To the point week of 03-20-08

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IT LOOKS LIKE INDIANA is going to matter in this year’s primary election season, after all.

When it comes to presidential politics, usually by the time the Indiana primary is held on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in May, the nominations for both parties have been wrapped up, so there’s very little fanfare when candidates get to our state – if they come at all.

That’s only half true this year, as the presidential nominee of the Democratic party is still very much up in the air, and may continue to float up there all the way to the national convention. With Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton trading barbs back and forth; it is entirely possible that neither candidate will have enough committed delegates at the convention to win on the first ballot.

After that first ballot, delegates are permitted to vote for whomever they choose – and that could make for some “must see TV”.

On the Republican side, Senator John McCain has already wrapped up his party’s nomination, so the rest of the primary season is merely a formality, as he piles up more and more delegates prior to his party’s convention.

So some might say that on one side of the political spectrum we have peace and calm; while chaos reigns on the other side.

That may be only partially true, as well.

Although John McCain is the nominee of his party, he still has plenty of fences to mend if he wants the Republican majority to back him in November. Many members of the party do not see eye to eye with some of John McCain’s stances, and may choose to voice those concerns either at the Republican National Convention; or – worse yet – at the polls in November.

Back to Obama and Clinton.

We hear a lot about these “Super Delegates” that will also be at the convention. What exactly is a “Super Delegate”? Well, it’s a group of political powerhouses who have been granted delegate status and will cast a ballot at the convention – but their vote isn’t tied to the voters of the state that they represent.

They can vote for whomever they choose.

For example: The only Democratic “Super Delegate” that Indiana has is Senator Evan Bayh. He is also the national co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

But let’s say on May 6th Barack Obama wins the Democratic primary in Indiana. Delegates who are elected at the Indiana Democratic Convention will be sent to the National Convention, and will be bound to vote for Obama on the first ballot.

But Evan Bayh can do whatever he chooses.

Sound familiar?

When this country was first founded, our forefathers, locked in a room writing the Constitution, decided that it may not be smart to allow the citizens to “truly” elect their president; so they established the Electoral College to ensure that things were done properly.

Win a state, and you win that state’s electoral votes – all of them. Electors are actually allowed to vote for whomever they choose, but if you get to that point, you’re so high in your party you’d never think of switching sides.

Seemed like a simple safe guard, until four times in our nation’s history: The Presidential election of 1824 (John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson); 1876 (Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel J. Tilden); 1888 (Benjamin Harrison over Grover Cleveland); and 2000 (George W. Bush over Al Gore) – the person who got the most votes of the people didn’t win the Electoral College vote.

In fact, a candidate can win 11 states in the national election – as long as they are the 11 biggest states – and lose the other 39 and still be elected president.

Seem fair to you?

Since the student council election at Centerville Elementary School when I was in the third grade, I was always told that the person with the most votes wins.

Good thing there wasn’t an Electoral College at my elementary school.

But, back to “Super Delegates.”

Eight years ago, leaders of the Democratic party screamed foul when Al Gore got the most votes but didn’t win the White House (we all remember the “hanging chads”).

Now, it seems as though they’ve created the exact same mechanism – but this time in an effort to elect the candidate that they want to lead their party.

Republicans have them, too, but they don’t call them “Super Delegates”, and there aren’t nearly as many of them and they don’t have nearly as much power.

At this year’s Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, 20-percent of the delegates voting will be “Super Delegates”. That’s one out of every five votes cast. They don’t have to listen to any person from the state they represent, they can do whatever they feel is right.

Maybe even whatever the party tells them is right.

Any you’re left out in the cold.

Bill Clinton came to Indiana on Tuesday to campaign for his wife. Barack Obama was in Plainfield over the weekend. More trips here are planned by both candidates.

Seems to me that they just need to impress Evan Bayh.

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In last week’s column I wrote about a push in the Indiana legislature to eliminate the publication of public notices. If that had passed, the requirement that government show it’s financial dealings to the citizens would have been gone.

I’m happy to report that the measure was not passed, and public notices will continue to be available for each and every person to read, review, and comment on when it comes to how your government spends your tax dollars.