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Superdelegates

February 17, 2008

You can’t read, watch, or listen to news during the primaries without hearing the term “superdelegates”. I’ve noticed the the MSM is not doing a great job of explaining what superdelegates really are, or why they have so much power in this years primaries. In this article I hope to throw out an understandable idea of what may very well decide the DNC candidate, and what the fuck the Dems are thinking.

Superdelegates is not the official name of this post. Well, it is the name of the post that I’m writing, but not the name of the responsibility that these women and men hold. In the DNC Delegate Selection Rules section 9.A., superdelgates are called “unpledged party leaders and elected officials”. It is understandable if at this point, you are led to wonder, “What the fuck does that mean?” Basically, the Dems round up every member of the DNC that holds a leadership position:

  • Democratic President and VP (if applicable)
  • all Democratic members of Congress
  • all Democratic Governors
  • all former Democratic…
    • Presidents and VPs
    • Leaders os the U.S. Senate
    • Speakers of the House
    • Minority Leaders
    • Chairs of the DNC

So roughly one billion people, depending on the average age of mortality for Democratic leadership. Their power is to be able to cast a vote at the convention for any candidate they please, regardless of popular vote or party pressure. Oh, and I forgot, they must not have supported a candidate from any other party, so Joe Leiberman gets the middle finger for his endorsement of John McCain in 2008.

As it turns out, the lowered average mortality rate due to the stress of the 2008 elections has brought the estimate down from my fabricated 1 billion, to an actual estimated 796, or about one fifth of all delegates. The fact that almost 800 people can cast a vote however they like, regardless of the popular vote has lead a lot of Dems (the average joe voter type, and some in leadership positions) to fear that the Democratic nominee will be chosen through backroom negotiations and take the power away from the voters.

The superdelgates have an unusual amount of power this year, and that is underscoring the less-than-democratic election rule. Here’s why: imagine that Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton are neck-and-neck, their pledged delegate count being within 100 votes. Then, imagine that most predictions for future primaries don’t show either one reaching the number of votes needed to secure the nomination, which is 2,025 votes. I hope this isn’t too difficult so far, since it’s how things are shaping out in reality. If things continue down their current course, then the superdelegates will be in the position to choose the nominee for the Dems. The bad thing about this is that the condidates will be able to negotiate with party leadership to attempt to secure the nomination, totally bypassing the need to have a popular vote in the first place.

Many are saying in this case that the superdelegates, in their rare position of ultimate power, should align with the popular vote in their region, thereby giving up their unintended total control. Others, including Senator Clinton who currently has more pledged superdelegates that Sen. Obama, believe the superdelegates should vote for who they want in office, removing all vestiges of democracy from this broken system.

It seems to me that the only ethical thing to do is to vote with the Democratic voters this year, then fix the broken system next year. I don’t understand why, in an age where it’s so easy to get the popular votes in and have the tallys within a day or two, the parties and the government cling to such outdated concepts as delegates and the electoral college.

Well, that’s your lesson for today. I hope it was interesting and ejoyable. I also hope the concept angered you Dems out there enough to try to get rid of this idiotic and easily-manipulated process.

UPDATE: Check out this article for a history of the reforms that led to the creation of the superdelegates in 1988.

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