February 9, 2008

"Democratic superdelegates may have the legal right to thwart the will of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers..."

"... but they do no not have the moral right to do so," writes Chris Bowers, threatening — like Donna Brazile — to quit the party if the superdelegates determine the nominee. What's morally wrong with following the rules that everyone knew all along? Parties aren't morally obligated to use a purely democratic approach to picking a nominee. The Democrats set up a system with some delegates who were there because of their position in the party and not as representatives of people who voted in primaries or caucused. They were authorized to exercise their independent judgment about who the party should nominate, in what looks like a check on freewheeling democracy. Why should they now be told to subordinate their independent judgment?

122 comments:

Palladian said...

Philosophies, rules, traditions be damned if I don't get my way! If I do, those philosophies, rules and traditions are SACRED.

Vincent said...

The rules are fundamentally immoral because they dramatically privilege party bosses. The primaries are very much, like it or not, a part of the functioning of our liberal democracy. If the will of the people can be discarded by brute force, then it is not just party decency but democracy itself that has been discarded. That would be tragic.

Democratic voters won't support a candidate who Florida'd her way to the nomination.

rhhardin said...

Right, the voters won't support it. That's how democracy works.

Then, if it goes that way, the Democratic party knows better next time.

The voters say in November.

L. E. Lee said...

Ann-Read what Cris Bowers actually wrote and you will have the answer to your question.

Ann Althouse said...

I did read it. It's very long, mostly an expression of passion and anger, but his point is that he likes a democratic approach and equates it with morality without making any real argument.

Eli Blake said...

I'm a Democrat, and I voted for Obama (who is ahead right now in the actual delegate count but behind in super-delegates.)

However, I have to agree with Ann on this one. Two weeks ago I attended (as a member of the state Democratic central committee) a meeting in which we elected three members of the DNC to represent Arizona. The process was very transparent and open (incidentally I became a member of the state central committee because in 2002 I ran for precinct committeeman-- there were none in my precinct-- and two years later other precinct committeepersons elected me as the first Vice Chair of my county party-- so nothing was done in the dark.)

We had plenty of time, both before the meeting on January 26 of this year and during that day to meet the candidates for the DNC positions and ask them questions. I know that some people did ask them who they supported for President (though that wasn't as important to me as some other issues I asked them about.) So we elected them in a fair, open and democratic manner.

Of course in addition to DNC members, elected Governors, Senators and Congresspersons are super-delegates:

When I vote for a Democratic elected official, I recognize that that vote also carries with it a vote to represent me not only in the office they hold, but within the Democratic party. For example, I voted for my Governor, Janet Napolitano. She will be, as an elected Governor, a super-delegate. I trust her judgement in that matter, and if it was really that big of a deal for me then I would have had the right to vote against her.

To be honest, I suspect that the current deadlock will be broken before the convention. Super-delegates also are intelligent enough to realize that they have a duty to the party that goes beyond mere matters of personal preference, so rather than argue that it would be immoral to contradict the clear will of the voters, I would suggest that they would consider it to be bad politics to do so.

On the other hand, the present percentages that Clinton and Obama have of actual votes cast so far for just the two fo them are:

Clinton 50.08 %
Obama 49.92 % (not counting results from today) so at the moment it is clearly unclear what the ultimate decision by the voters will be.

Bissage said...

I don’t know who this Chris Bowers person is, but he writes like the over-educated son of a Philadelphia stevedore.

Still, there’s no denying that morels trump wrights.

Trooper York said...

Luckily the Republicans don't have any super delegates. Only Captain America and Ironman delegates. But they will play the sad Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner song when Mitt walks off into the sunset.

Trooper York said...

Bissage, my spam filter blocked your links. What were they?

somefeller said...

No, Bowers makes it clear that the moral (I prefer the word "ethical", but that's not an important distinction here) principle at issue here is that the majority of the popular votes should determine who the party's nominee is. Whether you agree with that position or not, it is an argument, and not just the spouting off of emotions.

I'm saying this as a Hillary supporter (we're the side that supposedly would be the beneficiaries of such a superdelegate vote) -- it would be stupid, politically suicidal and unethical for the superdelegates to install a nominee who didn't get the majority of Democratic primary and caucus votes. If that means Obama would get the nomination, so be it. The superdelegates should not choose the person who came in second place, regardless of what their prior commitments may have been.

I don't think it'll end up that way, in that I suspect that by late April (after Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and a lot of other states have spoken) we'll have a clear leader in the nomination stakes, and the other person will either step aside for the good of the Party or the superdelegates will move in favor of the clear leader. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'd quit the Democratic Party over a superdelegate vote for the second choice, but I will say this -- it would be hard for me to spend time and treasure that could be allocated elsewhere for people who insist on shooting themselves in the foot, especially this year.

Gahrie said...

Bowers would not be whining like this if the superdelegates were about to nominate Edwards, or even likely to nominate Obama. He is merely launching a pre-emptive strike against the likelyhood that the superdelegates will be the difference that alllows Clinto to beat Obama. Bowers is a prominent member of the nutsroots and hates all things Clinton.

That said, I am opposed to pure democracy in all forms, and so I have no problem with the Democratic Party setting up a republican system to choose their candidate.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Liberals love all of the warm and fuzzy rules until, oops, the warm and fuzzies do not work out the right way.

Let's all hold hands and sing Kum-bah-yah.

If Obama gets shafted by the Supers what happens to his young supporters?

Could they drop out indefinitely?

But then on the GOP side, we have war, more war and even more war.

radar said...

I'm saying this as a Hillary supporter (we're the side that supposedly would be the beneficiaries of such a superdelegate vote) -- it would be stupid, politically suicidal and unethical for the superdelegates to install a nominee who didn't get the majority of Democratic primary and caucus votes.

