Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Still Undecided?

As an independent voter I should not feel nausea over last night's Democratic primary results in Pennsylvania, but I do -- and not only because I'm an Obama supporter. There's just something wrong about the ability of so many people standing on the sidelines to decide the election for the rest of us. Here I'm referring first to those famed "undecided voters" who after dozens of debates and countless hours of television ads can't quite seem to make up their minds. And yes, these folks largely broke Clinton's way in yesterday's Pennsylvania primary.

That's pretty annoying since Clinton has run such a ragged and insulting race, adding "Kitchen Sink Campaign" to the lexicon of our Hall of Political Shame. Certainly she's forced the Obama camp to face issues that might otherwise have festered and metastasized until fall. But the condescending manner of her attacks, which undeniably worked in the large states, suggests that something is far more troubling about the state of our electorate. Call me an "elitist" (in the laughable vein of one attack against Obama) but reading a New York Times op-ed piece yesterday about the state of education in America inspires me to wonder just what kind of voters are gumming up the works. Here's a snip:
Ignorance in the United States is not just bliss, it’s widespread. A recent survey of teenagers by the education advocacy group Common Core found that a quarter could not identify Adolf Hitler, a third did not know that the Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom of speech and religion, and fewer than half knew that the Civil War took place between 1850 and 1900.
To be fair, some very bright and engaged people are also working overtime to produce an electoral result that is so convoluted that we may yet see a Republican victory in November. Here, I'm referring to the superdelegates who wait and watch while Clinton continues to grind herself and her party into the ground. As I've written before, the Democratic Party's policy of allowing each VIP-vote to count for about 13,000 "regular voters" is ridiculous. Moreover, I continue to believe that any result produced by the superdelegates that overturns the popular vote may destroy the party altogether.

And yet about 300 superdelegates remain undecided ("uncommitted" in their somehow less obnoxious terminology). Again, the candidates have had months to pummel each other, and these folks can't decide? We haven't heard nearly enough about Clinton's White House "experience" and Obama's promise of "change"? I'd just as soon have a series of regional popular votes and be done with the whole primary system. Of course, I'd ultimately prefer neither the folks who can't find China on a map nor party hacks obsessed with their own perks to make this call. Can't we depend upon a broad enough center of reasonably educated and engaged citizens to decide this race? No matter, the Democrats have chosen to assign their fate to an endless round of primaries and the caprices of the superdelegates. Thus even at the risk of contradicting my own despair at rule by the few on either pole, it's time for leadership.

Superdelegates must make up their minds. Now. Not next week or next month or in August. If they are going to earn their elite status, these VIPs have to stop testing the winds, get in front of the parade, and lead their party out of this mess. Otherwise, "undecided" may as well mean GOP.

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