Monday, February 11, 2008

Delegates. Not so super.

We are staying on politics for one more day. It was either this or talk about the Jackie Hoffman show I saw tonight, which included the hilarious song "You're not Buddhist, you're Jewish" and the Valentine's Day-inspired "Stop making out in front of me."

A tough one. But in the end, my dislike of superdelegates won out. The whole concept is at odds with the idea of democracy. One candidate could win the popular vote in a state primary and when the super delegates enter the picture, they can--boop!--change the outcome of that state's vote. [Yes, boop! is the official sound of change.]

Why do we need delegates anyway? The message is that my vote isn't worth as much as theirs and that the idea of the popular vote is just a bedtime story. Go ahead, cast your votes, kids. They totally matter. Unless, you know, we think you're making the wrong decision. Shhh. Would you like a snack?

Worth noting: Superdelegates came into being after the 1980 election. Hardly a historical concept. There are currently 796 superdelegates in the Democratic National Convention. When the victorious candidate needs 2,025 delegates to win, the number 796 seems a little LARGE. The Republican party does not have superdelegates.

Here is what Wikipedia (Source of all Truths) says about delegates and their superfriends (emphasis is mine):

Delegates supporting each candidate are chosen in approximate ratio to their candidate’s share of the vote. In some states, the delegates so chosen are legally required to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged, at least on the first ballot at the convention. By contrast, the superdelegates are seated based solely on their status as current or former elected officeholders and party officials. They are free to support any candidate for the nomination, although many of them have publicly announced endorsements.

Wow, I have a problem with nearly all of this. SOME states legally require their delegates to stick with the candidate they pledged support for? Superdelegates are free to do whatever they want, regardless of their constituents? Let's call this what it is then...Damn, I don't have a word for it. It's not a democracy, though.

CNN estimates that Clinton has the support of nearly twice as many superdelegates as Obama. If the decision comes down to the superdelegates, and there is a very real possibility that it will, it's not going to go over well with the millions of people in America who so foolishly thought that their votes would really count.

But hey, give them a snack. Maybe they'll forget.

More on the superness:
CNN's Q&A about delegates.


Loretta Froth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roddy Rod said...

Not sure what the difference is between superdelegates and electors (Joe?), but this from

"In most elections, all the electors pledge to vote in accordance with the popular vote winner. However, only 27 U.S. states have electors who are legally bound by their constitution to vote for their candidate. It is not clear what would happen in the unlikely event that a large number of electors violated their pledge and voted differently."

So...yeah. I like how we are just 'unsure' of what would happen if our elected officials went against their legally-bound pledges. Maybe it's a surprise pizza party. The thing is, we just don't know.

Joe said...

Seems shocking not to let democracy run its course. But... though I'm not defending the system you described, democracy is scary. Taking popular votes throughout history would have given legitimacy to things like witch burning and slavery. The genius of the Constitution (one of many) is that it gives us a very visible leader who can sway public opinion the right way. Just hasn't worked lately. So behind the superdelegates is perhaps the idea that we can't allow the people to make unwise choices on choosing that person. Still, even after 1980 the Dems gave us Mondale and Dukakis.