Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

Most of the superdelegates are old enough to know the ugly past of party elders and the un-Democratic nature of some of the Democratic party in the South. Believe me when I say that older black Democrats in the south like John Lewis know this history personally. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic party was formed in 1964 to challenge the white Democrats that refused to let blacks participate in the Mississippi nominating process. The party elders at the convention in Atlantic City tried to block them from sitting. Eventually, given the strong support by Northern liberal delegates, they were offered a compromise: two seats. They declined angrily. Later, the all-white delegation refused to pledge loyalty to all the Democratic candidates (including the northern black liberals) and walked out. Some white northern liberals walked out and gave their credentials to the black Mississippians. They were taken away from them later.

The specter of seeing Obama lose the nomination due to superdelegates only, if he has a majority of pledged delegates, raises old ghosts the Democratic party sought to exorcise years ago. Barack Obama - who was four years old when this all happened - would probably support party unity, but he's not alone in this. African-Americans everywhere have given him their overwhelming support, and their demands that he be treated fairly are not under Obama's control. This is yet another reason why a superdelegate known well to me personally - a Clinton supporter - was explaining to the press yesterday that she hopes very much that the voters make their preference clear so that the superdelegates can just ratify it. She does not want to have to make a decision unless it is plain that the race between Clinton and Obama is too close to call otherwise. Another superdelegate in the same interview acknowledged that the incredible enthusiasm of voters across the country will be in great danger of turning to anger in the Fall if they perceive that their votes were in vain and the choice was taken from them.

I say this now because I know that Clinton supporters everywhere are preparing their apologia for why Superdelegates should be allowed to make a choice 'for the good of the party' - that this is the way the system was created, etc., etc. - the same sort of argument GWBush made for the Electoral College defying the clearly expressed populr vote. That is a very, very dangerous path to go down. Democratic legitimacy cannot, I repeat cannot be achieved by the votes of unelected superdelegates. If Clinton is behind in pledged delegates, superdelegates cannot tip the balance to her without more process taking place. Obama has already said publicly that if he has: (1) a majority of pledged delegates; (2) a majority of states; and (3) a majority of the popular vote, that he then expects to win the nomination without opposition from superdelegates.

Incidentally, Clinton has been less than clear about what role Florida and Michigan delegates should play. She said recently that "it's all about who gets to 2,025 delegates" and repeated "2025, 2025". Well, that number is a majority excluding Florida and Michigan. She must know that.


Dr. Strangelove said...

The Democrats instituted Superdelegates after the McGovern election, if I've read up on the history right. The idea was to provide "adult supervision" and prevent the nomination falling to another McGovern-like candidate who could win the primaries but was really a poor choice for the party in the general election.

It is astonishing that these supposedly wise party elders did not realize the simple truth of what LTG wrote above: if it ever did come down to superdelegates overruling the popular vote--the very scenario for which the superdelegates were instituted in the first place--it might well be even more disastrous for the party.

I think it comes down to numbers. If Clinton and Obama are very close in terms of pledged delegates and the popular vote, I suspect superdelegates will be permitted to break the tie, even in the public's mind. But if one candidate has 100+ more pledged delegates, as is currently the case for Obama, then I do not think the public would stand for superdelegates overruling them--and that's what it would be seen as.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Pledged delegates are not exactly proportional. Consider Nevada, where Clinton won the popular vote but received fewer delegates. The somewhat arcane rules by which pledged delegates are awarded implies, at least to my way of thinking, that a close vote either way is not determinative in the "will of the people" sense.

UNWEst said...

No one is mentioning the "ubersuper-delagates" which, if I understand correctly, are extra delegates awarded to the states who did not change their primaries. I am complete nil at understanding the finer mechanizations of party politics, but can any of the citizens shed some light on these delegates and their status? Are they just extra superdelegates or do they have some additional role?

BTW: This is the first election where I have heard anything about superdelegates. Is that due to the race being so close this time? Amazing how the focus of these things changes from election to election.

On note: I think many people are confused about primaries. When I worked the polls this time, many people did not understand that they weren't voting for the "president". And many non-declared voters were really confused. They failed to understand the full ramifications of their choice to remain non-affiliated until they were handed a ballot with no names on it. IN California, non-declared voters were allowed to vote in either the Democratic or the American Independent party. 99% of them voted Democrat, only a very few asked for a Republican ballot. But had they insisted on a Republican ballot, it would have been trashed since the Republicans want a closed primary.

I bring this up only because I wonder what these confused CA voters are thinking when they hear about wide open primaries on other states. We tried that in CA and it was struck down by the US Supreme Court. With the rules varying so hugely from state to state, can we really know what the "Voters" want or who they really are?

USWest said...

OK, I posted this comment before reading all the way down the blog to Dr. S's impressive map! So I apologize if you are all rolling your eyes and saying, "didn't we already cover this!"

The Law Talking Guy said...

There are now reports that Hillary Clinton is going to try to get pledged delegates to shift her way at the convention. Talk about desperation and anti-democratic tendencies! I hope the DNC stands up to this. Former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder has already cautioned that there will be riots, that 2008 will be even worse than 1968 if Clinton manages to steal the nomination this way or by superdelegates. HRC and her egomania hasve got to be stopped before she destroys the democratic party.