On Delegates and Democracy

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


The Beamster makes an excellent point over at Slate about delegates and democracy.

The first school of thought says that superdelegates should support whoever wins more pledged delegates. Democratic strategist and delegate guru Tad Devine argued this point in his Sunday New York Times op-ed, in which he called on superdelegates to stop endorsing and wait to see whom the American people choose. Obama said he also believes that “if we end up with the most states and the most pledged delegates from the most voters in the country, that it would be problematic for the political insiders to overturn the judgment of the voters.”

The other school of thought says that superdelegates should decide for themselves which candidate they like better. Hillary Clinton articulated this philosophy over the weekend: “Superdelegates are, by design, supposed to exercise independent judgment.”

More after the jump.

What’s amazing here—but hardly shocking—is how conveniently the candidates’ philosophies align with their political needs. Obama is expected to emerge ahead in the delegate count after the “Potomac primary” on Tuesday, so naturally he wants superdelegates to follow the voters’ lead. Hillary, meanwhile, prefers to maximize her longtime connections to the Democratic establishment. In this situation, Obama is taking the side of democracy, while Clinton is arguing to uphold the party rules.

Notice that this is an inversion of the fight over Florida and Michigan. In that flap, Hillary is the one making paeans to democracy, arguing that the DNC must seat delegates from those two states, both of which she won. Meanwhile, Obama claims that we need to play by the rules of the DNC, which stripped the states of their delegates.

The funny thing is that it’s possible HRC ends up with more pledged delegates (due to winning Ohio and Texas), and BHO ends up with more superdelegates (due to party leaders realizing he is better for the Democratic Party on downballot races nationwide). Which means that their posturing now will screw them later.

Throw my voice in with the chorus who thinks it would be a tragedy if one of the two candidates won the most delegates in primaries and caucuses nationwide, only to see the people’s decision overturned by party elders. Superdelegates ought to pledge to either (1) vote the way their state voted, (2) vote the way the nation as a whole voted, or (3) not vote at all.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate