Dear god, this is a massive load of stupid!
[Bernie] Sanders said on CNN that he and his campaign will try to persuade un-pledged delegates — so-called “super-delegates,” who decide independent of the voting — to flip from supporting [Hillary] Clinton to supporting him instead, on the grounds that he is the more electable candidate in November.
Second, and more narrowly, Sanders also said on CNN that super-delegates in states that he won will feel pressure to support him, rather than Clinton, in order to honor the will of those states’ voters.
1. The idea that the super delegates will overturn the will of the voters is ludicrous. It was bullshit when Hillary Clinton floated this nonsense in 2008, and it’s bullshit today. As I wrote at the time:
[A] coup by super delegate would sunder the party in civil war.
Clinton knows this, it's her only path to victory, and she doesn't care. She is willing -- nay, eager to split the party apart in her mad pursuit of power.
While I do laugh at Clinton’s comeuppance for having pulled this same shit two cycles ago, fact is you either respect the will of the voter, or fuck you.
2. How unmoored from reality do you have to be to even suggest that this might be possible? The super delegates didn’t abandon the winner in 2008 despite the repeated pleas of Clinton—a paragon of the Democratic establishment. Why would they abandon the winner now for the paragon of the anti-establishment?
Sanders has built a very effective campaign by running against the party, even going so far as suing the party. So after trashing it for about a year, why would the party stalwarts who make up the ranks of the super delegates suddenly abandon the winner for him? It defies all comprehension! This has nothing to do with the merits of his attacks, and everything to do with relationship building. You don’t shit on someone and then beg for their help. You don’t see me running to Joe Lieberman or Harold Ford and asking them for favors. You burn bridges knowing that you won’t get to cross them later.
3. Isn’t Sanders the candidate of consistency, honesty, and integrity? Here’s his top strategist, Tad Devine, in 2008:
"If a perception develops that somehow this decision has been made not by voters participating in primaries or caucuses, but by politicians in some mythical backroom, I think that the public could react strongly against that," Devine said.
"The problem is [if] people perceive that voters have not made the decision -- instead, insiders have made the decision -- then all of these new people who are being attracted to the process, particularly the young people who are voting for the first time, will feel disenfranchised or in some way alienated," he said.
Square that away with Devine today, in that Washington Post interview:
“I think we have to see where we are,” Devine said, adding that if Sanders were just behind Clinton in the pledged delegate count and had lost the popular vote, “we’re going to make an argument that you should nominate Bernie Sanders.” Devine said the campaign would argue that such an end result was partly because Sanders didn’t contest certain states. “I do think it’s important to take a look at states where candidates have competed with each other,” he said.
See? Now it doesn’t matter to him if he’s behind the popular vote or delegate count, even if voters end up feeling disenfranchised and alienated.
Why? Because the only states that matter now are the ones that Sanders deigned to contest, like Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Arizona (which Clinton won, by the way). I mean, both candidates have made strategic decisions on where to contest. Clinton didn’t spend a dime on last weekend’s contests or caucuses beyond Iowa. She knew she would get blown out. Sanders didn’t spend money in the South. He knew he’d get blown out.
Is the Sanders campaign argument going to be that Southern African-American voters don’t count because they didn’t bother to contest for their votes? Dear god! Do they not realize how ugly that argument is? And while it’s bad enough that Devine is making this argument, it’s even more distressing seeing Sanders himself repeat it.
Sanders supporters have obviously been very vocal in their criticisms of the super delegate system, and again, deservedly so. To their credit, I’m not sensing any shift in opinions on the matter. I think Devine and Sanders are alone on that limb making this argument.
Which is evidence to me that as torn as we might be over the primary, certain principles continue to bind us together. In this case, the people should speak. And whether we like the end results, we have to respect the will of the voters.
(And can we also agree to fix this farce of a primary process while we’re at it?)