What’s Kerry smoking?

Some Dems have started grousing (once again) that the prominent roles played by Iowa and New Hampshire in the presidential nomination process leave too much power in the hands of “small states with overwhelmingly white populations.” And in a move that actually smacks of a hint of progressivism, “the party is considering adding, during those early weeks, one or two states in other regions to draw diverse electorates into the process.” And what’s Kerry’s response? He writes a column lambasting the idea and accusing the party of “making a mistake in trying to 'fix' something that is not broken." Gee, I don’t suppose this has anything to do with the fact that Iowa and New Hampshire voters came through with an unexpected amount of support for him in the last election, do you?

On ABC's "This Week," the Massachusetts Democrat bridled when told an unnamed Democratic strategist said that, by supporting the status quo, "you're basically saying only white people's votes count in those early states."

"That's so much bunk," Kerry responded. "I don't know how to describe that comment in any other way than to say that that's absolutely ridiculous. The converse of that is to suggest that the people in New Hampshire and Iowa are insensitive to those issues and don't care about them." (Link.)
Well, no. The converse of that is to suggest that the people in New Hampshire and Iowa simply don’t see presidential candidates through the same prism as people of color, because sensitivity and concern for their issues isn’t the same as having lived in their particular set of circumstances. In fact, I would also argue that the majority of residents in New Hampshire and Iowa don’t view candidates in the same way as southern whites, or southwestern whites, either. Even a state like Illinois, with a much more racially diverse and larger LGBT population, views candidates differently—which shouldn’t be construed as a slight against Iowa or New Hampshire, but simply a recognition that in a diverse party, diversity should be respected.

There’s nothing ridiculous about that suggestion, and I would expect Kerry to be clever enough to know that, which makes me suspicious of his motives. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, West Virginia, Hawaii, and D.C. have all “asked to be considered for an early nomination contest,” with a decision expected later in the year. Does Kerry really think that the Dems’ wouldn’t nominate a stronger candidate with the input of one of those states, or does he just look at that list and see his own presidential ambitions circling the drain?

If it were up to me, I’d prefer to see a state like California, with a truly diverse population—from race to class to sexual orientation—be a key part of our nominating process, but, failing that, I’ll settle for something that at least brings a decidedly metropolitan flavor to the primaries, which is why I’m hoping they pick D.C. from the above list.

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