Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The voters spoke:

By Carol Gee

. . . not the mainstream media, not political campaign managers, not even the presidential candidates themselves, except unconsciously. That is, as Politico.com's Jim VandeHei called is this morning on CNN, "the beauty of the process."

We all forget that it is VOTING process. . . not an opinion polling process, not a media process, not a leadership process. It was the followers that spoke in Iowa, Wyoming and now New Hampshire.

Democratic, Republican and independent voters spoke in the only way that counted. And it was anxiety-producing to watch the vote count. It did not take very long for Senator John McCain to emerge as the Republican primary winner, characterizing the state's voters as ". . . New Hampshire, where they don't let others make their decision for them.

It took a long time for the media to project who would win the Democratic primary. It was the AP who first projected Clinton's eventual win. Not long afterwards Senator Obama graciously conceded to Senator Clinton and then gave another of his wonderful trademark speeches that was just what his supporters needed to stay energized: " Nothing can stand in the way of the voices of millions calling for change."

And then Senator Clinton, the projected winner, gave her own speech, in her own voice, saying, "Last week I listened to you and in the process I found my own voice." Visually, it spoke volumes. It was just her and her younger supporters on the stage. Her speech was inclusive, much more like Obama's now, and less "I" oriented. What we know from the outcome/results part of the N.H. primary process is that each of the leading candidates has the ability to listen as well as speak.

One other person spoke last night, finally. For just a minute I switched from CNN, where I had been watching all evening, to MSNBC. My timing was perfect because I heard Chris Matthews speaking, head a bit lowered, saying,"I will never underestimate Hillary Clinton again." I hope he, and all the others who operated on their own agendas and assumptions, will remember that it is we the voters who will speak.

John Edwards made the best argument last night in favor of honoring the primary process, talking about "the ninety-nine percent of Americans who have not yet had their voices heard." All of us who have not yet gotten our turn to speak, will now get our chances, state by state, voting booth by voting booth. In quick order will come the Democratic primaries and caucuses in Michigan (1/15/08), Nevada (1/19/08), South Carolina (1/26/08), Florida (1/29/08). The consequences of holding primaries early -- in Michigan and Florida -- will be serious, because they are breaking party rules. Michigan will lose 128 pledged delegates and Florida 185 pledged delegates.

Then comes what used to be called the "Super Tuesday" (2/05/08) primaries and caucuses in Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah. And my own Texas votes on March 4, 2008.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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