The not-so-Democratic convention

by Jim Longworth

Not to beat a dead horse, but the so-called Democratic convention was over before it began for two reasons: Florida and Michigan.

After Sen. Hillary Clinton won both contests, Sen. Barack Obama fought hard to disenfranchise voters in the Sunshine and Wolverine states. Had those votes counted, democrats would have traveled to Denver with their two leading candidates in a dead heat among pledged delegates, and Hillary would have opened up her lead in the overall popular vote. And had Michigan and Florida counted, you wouldn’t have seen super delegates and others abandoning Hillary. Translation: Clinton actually deserved the nomination. Instead the Democrats ended up with the two most hypocritical candidates in recent memory. Both Obama and Sen. Joe Biden claim to favor inclusion, yet both have stood for exclusion throughout their careers. In a previous column I elaborated on how Obama managed to disqualify every opponent he faced from the time he ran for the Illinois Senate until now (“Obama is a fraud”; June 20, 2008; at And then there’s Biden, who voted for NAFTA which has displaced millions of blue-collar workers and, earlier this year, stood side by side with George Bush to enact bankruptcy reform legislation, which makes it more difficult for people facing financial troubles to get back on their feet. So, why did Biden vote against the common man? Because Delaware is the state of incorporation for most of the credit-card companies in America, and their influence insured Biden’s support for their unethical treatment of customers. Adding to the hypocrisy, it was Biden who announced earlier this year that Obama was not ready to be president, but that Sen. John McCain was. Barack should have picked Hillary as his running mate, and he would have coasted into the White House. Now he faces a close contest in an election that Democrats should have won handily. If all this isn’t insulting enough, US taxpayers learned after the fact that we paid for the conventions being held in Denver and St Paul, Minn. That’s right, millions of struggling Americans checked off a box on their tax return which they thought was going to help candidates of lesser means get their message out during primary season. Instead, $34 million dollars was earmarked for convention-goers of both political parties to have a fun time nominating candidates who already had the nominations sewn up. Presidential candidates used to be chosen in smoked-filled halls on second and third ballots after days of arm twisting. It was a system that excluded Americans from helping to choose a nominee. Today we may vote in primaries, but our votes don’t really count because delegates and super delegates can switch allegiances without consequence. Then, our votes in November get scuttled by the Electoral College. The old way was bad, and so is the new way. It is time to finally get rid of super delegates and the Electoral College in one fell swoop. Both major parties are to blame for the political and economic mess we’re in, but it is particularly disappointing to have watched as the Democrats showed themselves to be so undemocratic at every turn. From the way delegates were chosen to the way the convention was paid for to the way in which Obama stole the nomination from Hillary and the way in which he selected a co-hypocrite as his running mate. Having said that, I still feel fortunate that I’ve lived long enough to witness a woman and a man of color grapple for the highest office in the land. And I am proud that an African American might finally occupy the White House (I supported Colin Powell in 2000). That Barack and the Dems are partly to blame for the sorry state of affairs in this country in no way diminishes his remarkable journey. So I might just break down and vote for Obama on Nov. 4. On the other hand, I might punish him for not putting Hillary on the ticket, and I’ll reward McCain for selecting a woman as his running mate. Or maybe I’ll just stick with Ralph Nader. It’s going to be an interesting couple of months.

Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Fridays at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).