Which of these is not like the other?
Democratic voters in Michigan are well and truly screwed this primary, due to the why-don't-we-get-to-go-first hijinks of the state party. Not only will the ballot be missing all the major Dem candidates but Hillary Clinton, but write-ins will be discarded. Barack Obama and John Edwards have removed themselves from the ballot in deference to Iowa and New Hampshire, and Clinton and Gravel have signed agreements to forgo campaigning here. And as it stands now, whatever Michigan Democrats prefer is irrelevant, since the national committee is banning our delegates from the convention for breaking the rules. Okay, that's an empty threat - the party needs the rogue states Michigan and Florida, and all will be forgiven at the convention, but in the meantime voters are confused and angry.
To be fair, Sen. Carl Levin, one of the prime movers in the strategy to break up the primary schedule, has been mounting an impassioned defense and points out the value of taking the long view in rectifying an unfair and dysfunctional protocol. He and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida have authored the The Fair and Representative Presidential Primaries Act of 2007, which calls for six major primary election dates, with states rotating in position on those dates. Sen. Levin, an outstanding legislator and the longest serving Senator ever to represent Michigan, is running for a sixth term in November. Normally he can persuade me of nearly anything, but the Michigan party's refusal to back down at the expense of voters in a crucial election year... color me uninmpressed.
We intrepids who always vote the primaries are kicking around a bunch of strategies. Most of the people i've spoken to don't hate any of the candidates and would support them in the general election. It's not too tough if your preference is Hillary; she's on the ballot with Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. If you support Barack Obama or John Edwards, you must choose "uncommitted", which is not great news for any of the candidates, including Clinton. She should do very well here, but 50-60% looks better against two distinct challengers than the spectral uncommitted. i'm an Edwards gal, and like the Obama supporters, i face a tough choice next week.
Slate suggests the Daily Kos solution - vote for Mitt Romney. Cute, but i really hate it when Republicans cross over to mess with our elections, and even if my vote is meaningless, i'm not using it on a futile attempt to keep the Mittster afloat in Michigan, his last stand as a viable candidate. i think McCain will do better than people expect, and Mike Huckabee is running solid advertising here. If Mitt sinks, Mike is lifted; not worth the effort to go to the polls in the very unlikely event others will embrace this scheme. This is the kind of plan only someone who doesn't live here would come up with.
So, back to basics. An Edwards vote is an uncommitted vote. The upside, i vote 'for' my guy, and simultaneously lift Obama. The downside, i don't hate Clinton, and it sure looks like i do. Or, i can vote for the guy the Metro Times non-endorsed this week - Dennis Kucinich. There's no doubt he most closely represents my political views, and it's a guilt free indulgence this time. Besides, he was unfairly excluded from the debates. And, he's actually campaigning in this state. Yes he's unelectable and embarrassingly squirrelly, but he's a smart guy and right about nearly everything. Perhaps Tuesday he should get an early valentine.
Every four years i mock the residents of New Hampshire for being undecided hours before the polls open. This year i'm not laughing because i honestly don't know if i'm voting uncommitted or Kucinich, and i'll decide in the booth. The difference is, they often haven't decided because they've only met three out of four candidates. In Michigan, we usually don't meet any of them. And i guess that would be Senator Levin's point.