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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Sunday's Debate in Detroit
is the subject of a Detroit Free Press article today. As with many newspaper articles, it is a hodgepodge of useful information, confused logic, and missed opportunites.

An example of the confused logic comes in the title and subtitle: Democrats vie for state's favor: But most watchers likely won't vote in Michigan February caucus. That strikes me as true but largely irrelevant. First, since the debate will be carried nationally by Fox News, most watchers will likely not be from Michigan. Since the article then goes on to say that ratings for the debate are likely to be low (especially if there's a World Series game seven on the main Fox network channel), the point I think they were trying to make was about the lack of interest among most Americans at this point. They didn't explore the issue, but I think it would be more accurate and relevant to say that many or most of those who will vote in the caucus will be watching.

The article then discusses the relative merits of party-run caucuses versus state-run primaries, and closed versus open primaries. I was most dismayed by this quote about the need to identify yourself as a Democrat in order to vote in the caucus:

"It's a caucus, so you know what you're getting into," said Wendy Waggenheim, spokeswoman for the ACLU of Michigan. "If you're not a Democrat, why are you going?"

I'm an ACLU member, but this strikes me as exactly the wrong attitude. Wendy is suggesting that if you're not a Democrat, you don't have a right to any preference except choosing between aWol and whoever may emerge from the Democratic race. I'm not a Republican, but I voted in the 2000 Republican presidential primary. I knew then (although not nearly to the degree that I know now) that Bush was far and away the worst possible choice. I didn't vote for McCain in order to screw the Republican party; I did it in the interest of the country. I probably was helping the Republicans, come to think of it. McCain would have been a much better candidate than Bush, and probably could have actually won the election against Gore. Frankly, as long as we have the corrupt two-party system, I think everyone should have the right to vote in BOTH primaries.

Personally, I think the two-party system is anathema to democracy, and needs to be abolished. It's criminal that someone can be as bad a president as Bush is and end up with only one challenge to his rule, in November. On a practical note, I'm still disappointed that Wesley Clark didn't declare himself to be a Republican and challenge Bush for the nomination. I'd love to see Clark on the ballot in 2004--as the worst choice, not the best.