    The deadline for write-in paperwork was sometime in the first week of January, weeks after the ballots had been printed. No candidate from any party wrote the MI Sec of State to say they would accept a write in candidacy.

    If O or Ed had asked in writing to accept write in votes, then you'd have the space on the ballot to do so.

    I'm so glad you blogged about this! Hopefully our discussion encourages at least one person out there to take the time to vote. People have died for this right we take for granted. To apathetically stay home is to take their sacrifice for granted.

  14. AJ,
    Honestly, i have only been voting for the past few years, once W got in office, I started paying attention. I know that's terrible, but I was pre-occupied with college and work. And I totally know how it feels to not feel like you matter, politically. I don't even see it as apathetic or uninformed...I think young people are informed and a lot of times still don't see the point.

    Yeah Michigan is in a bad state. Everyone knows someone who is laid off or out of work, it is that the whole auto industry is in such bad shape and Detroit revolves around it.

    I have been doing my taxes for the last year, and I did really great last year, but I had to pretty much drop all my local sales and really push for website sales at the national/international level. If I was trying to base my business on the local community, I would never make it.

    Ok, I understand the tecnicalities about the write ins, but its still stupid as heck. I don't understand why the Dem party is punishing itself with the penalties. I think in the end it comes down to money, or that there are other more sinister things at work that I don't understand *puts tin foil hat on*. I just keep thinking of the Dem party as a snake eating its own tail.

    I am glad I blogged about it too, and in the end I am glad I voted. It is really not a point of being apathetic, like I mentioned to AJ eariler, it is sometimes really a matter of being so confused and frustrated by the system, and thinking you are irrelevant. I really understand how people can feel that way.