Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Undeciders

The Democratic primaries are serviing to provide some excellent entertainment for those of us who are interested but don't care who wins, which is close to being a null set, to be sure. All Democrats are almost by definition interested, and most interested Republicans would rather have either Hillary out of the way in the primaries or would rather face her than Obama. I don't care who wins, since there's a nickel's difference between them substantively.

And that seems to be the way the Democratic Party primary system is structured. Since they all have the same policies, the Party bosses don't care who wins.

Or rather, they don't want anyone to lose. The totally proportional delegate system is serving to prolong the primary race. The Republicans have managed to select a winner and have begun the process of unifying behind Senator McCain. The Democrats, however, have not.

The winner-take-all primaries and media-driven momentum of herd voting are a classic positive feedback system, in which the slightest push one way or another tends to be decisive of the outcome. Like a marble balanced on knife edge, as long as two candidates stay even, the system is stable and no one is the clear winner. But once a few things start to break for one candidate, victory is near. And so it was with the Republicans this year.

But with proportional delegate selection, there is enough negative feedback for the system to correct itself and get the marble balance again -- so no winner emerges.

The Democratic Party likes this situation, since no one has to lose and get their feelings hurt until it's time to come together at the week of debauchery they call a convention to form a consensus as a community of all stakeholders. They like it so well, in fact, that they build in superdelegates to make sure no one like Obama gets too far ahead of the movers and shakers. Why, you ask? Now that could be anyone's guess.

And those movers and shakers, led by Mrs. Clinton, will be sure to make sure that all the votes in Michigan and Florida are counted. Won't they? Well, all of the superdelegate votes, anyway.

Don't get me wrong: I like that system. It has flare. It has intrigue. It has compassion. It's just not very democratic.

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1 comment:

David M said...

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