Dean can’t handle ‘kids’ Michigan and Florida |

Dean can’t handle ‘kids’ Michigan and Florida

Nick Fickling

Many children today are allowed to think that everything is negotiable, no consequence is permanent, and weaseling their way out of life’s inconveniences is OK. Who has not seen some wayward offspring behaving abominably in a store while the parent stands idly by doing nothing? If kids can avoid consequences at home, then it is small wonder that negotiating responsibility away gets carried into the classroom where, by their appeasing approach, parents are all too often accomplices in undermining school discipline.

Parenting is not easy. Judging when to stand firm and when to allow a little slack is something some parents find easy and others struggle with.

Have you ever told a child who chose to break a firm rule that consequences would ensue, and later, when the child failed to comply, realized that the threatened punishment hurts you far more than it does them? Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean can probably relate to that.

When Florida and Michigan chose to hold their primaries earlier than DNC rules permit, Dean clearly informed them that doing so would cause them to lose the right to seat their delegates at the National Convention. When he was ignored, Dean was left with no option but to refuse to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates.

As things have played out, that was an empty threat, for Dean is now scrambling to work up a “solution” with officials of the sanctioned states, with the Obama and Clinton campaigns and, presumably, with the “superset” of super-duper delegates. As every parent knows, the easy thing is to totally cave, like Dean and the DNC, rather than sticking to your guns, or admitting how silly you have been and yet insisting on some suitable sanction.

Dean and the Democratic hierarchy have not handed out any real sanction for flouting DNC rules. Instead of punishment, naughty Michigan and Florida are being rewarded.

Michigan and Florida chose early elections as a way of getting more attention in the primary process. This they achieved, and they are now also being rewarded with more attention than they could ever have imagined. Next time primaries are held, what will Michigan and Florida do? Like little kids who have been allowed to run riot with no real sanction, they will probably repeat the bad behavior and be joined by California, Pennsylvania, etc. That is the consequence of letting children rule the roost: They know that next time they can do the same thing, or worse, and get away with it. As if to add insult to injury, a group of governors and senators (shouldn’t such elected officials be busy doing the jobs they are paid to do running states, or drafting new laws?) are going around promising to raise the cash to pay for new primary elections ” seemingly after the Puerto Rico primary. Michigan and Florida may well become kingmakers in this election; a great example of rewarding bad behavior, eh?

So what of Howard Dean? He (and the DNC) made an atrocious decision to start with and then compounded it with poor judgment as to how to resolve the situation. How Dean can, in good conscience, stay on as DNC chair I do not know. Thankfully he never reached the White House.

Sound judgment is what we should aspire to as parents, and is what we should look for in our leaders. This country needs a steady, principled president who has sound judgment, not a slimy, power-hungry politician who will do or say anything to get elected. We should remember that come November.

Nick Fickling is retired from the British military and lives in the Vail Valley. E-mail him at or

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