Monday, May 2, 2016

Whiners don’t like rules

Last weekend brought the first Red Sox-Yankees action of the season to Fenway Park and ended with the first Red Sox sweep of the Yankees since 2013. The final game was an 8-7 thriller that featured a bomb off the bat of Red Sox catcher Christian Vasquez. As New England did a collective happy dance, I’m sure the Yankees would like to bank some of those wasted runs for a future win. Thankfully the rules are clear: you can’t save runs for a rainy day.

Ah, those annoying rules. Children hate them, teens ignore them and most adults have learned it’s easier to follow them, but it doesn’t seem to end the bellyaching when someone doesn’t like them. This primary season, I’ve heard far too much whining about the dreadful primary rules. Everybody has an opinion about what state’s rules are “fair” and which are not. The latest gripes came from team Sanders as they feel “entitled” to all of Rhode Island’s delegates — even the super delegates that Hillary Clinton wooed into her camp long ago. Readers may recall that team Trump spent a fair amount of time and energy early in the campaign protesting the process through which delegates are divvied up. Now that he’s closing in on the required 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination, he’s pointing his finger at the rules every day to ensure that all the loopholes are closed in his favor.

The common thread amongst the whiners is it appears to be that few (if any) of the people who are complaining about the rules actually participate regularly in the parties that create said rules or are familiar with the logic that created the process. Reminder: primaries and caucuses are not supposed to be a democratic process. Party leadership in each state defines how delegates will be awarded with some degree of guidance coming from the national party. On the Democratic side the process is a consistent formula — although far from “democratic” — with unbound super delegates and scenarios that award more delegates to congressional districts that are heavily Democratic. This formula favors an establishment candidate with a strong organization and ensures that a party outsider (like socialist Bernie Sanders) has an uphill battle to capturing the nomination.

The Republican process (not surprisingly) leaves it up to each state party to decide how it will divide up its delegates. We now know that the Republican system is far more easy for an outsider (named Trump) to hijack and many of the #neverTrump folks are now furiously reading up on the convention rules to find their opportunities to take back the party — and the nomination — before it’s too late. Heads up to #neverTrump: it’s probably too late.

When the dust settles after the conventions, there will be plenty of time for the parties to reassess their nominating practices and fine-tune their nominating methods. With the general election now six months away there will be an opportunity to find some other election-related rules to grouse about, but it seems as if everyone’s time would be better spent becoming part of the process instead of a critic of it. 

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