Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Superdelegates? Ah Shite

After yesterday's primaries and caucuses, Clinton holds a four-point lead over Obama in the number of delegates each has won... and an 87-point lead in the superdelegates. Arooo? you might rightly ask in your best befuddled Scooby-voice. Superdelegates? Yes. Those would be the additional delegates peculiar to the Democratic Party, composed of all Dem members of Congress, all Dem governors, and assorted party hacks. They get awarded to the candidates just like regular delegates do... but they get to decide which candidate they're going to, rather than being assigned on the basis of votes cast by, you know, the voting public.

Howard Dean gamely explained this all away on Air America last night, serving up a line of bullshit that went like this: You know, these superdelegates are all people who were voted into their positions by the voters, so it's not a subversion of the democratic process in any way. Uh, okay, Howard. The little problem I see with that line of reasoning is that the people serving as superdelegates campaigned for and were voted into specific offices such as representative or senator or governor. No one voted for them for the express purpose of giving them the power to award nomination points to the presidential candidate of their personal choosing, particularly when that choice runs counter to the expressed will of the majority of the people casting votes in the primaries.

The upshot is that either Clinton or Obama could very well win the popular vote but lose the nomination by virtue of superdelegates--the very definition of Party Establishment--aligning themselves with the other candidate. And because most of the elected representatives, senators, and governors in this country, even the Democratic ones, are overwhelmingly white, male, and moneyed, well, where does that leave hopelessly idealistic notions of representative government or even the power of the ballot box? The concept of superdelegates does not square with a party that gives even lip service to populism. It smacks of elitism and is the stuff of a ruling class that doesn't trust the rabble to make decisions. If it comes down to superdelegates being in the position of tipping the nomination to one side or the other, will they have the integrity to follow the votes of the people they claim to represent?

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