April 25, 2008

 The Leviathan speaks

Do I get this right? Ms. Merritt, a Hillary supporter, seems to be arguing that at the end of the world's most extravagantly long and expensive primary race, designed to give the Democratic party an electable candidate with lots of stamina and sane enough not to machine-gun the press however provoked, the party elders (aka superdelegates) should set aside the candidate who's actually won by the rules of the competition they set up, and only look at big swing states or blue-collar white voters or something and declare that the party should nominate the loser. Regardless of the likelihood that African-Americans, about the most loyal constituency of the party, will draw the conclusion that unelectable is now another word for black. This is an asymmetric risk; Hillary's supporters, women and the DLC crowd, will be sore when Obama is nominated but can't sensibly object that the nomination has been stolen.

Thomas Hobbes had words about this in 1660:

But if there be other signs of the will to transfer a right besides words; then, though the gift be free, yet may the right be understood to pass by words of the future: as if a man propound a prize to him that comes first to the end of a race, the gift is free; and though the words be of the future, yet the right passeth: for if he would not have his words so be understood, he should not have let them run.
Leviathan, Ch. xiv
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