Rules and Bylaws: The Meaning of Michigan
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I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but I thought it worthwhile to post a recap of the RBC meeting yesterday.
First, the outcome: The Committee decided FL and MI will be seated--with both elected and super delegates seated at half strength. The FL delegation will be based entirely on the results of their January primary. And the MI delegation will be based on what the MDP thought would be the best approximation of a fair reflection of the will of the voters--which works out to be a 69-59 split (though each delegate votes at half strength).
A review of the importance of "fair reflection" may help folks understand why the RBC chose to accept a seemingly arbitrary number from MI.
Article Two Section 4 of the Democratic Party Charter requires that delegations to the National Convention "fairly reflect the division of preferences expressed by those who participate in the Presidential nominating process." That means you've got to make sure the delegates to the Convention actually match what people who "participate in the Presidential nominating process" want. This is a concept that Hillary's top advisor, Harold Ickes, emphasized when he argued that MI's delegation should be based on our January 15 Clusterfuck--he said repeatedly that this principle was as fundamental a principle as the First Amendment. And basically, Ickes' arguments were all premised on his judgment that the Clusterfuck was a meaningful measure of the preferences for President.
But it was on the basis of this "fair representation" concept that the MI presenters, Mark Brewer and Carl Levin, made their ultimately successful arguments. Brewer (who is a big numbers geek) basically looked at several reasons why the Clusterfuck could not be considered a "fair representation:" because Obama's and Edwards' names weren't on the ballot, because an exit poll showed that Hillary and Obama would have taken something like 45% and 35% of the vote (the results of the Clusterfuck were 55% Hillary, 40% uncommitted), and the high number of write-ins that were thrown out that reflected a desire to vote for Obama or Edwards. In other words, Brewer threw out a load of data that proved that the Clusterfuck did not measure a "fair reflection" of the preferences of those who participated in the Clusterfuck. And given the results, this argument must have been persuasive to the RBC committee.