Monday, May 26, 2008


Froma Harrop, a syndicated columnist, is usually good, but her latest column is far off the mark. She has made a glaring error in her logic, the result of not bothering to check the dictionary.

In writing about the Iowa primary caucuses, she says “.The caucuses …disenfranchised many parents of small children, shift workers and those who couldn’t drive in the dark.”

BALDERDASH! An explanation of the terms is in order:

We are talking about preferential primaries. The key word is preferential, wherein members of a political party state which candidate they prefer to run in a general election.

Primaries are political party functions. The rules are set by the parties. Only those who are members of that party, or those the party has chosen to allow to participate, may state a preference.

Even though preferential primaries use the state voting apparatus (polling places, poll workers, etc.) they are still party functions.

If a political party decides they want to hold caucuses instead of using a ballot, that is their business. If you don’t like it, don’t participate.

Back to the Iowa caucuses. No one was disfranchised (the better term). The word is defined to mean “To deprive (a citizen) of a right or privilege, especially of the ballot.” In more common usage, we consider this as preventing a person from voting.

No one prevented parents of small children, shift workers or those who couldn’t drive in the dark from participating. Had they thought it was important enough, they would have found a way to participate. The circumstances might have made it difficult, but there was no wall of prevention.

Froma Harop goes on to complain that the caucuses are a “deeply undemocratic process,” because they produced no vote count and there were no secret ballots. So what? Such are important only in an election. This (primaries and caucuses) is a selection process, where members of a political party decide which candidate they prefer to run in a following election. For this process, a show of hands is as good as anything else.

As a final error, Froma says that “They (the voters in Michigan and Florida) went to the polls in good conscience. Why are they being punished?” I would think the answer is obvious. The DNC makes the rules. These states broke the rules. Live with it and get on with your life, instead of crying “Foul!”


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