No matter whether you support Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, it’s clear as a cloudless blue sky that the superdelegate system is undemocratic and unfair.
Sanders is correct to criticize this system. From the beginning of the campaign, with hundreds of superdelegates committed to Hillary Clinton before a single vote was cast, the DNC hierarchy had placed a false imprimatur of success on the Clinton candidacy by producing a delegate list that made it appear that Sanders was behind approximately a third of all delegates — even before the primary elections had begun!
The effect is psychological, or rather, a form of psychological manipulation. It aims to produce the effect that the candidate with all those “delegate” commitments is the “leader” in votes. The effect is to suppress votes for an alternative candidate, as such votes are seen to be without effect, a lost cause, or a form of ersatz support for the GOP candidate, because the opponent (Sanders) is not getting behind the presumptive candidate of the majority.
Hence, this election never started from a level playing field. Forget that Hillary uses SuperPAC money, while Bernie has foresworn that. Forget the fact that Hillary has a political machine that works for her, and years of running for president and superior name recognition vis-a-vis Sanders. The main fact is that the election began with her hundreds of delegates in the lead, hundreds of delegates that were listed in television and press delegate tallies by servile media outlets like MSNBC and the New York Times.
Such inevitability about outcome, based on fraudulent “democratic” appearances would have been the envy of the Kremlin circa 1965. But we are talking about the United States, and it is 2016.
As Charles M. Blow wrote in an op-ed at The New York Times last month:
This system is unjust, in part because those superdelegates are not prohibited from declaring their loyalty before voting has ended. At the very least, they should be barred from committing before voting is completed in their own states.
Without this prohibition, the establishment puts its thumb on the scale and signals its approval and disapproval ahead of Democratic voters. How can this be defended?
The Superdelegate system was specifically created to stop the candidacy of any antiwar candidate, after the nomination of anti-Vietnam War candidate George McGovern led to a catastrophic election defeat in 1972. The leadership of the Democratic Party determined that a candidate who had strong anti-Establishment opinions would never get a chance to win the nomination again by rigging the system to give the Establishment candidate up to 1/3 of all delegate votes for the nomination at convention BEFORE THE PRIMARY SEASON EVER BEGAN!
Sanders has labored mightily to defeat this system, but so far he has come up short, while shaking the system to its core by making this race have some semblance of legitimacy. When Sanders mentioned the fact that superdelegates continue to be for Clinton, the Establishment candidate, in states he won by large margins, Clinton surrogates and supporters cynically cast him as the antidemocratic candidate for relying on superdelegates!
A reminder: Sanders didn’t create the superdelegate system. He has spoken against it, something I don’t believe (but please, readers, point me in the right direction if I am wrong) Clinton has ever done. If he wants to try and achieve the nomination, he will have to get superdelegate support. I don’t believe he will, since superdelegates are essentially the party elite, and Establishment to their core. They will stick with Clinton, and they have no intention of seeing a “democratic socialist” become a nominee for President.
What if Clinton and Sanders had started from a level playing field? How might, for instance, the beleaguered African-American electorate have perceived the choices before them? Would they have seen Clinton as inevitable, and wanted to support her as a bulwark against Trump’s racist candidacy? Or would they have seen Sanders as a legitimate and progressive choice who had a good chance of winning? We’ll never know, because the Democratic Party chose to have their presidential nominating race rest upon a bogus early bump for the candidate of insider choice, not the people. This stains the legitimacy of Clinton’s candidacy.
Bob Dylan once wrote, “You can’t win with a losing hand.” The Democratic Party rules for nomination of its presidential nominee has reinforced the belief that the system is rigged. The support for such rigging by so-many Daily Kos members is more than disheartening. It means that instead of progressive politics, much of this site has been captured by the spirit of machine politics.
There is still some chance that things can turn around. Will a new generation come away from this election with the belief the system is rigged firmly established in their minds? Or will they believe their vote can count? Support for Bernie’s plea that superdelegates pledge to support the will of the electorate in their state, whether via caucus or open or closed primary, would go some way to showing faith in the democratic process. I don’t even think it would change the outcome, yet Clinton supporters will not support this call for basic democratic practices.
What will you do?
Others who have written on the undemocratic nature of superdelegates:
Democrats' superdelegate system is unfair and undemocratic by Marc Plotkin at The Hill
“This system is so rigged”: Outrage as undemocratic superdelegate system gives Clinton unfair edge over Sanders by Ben Norton at Salon
The (Un)Democratic Party by Charles M. Blow at The New York Times
Undemocratic processes taint a democratic nation by Jacqueline Lewis at Biola University Chimes
The Democratic Party’s ‘Superdelegates’ Are Super Wrong by Normon Solomon in the Marin Independent Journal