On January 29, 2008, I and many thousands of other Florida Democrats went to the polls to cast our vote in the Democratic primary. Now, four months later, as our primary season draws towards a close, I am told that I am "disenfranchised":
Should holding a primary a week early disenfranchise so many voters? asks one of the protesters.
I am told that I am being "punished":
"The votes of 1.7 million people should not cast aside for a technicality," said Clinton. "The people who voted did nothing wrong, and it would be wrong to punish you."
There's only one problem here. I am not being disenfranchised. I am not being punished.
Let me repeat that, for those of us who need to hear it again.
I, a Florida Democrat, am not being disenfranchised. I am not being punished.
You see, in the weeks leading up to our primary, we knew that our votes would not count towards the nomination of our party's Presidential candidate. We were told this, over and over again, ad nauseam. We were told by the pundits, we were told by the media, we were told by our own party: "This is a straw poll. It has no bearing whatsoever on the nomination process."
We knew. We entered the polling places on that balmy January morning (it is Florida, after all) fully cognizant of the fact that, due to our Republican-led legislature and the foot-dragging of our state Democratic party, our votes were for a straw poll, not for a primary election for the Democratic nominee for POTUS.
We knew. We stayed home in droves; I can personally name over a dozen registered Democrats who did not vote in the primary, because they knew the Florida delegation has lost its right to be seated. Tens of thousands of Democrats, backers of each and every candidate, said, "Why bother?" and skipped the polling places that day.
We knew. We cast protest votes and contrarian votes, rather than voting for the person we felt best fit to take on the Republican nominee in November.
And so now, when some Florida Democrats (and non-Florida Democrats) wring their hands and protest how these voters' rights are being trampled, my simple question to them is: Where were you in the months leading up to the primary? How could you possibly, with a straight face and a clear conscience, tell me that you didn't understand that your vote was for a straw poll?
And the simple answer to that simple question is: You can't.
You knew. But now, as our party struggles with internecine warfare and bitter partisans from both sides take increasingly strident tones, hurling invective like orangutans flinging poo, now you decide that you are owed a voice in this contest, a contest in which you gave up your involvement the day you allowed the Florida Democratic Party to say that they had to "prioritize what they work on to achieve the best they can for Floridians", a beautiful piece of doublespeak which essentially says that Democratic state senators and representatives had better things to do than to make sure we followed DNC rules.
There are no more excuses. If the DNC RBC decides to seat half of Florida's delegates, it is a boon, not a right. It is not something to which to we are entitled, and we should be furious at our state elected officials, not the DNC, for allowing this to happen.
Updated: Thanks for the rec list, guys! Those of you who live in south Florida should hopefully see a version of this in either the Sun-Sentinel or the Miami Herald sometime soon.