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KevenSeven On January - 1 - 2010

Not surprisingly, in the wake of the last Democratic primary contest, the concept of Democratic Super Delegates having a veto on the nomination of a contender has come under fire.

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.

Categories: News & Politics

35 Responses so far.

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  1. AdLib says:

    Kev, first, congrats on posting your graphic!

    Second, there should not be Super Delegates, the 2008 election proved why. They represent a way to undermine the democratically favored candidate.

    If Hillary had prevailed with her strategy of getting SD votes to overcome the democratically elected majority of delegates Obama won, would the Dem Party have really benefited?

    Yes, they can do whatever they want to select a candidate, hell, they don’t even need to hold primary elections, they could play Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide.

    But if you want to have an energized electorate, you can’t piss on the majority by deciding at the end of the day that their votes are best tossed in the trash if they don’t select who the DNC folks want.

    Of course, there is the political reality that those who are SDs sure don’t want to lose their status or influence. So, out of necessity, the Dems may not get rid of SDs but I do think they should be awarded proportionately with the state vote instead of winner-take-all.

    • nellie says:

      I agree, AdLib.

      Super Delegates, to me, are akin to the Senate. An undemocratic body in place to keep the rabble in line.

      Who needs it.

    • javaz says:

      Super delegates do not have to vote for the winner of the primary.


      According to David Sirota on NPR -- (from the article)

      “”So I think the fear is that the Democratic nominee will not represent the person who won the most primaries and will represent, instead, a politician who managed to get another set of politicians -- in this case, superdelegates -- to use their insider, backroom power to essentially, potentially steal the nomination from another candidate.””

  2. Tiger99 says:

    I am more of a one person one vote type and have long felt the selection process along with the “Super Delegates” should have been shelved long ago…Let’s be honest it hasn’t exactly been all that productive in selecting successful candidates when it comes to the national elections…I believe the selection process should be a plain and simple ballot vote to reflect the will of the people… Super Delegates give the appearance of “Power Elite Overlords” making sure that there is no radical change to the system…

    I am not sure if we need to abolish the Electoral College but until the winner take all system is eliminated it does remove any resemblance to “every vote counts”…Think about how elections and politics in this Country would change if States EC’s votes where split on the percentages of the popular vote…Every citizen would feel that their vote had some power to effect the selection of the President…I and others feel our vote is only effective on the local/State level, I want my vote for President to actually be represented not eliminated…

    • KevenSeven says:

      You fail to distinguish between the process of selecting a nominee and that of choosing the winner of the general election.

      Apples and oranges.

      • Tiger99 says:

        “I believe the selection process should be a plain and simple ballot vote to reflect the will of the people”

        To me it is just that simple… Eliminate the SD’s and Caucuses, hold a National Party Nominee vote for all Party’s on the same day or over a period of days(The second Tues of April, Or 3 week of April for example)… Delegates as with the EC should be representative by percentages of the votes given…

        • KevenSeven says:

          That is the recipe to guarantee that the best funded, best connected candidate wins the nomination.

          You allow no room for a dark horse.

  3. Emerald1943 says:

    I’m completely confused. I don’t understand this whole thing. Thank goodness for “the Google” and for knowledgeable writers on the Planet!

    Where we need to focus attention is on the Electoral College that completely nullifies your “blue” vote if you happen to live in a “red” state. For many years and many elections, I felt that my vote was simply discarded by this process. At least, last fall my state of North Carolina went for President Obama! My vote finally counted!

    • KevenSeven says:

      I am discussing how the party goes about choosing a nominee. The Electoral College has no more to do with this discussion than does the sex life of Paris Hilton.


    • Khirad says:

      The way the superdelegates would operate under this proposed change would make them pretty much like the electoral college.

      To the broader EC debate, I was totally against it, PO’d after Al Gore, but there are interesting arguments for it -- even if you don’t agree, it’s good to know the other side.

      Which brings me to the age thing. Why the hate? Why 30s? I wish I could find the clip, but at the Youth Parliament in the UK this past October, a young man stood up, and argued for lowering the voting age to 16. He made the point that they could sleep with their MP (AoC is 16), but not vote for them. And, mind you, the clip is better ’cause he was clearly engaged in the process and this was more of a rhetorical flourish than mere snark. Why make them stand at the back of the bus and wait their turn? (I’m being tongue-in-cheek with the hyperbole, by the way)

    • abby4ever says:

      You aren’t alone. I never did get the superdelegate thing.

      There ought to be a law that states that any party political concept that can’t be fully grasped within five minutes, and by anybody at all, must be thrown out.

      • KevenSeven says:

        Um. No. I am not for dumbing down, thanks.

        The SD concept is perfectly obvious. The Party big wigs want to maintain some ability to throw the nomination one way or another. This last contest was the only one in which they would have had any chance of making a difference.

        And if it were to keep us from nominating the woman who ran for her life under sniper fire, then I am down with that,

      • Hopeington says:

        Reinstate Civics class at HS and Jr HS levels!!

        • Khirad says:

          Actually, learned this in 8th grade Social Studies. HS kids could definitely use a refresher, though. I myself took a class on it as an elective and was Democratic Whip in our schoolwide Mock Congress. ‘Twas fun. Even got to stand up and deliver a little speech right in front of our mouthbreathing state representative.

        • Emerald1943 says:

          Absolutely! I am appalled at the ignorance of some who have no idea how laws are made in this country! Passing civics should be a graduation requirement!

  4. nellie says:

    Thanks, K7. I have to admit, I find the selection of delegates and the Super Delegate process very mysterious. I know that in order to have an impact on the primary candidates, you’d better be an active member of the party.

    I don’t understand how super delegates solves the smoke-filled back room problem. But then the candidate selection rules are all Greek to me.

    • KevenSeven says:

      The SDs do not solve the smoke-filled back room “problem” The SDs ARE the smoke-filled back room. But they only have influence if the race is very close, as it was this last year.

  5. Scheherazade says:

    Honestly being a Democrat in Kansas is almost pointless. 😐 I am a small dot of blue amidst a sea of blood red.

  6. Scheherazade says:

    What the point of having them at all under these circumstances is remote to my understanding.

    I’m not exactly clear what the point is myself. I’m still trying to sort that one out. Could it be as a means of calming emotions after what happened in 2008? I mean to say, could this be a way of publicly restating something in order to allay fears of a reoccurance or something? I shall continue to ponder.

    In Kansas I’m a registered Democrat for some of the very reasons indicated above. I agree with you about SDs. I too would like for them to retain their powers.

  7. javaz says:

    I don’t understand Super Delegates.
    From my limited knowledge, SDs can override a primary vote, no?
    If the state’s primary elections are not binding, such as with Massachusetts, a SD can choose another candidate other than the one chosen by voters in the primary.
    Somehow that seems unfair.
    Why bother with a primary election if SDs can choose who they wish as the candidate?
    Thanks for the article, K7, as it gives me something to research.

    • KevenSeven says:

      No, that is not how it works.

      The various states are given a number of delegates that will be contested, they will be awarded in proportion to the results of the primary or caucus.

      Additionally, and separately, there are super delegates, who have a vote in the convention.

      Obama only just had more contested delegates than did Clinton, so he won without the influence of the SDs. But he had a solid advantage in the SDs, and it would be technically possible for Clinton to have bested Obama in the contest for contested delegates, and yet not gain the nomination.

      And I am OK with that.

  8. KevenSeven says:

    I’ll be damned. I finally got the damned graphic to work.

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