I see a lot of talk on my Facebook newsfeed about superdelegates and how they are going to steal the election away from Bernie Sanders.
“The Democratic Party’s superdelegates are undemocratic and tilt the nomination towards Hillary Clinton!”
“Bernie just won again in Wyoming, but WTF, Hillary got more delegates?!”
Some of my Facebook friends are also sharing photo memes of local congress men and women (super-delegates) with their contact information and threatening, “if Bernie won the majority of the votes in your district you better change your vote for him,” or else!
One supporter of Bernie Sanders has published a “hit list” of Democratic superdelegates, and several friends of mine in Oregon have threatened their future vote for Kate Brown, our nation’s first openly LGBT governor, if she doesn’t change her superdelegate vote for Bernie. (Oregon hasn’t even had its primary yet.)
A moveon.org petition against superdelegates states: “This process is undemocratic and fundamentally unfair to Democratic primary voters….Democracy only works when the votes of the people—not the decision of a small number of elites — are what determines the outcome of elections.”
Donald Trump also chimed in this week, “You see what’s happening to me and Bernie Sanders. It’s a corrupt deal going on.”
To add some context to all this, here is something that my fellow Bernie supporters ought to consider. More than once in the last eight years Hillary Clinton must have thought, “if it hadn’t been for those darn superdelegates I might have won the democratic nomination and then the presidency!”
In 2008 Clinton won the popular vote over Obama (if you include Michigan, where he wasn’t on the ballot). Today she has 2.4 million more votes than Bernie. Unless Bernie does way better than current polls predict, Hillary is going to win the popular vote in 2016 as well.
Democratic superdelegates were implemented in 1984 to help avoid a brokered convention and today they make up 20 percent of the total delegates. They are free to vote anyway they like, independent of what their party’s voters might want.
Right now Hillary has a big advantage in superdelegates (469 to 31). In February 2008 she had a 2-1 lead over Obama in superdelegates, but as Obama started winning more primaries and caucuses, superdelegates began trickling over to him. The end result was that even though he lost the popular vote to Clinton, he received just enough (2,299.5) of the total 2,118 delegates that he needed to win nomination thanks to those additional votes from the “undemocratic” superdelegates.
Why did more superdelegates side with Obama in 2008 than Clinton? One superdelegate, Arizona Democratic Chair Mrs Fernández, spoke for many when she said, “Senator Barack Obama is strengthening the Democratic Party by bringing in new voters, young and old, into the process.”
So they chose the charismatic black dude over Hillary in 2008. Will the superdelegates that have already pledged their support for Hillary abandon her for the socialist Jew 2016? Unless something quite extraordinary happens, I am going to say no for two reasons.
Democratic superdelegates are distinguished party leaders, and elected officials, including all Democratic members of the House and Senate and sitting Democratic governors. Bernie has been an independent most of his political life and only recently changed parties so that he could run as a Democrat. Hillary, many years as First Lady, Democratic Senator and then Secretary of State, has a lot of friends and supporters in congress and in the party.
Also relevant to superdelegates is that in 2008 there was little vitriol against Hillary and the democratic party from Obama or his voters. Obama united the party, and this was welcome after eight years of George W. Bush and the Gore/Bush/Nader voting controversy of 2000.
Many Bernie (and Trump) supporters are metaphorically out there holding pitchforks. A majority of superdelegates voted for Obama not because they were pushed or threatened to vote for him, but because they saw that he “has the best ability to win the White House in November and lead this country forward.” (Mrs. Fernández again)
Superdelegates are people. They are emotional, logical, pragmatic and ideological just like you and me. When others threaten or push us to do something, especially if they are not close to us, what do we do? Sometimes we acquiesce out of fear, or a desire for ease, but more often we do the opposite.
So to my fellow Bernie Sanders supporters who threaten your future vote to superdelegates, or you’ll vote for Trump in the fall if they “rob” Bernie of his rightful victory, I say:
Back off the superdelegates, focus on getting out the vote in the remaining primaries and let Bernie and the strength of his candidacy convince them that he’s the man they should cast their vote for in 2016.
This article was recently published in Elephant Journal. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/04/those-darn-superdelegates-what-we-can-do-about-em/