It’s not easy being the one who has to enforce the rules — but if they don’t get enforced, then what kind of message does it send to people?
Case in point: the states (like my home state of Michigan) that tried to test the rules by moving their primaries to earlier in the year than the national parties wanted them to.
For months, there was a lot of discussion in the media about how the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee were going to punish the states who ignored the rules and voted early. Then there was some waffling by the Democrats who seemed to feel bad about having to enforce the rules (and were taking a public-relations hit with the voters who were suddenly feeling very disenfranchised).
At that time, I posted an entry at The Bailey Blog about how the parties both needed some PR reputation work done to make nice with voters. After all, it wasn’t our fault, it was the party leaders in the state flexing their muscles that got us into this mess.
But now, as I’ve seen this play out to the end and punishments handed down or retracted, I’m not sure where to stand on this issue.
The Democrats have decided to fully restore the voting rights of those states who violated the rules, telling them to behave better next time. The Republicans, however, have decided to continue punishing the misbehaving states. Those states all lost half their delegates, cutting the size of delegations and influence they have in picking the GOP nominee.
The parent in me says that sometimes tough love isn’t easy, but it’s the right thing to do. The state parties in South Carolina, New Hampshire, Florida and Michigan knew what they were doing when they held the Republican primaries early. And now the Republican National Committee is holding them accountable.
But the parent in me also gets frustrated with teachers who punish my kids’ entire classroom because of what one or two students did. Why should everyone be punished? And that seems to be the Democratic National Committee’s position with Michigan and Florida.
It’s not an easy call to make. Rules exist for a reason. Breaking the rules results in punishment so the rules mean something or anarchy because they don’t, right?
On the other hand, this is all about whether a state’s delegates get to cast all their votes for a nominee at the convention — a system of selecting a party’s candidate that hasn’t really meant anything for decades because the race has already been decided via media coverage and advertising expenditures.
What do you think? Tough love isn’t easy — but is it right? Is ignoring the political parties’ rules important enough to make a stand — or is it all just semantics at this point anyway?