Super Delegates have been a feature of the Democratic nomination system since the 1970’s, as a response to the smoke filled rooms that chose Kennedy, LBJ, and particularly, Humphry. The SDs had no particular effect as previous contests were insufficiently close for them to have an impact. Conversely, the 2008 race was as close as these things get. So observers and activists have only just appreciated the potential impact of the SDs in choosing the party’s nominee.
The current proposal would not actually do away with the SD’s, but strip them of their choice. The idea is that the candidates get all the SDs of whatever states they win. Which is in opposition to the apportionment concept of the contested delegates. I assume that you all, unlike Mark Penn, understand that the delegates are not awarded “winner take all” in the Dem primaries and caucuses, but under the new regime, the votes of the SDs will be awarded by state. What the point of having them at all under these circumstances is remote to my understanding.
Now, one rather interesting debate point of the last season that I found rather striking and I wrote about several times, is the fact that nobody has a civil right to participate in the primary process that selects any nominee. Think I am wrong? I will say that if the Democratic party decided that the choice of nominee would be left to only left handed Jewish male red heads taller than 6′ 6″, there would be nothing that any of us could take to a court of law.
The political parties are private clubs. Those of us who are members are members by sufferance only. The political parties can set whatever rules they see fit. The political parties could restrict the vote to men. They could use a dart board. Now, they would be idiots to do any of these things, but they could do it. In many states, one needs to be a registered member of the party to vote in the primary. How can that be legit? Why cannot Greens and Nazis vote in the CA Dem primary? Because the party says so.
All this frolderol brings us to the question: is it good to have an anti-democratic force in the nomination process that can veto the nomination of an established but unpopular (with the established party leaders) politician? Because that nearly happened. HRC was right on the heels of Obama in the contested delegate count, but Obama had a solid edge in Super Delegates. We very nearly saw Obama nominated on the strength of his SD count.
Did the Dems do right in 1970, by retaining a vestige of the smoke filled room (the Super Delegates)? In a way, I personally prefer that we keep the Super Delegates, possibly halving the effect of their vote. But then, I would like to see everybody who wants to have a say in who is my party’s nominee be able to prove that they have been politically active, a regular voter, who has given time to the party.
See, it is my party. I have worked pretty hard for it at times. I want my vote to count more than some jonny come lately. Some person who has decided, in their thirties, that they want a say in the process. And I am OK with the idea that the process allows a group known as Super Delegates should have a veto on the ambitions of a candidate that they think would be a loser for the party in the General Election.
Don’t even get me started on the caucuses.