Thursday, January 31, 2008

Narrowing the field

In the last post I put up about the presidential race I indicated my hope that both parties would result in brokered conventions. There are a few different reasons I'd like to see the races go to the conventions without actually selecting the nominees, and I'll get into them below. Unfortunately, it looks pretty unlikely at this point. The Dems are down to the two rockstars, with bublegum popstar Edwards pulling out. On the Rep side, Rudy's great "late state" strategy fizzled and that race is becoming more and more about McCain and Romney.

Could they still hit the conventions split? Certainly. Edwards and Richardson are being actively courted for their support, and they could bring enough to one side or the other to keep the two Dems from reaching the magic number. On the other side, Huckabee it still in it, as is Paul, and while neither of them is drawing large voting blocks they could serve as spoilers and keep the total votes down. Alternatively, if Huckabee were to pull out and throw his support to Romney it might lead to a split between the religious wing of the party on one side and the military/defense wing on the other (with Rudy's endorsement, McCain has the hawk's in his pocket.)

Why am I so hot for brokered conventions? First, going the distance actually allows most people in the country a voice in selecting their party's nominee. The two-party system is still restricting of political choice, but at least there is a chance for the public the shape the argument if there is a hard fought primary between candidates with different opinions/attributes. Next, having the convention serve as a nominating platform rather than an anointment of a pre-selected candidate can energize the party, something the Dems at least are in massive need of. After nominating slightly animated corpses for the last two general elections they have a chance at doing something different, and the energy from a hard-fought convention could send their nominee out ready to fight. Finally, at least in a short list, a hard-fought convention gives a chance that the larger concerns of the nation will play a role in making the platform. When a candidate walks into the convention as the nominee, their platform (with a few changes to appease the party) is taken as the platform. The logic being that the nominee one more primaries than the other candidates, so their vision must match what the party membership believe. Well, it might match the party, but as we've seen in the last two general elections, the twp parties are splitting the electorate. If a candidate, from either side, wants to get into office and actually accomplish any of the massive changes that we need to move forward they will need to do it with the backing of at least some of the members of the other party. Fighting for delegates at the conventions means that the "electability" argument will be front and center, and there could be some push to recognize the planks of the platform that are 1) ridiculous and 2) keeping cross-over votes at arms length.

Could be.

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