Now that it looks like a re-do of the Michigan Democratic presidential primary is in the dustbin, it's time to sort through this mess.
There's been a lot of huffing and puffing over how the national Republican and (especially) Democratic parties "disenfranchised" Michigan presidential primary voters. Of course, the state, not national, party organizations have themselves to blame. The national organizations laid down the rules on scheduling primaries. They permitted only a few states to hold primaries or caucuses ahead of "Super Tuesday" on February 5th. They clearly warned the state organizations that holding an early primary would result in some or even all of the selected delegates not being seated at this summer's presidential conventions.
Nevertheless, Michigan Republicans and Democrats blundered forward with an early primary in plain violation of the national party rules -- and now are paying the price for it. Because the Republican presidential nominee is a settled matter, no one on that side of the aisle cares anymore. However, the Democrats still have a tight race for the nomination, and so Michigan delegates now might matter if they are seated. Thus, the sound and fury during the past few weeks about the Democratic national party "disenfranchising" Michigan voters if either the national party doesn't seat the delegates chosen in the renegade primary or the voters don't get another primary to chose again.
The first big piece of clutter to clear out of the way is that voters have NO constitutional right to choose a political party's nominee for public office. Political parties can pick their nominees any way they want, whether it's a primary, a caucus, a convention, or a smoke-filled room. Whether or not it is savvy, reasonable, or fair for a political party to use one method instead of another is not the point. The First Amendment freedom of association is. So, the Republican and Democratic national parties can dictate any rules they deem fit for determining who their presidential nominees will be. If they want to exercise control over the primary calendar (which, in light of how the Democratic contest is playing out, trying to prevent a front-loaded calendar seems not to have been such a bad idea), they can do so.
And if they want to penalize state parties that violate that schedule, they can do so. It should be clear to everyone by now that this is a hard fact of life. The courts have repeatedly refused to get into this mess, because they know they have no jurisdiction over the matter. So why all the hullabaloo directed at the national parties? Why aren't we thoroughly ticked off with the Michigan Republicans and Democrats who took our tax dollars to hold presidential primaries to chose delegates who would not be seated at the summer conventions? They are the ones who took $10 million from taxpayer wallets to hold a meaningless event -- indeed, an event they knew was meaningless at the time.
In fact, why do the taxpayers even pay for political party contests in the first place? How is it that we are obliged to subsidize the nomination process of the Republican and Democratic parties over which, by their First Amendment rights, we have no control? Primaries might well be a good way for parties to select their nominees, but let them and not the taxpayers pay for it. Meanwhile, keep in mind those state pols who blew your money on a pointless presidential primary the next time he or she is trolling for your vote.