A guest post from Washington Monthly founding editor Charles Peters:

First primary of 2012 — October 31, 2011

The New Hampshire primary used to be in March. The present chaotic race to earlier and earlier primaries is a recent development, not required by tradition or reason.

The Democratic National Committee, attempting to get this situation under control, adopted new rules governing the timing and order of primaries. Those rules were violated by Michigan and Florida. As a result, the DNC deprived the two states of their convention delegates. Hillary Clinton wants to restore the delegates because she won both states, though Obama wasn’t even on the ballot in Michigan. Obama, of course, wishes the controversy would go away, but has to be careful not to offend Florida and Michigan voters who may be crucial to him in November. Only a handful of DNC officials seem certain to fight to preserve the penalty.

The media, with the exception of the Chicago Tribune‘s Steve Chapman, has been mostly silent on the issues at stake, other than the effect on the delegate counts for Clinton and Obama. I pray that journalists wake up in time — meaning before the DNC Rules Committee meets this weekend — to alert the public to the fact that, if Michigan and Florida are allowed to get away with violating the rules, the first primary for 2012 is going to be on Halloween 2011.

My own solution would be to seat the delegates but deprive them of a vote affecting the presidential nomination.

Charles Peters

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