Disenfranchisploitation

A campaign blog.
March 19 2008 6:26 PM

Disenfranchisploitation

Note that now both Clinton and Obama are using the word disenfranchise to describe the other’s plans for Michigan.

Clinton has long insisted that failing to seat Michigan’s delegates would be equal to disenfranchising voters. (That is, after initially agreeing that Michigan wouldn’t count.) Today, she even lumped Michigan’s revote in with the "long struggle" of "women, African-Americans, Latinos and others" to "get to the point where barriers have been knocked down and doors opened." What would you call that, disenfranchisploitation ?

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But now Obama’s camp is using the same terminology. Clinton supporters Jon Corzine and Ed Rendell, governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, respectively, wrote a letter today to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm reiterating their willingness to pay for a revote. Obama spokesman Bill Burton fired back, denouncing their willingness "to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters."

The Obama campaign’s rationale , in case you missed it: Voters who participated in the Republican primary wouldn’t be included in the Democratic revote. They also argue that young absentee voters—think college students—wouldn’t be included, since there’s a rule saying you must show up in person the first time you vote.

So, to recap: According to Obama, Clinton’s plan would disenfranchise Republicans, independents, and young first-timers—his base. According to Clinton, Obama’s nonplan would disenfranchise traditional Democrats—her base. When it comes to appropriating voting-rights rhetoric to serve their own needs, both campaigns are doing a smashing job.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.