Wasn't the entire point of creating the superdelegate mechanism to provide a method for rejecting the results of the primary/caucus process?

It might be stupid or politically suicidal to ignore the primary/caucus results but I don't see how it is unethical.

You could argue that the super-delegate mechanism itself is unwise or perhaps unethical but that is a subtly different issue than suggesting that super-delegates are acting unethically by disregarding the primary/caucus results.

somefeller said...

"You could argue that the super-delegate mechanism itself is unwise or perhaps unethical but that is a subtly different issue than suggesting that super-delegates are acting unethically by disregarding the primary/caucus results."

Radar, fair point, but I don't think there's that much of a difference between the issues. I don't think one should make a strong distinction between substance and process here, and just because the superdelegates were put in place (theoretically, at least) to provide a method for rejecting the results of the primary/caucus process, that doesn't mean they should in fact do so if the opportunity presents itself, for a whole host of reasons.

Frankly, I dislike the very idea of superdelegates and would prefer a simple state-by-state winner-take-all system or a straight proportional representation system (preferably the former), but that's a separate issue altogether.

Bissage said...

Trooper, mouse click here.

Just kidding.

Here’s what’s really behind door number one: http://www.riverside-marina.com/Riversidehtmlfiles/big%20white%20morel.jpg.

And here’s what’s really behind door number two: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/dayart/20030811/226maritimexx_shipwright1.jpg.

Get it? Morals? Rights? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

(Oh God, I need psychiatric help.)

Ann Althouse said...

somefeller said..."No, Bowers makes it clear that the moral (I prefer the word "ethical", but that's not an important distinction here) principle at issue here is that the majority of the popular votes should determine who the party's nominee is."

That's what I said. He states a preference for the democratic approach. Now, why is that immoral/unethical? Because he likes the democratic approach? That's what I said.

Trooper York said...

Captain America carries a gun now.

radar said...

and just because the superdelegates were put in place (theoretically, at least) to provide a method for rejecting the results of the primary/caucus process, that doesn't mean they should in fact do so if the opportunity presents itself, for a whole host of reasons.

I'm not arguing that they *should* ignore the results, just that doing so is not unethical. It may be monumentally stupid but that doesn't make it wrong in a moral, ethical, or legal sense.

In fact I think all too often unwise or ill-conceived decisions by public officials are characterized as 'illegal' or 'unethical'. This creates a situation where a stupid policy can be defended by simply demonstrating that it wasn't illegal.

mtrobertsattorney said...

If Obama wins the majority of the delegates and the super-delegates vote to put Hillary over the top, the perception on the part of Obama's people will not be that these people used their "independent judgment" but rather that the Clintons either "bought" their vote or else had some dirt on them and forced their vote. Given the Clintons' modus operandi, this perception maybe pretty close to the truth.

Were this to happen, it's hard to see the Democrat party surviving intact.

Maxine Weiss said...

Back-room deals.

Maxine Weiss said...

I'm sure if she doesn't get what she wants, she's threatened to trash the Democratic Party.

She's be a worse enemy than he would.

Rich B said...

Damn the legalities! Could this be any more fun! Yipee!

tjl said...

Why did the Democratic Party ever find it necessary to craft some byzantine mechanism to give party insiders the final say in choosing a nominee? Could it be that the Democrats really don't trust the voters to know what's good for them?

joe said...

I think the superdelegate system was set up just for the situation the party faces now - no clear cut frontrunner. If the candidates are virtually tied going into the convention and there is no one with enough delegates to put them over the top, the bosses decide who is more electable. Who is to say this is immoral? If Obama is ahead by one popular vote the nomination is morally his?

Ann Althouse said...

I think Joe is right. Consider all the Republicans who will cross over and vote in Democratic primaries when it is permitted, as it is in Texas I think, the biggest remaining state. And what about the people who voted early on for Edwards?

Trooper York said...

Arlen Spector just cleared it up for his Democratic buddies. Under Scottish law, there is a provision for super-duper delegates who will override the super delegates and make it all come out right.

Then he shot a B-movie actress in the face...wait was that Arlen Spector...nevermind.

Synova said...

It seems to me that a lot of buffers have been set up between "the people" and control of the government and I'm not at all convinced this is a bad thing.

It makes it harder to change things because there is a certain momentum that has to be overcome, but it contributes to stability. If something really needs to change it ought to be possible to get more than a simple majority.

Super delegates, if they are elected Democrats, are still accountable to the people but at a slight remove. They might know something because they are Senators and Congresspersons and Governors... but if "the people" disagree with them strongly... it's "the people" who will prevail.

If there is a problem now it is because the race is close and the party has become used to complaining about the electoral college and the ability of someone to become president without a majority of the popular vote.

As if this was *ever* a bad thing.

Having come from a small-ish state and come to one of the very smallest of states, I happen to dislike the idea of the popular vote wins all. As they say, this is a fabulous way of surrendering your entire life to those who live in huge cities on either coast. What's best for me or my region is probably not what is best for someone living in New York and the non-democratic elements of our system help to buffer the ability of one group's interests to dominate another. They can still do it, but they need more than a simple majority.

If roughly half of the democrats who vote and caucus want Hillary and roughly half of them want Obama, then it's fair no matter what the Super Delegates do. Even if it means the person with *slightly* more of the popular vote loses.

They won't end up with someone that the party doesn't want because if "the party" really wanted someone that person would get significantly more than a fraction over half the vote.

SteveR said...

I think the superdelegate system was set up just for the situation the party faces now - no clear cut frontrunner

Well that makes sense, but I have a hard time thinking they are that smart. I'm inclined to believe its for power or prestige ("lick my feet, I'm a superdelegate"). Did they really envision a 50-50 race was possible?

EnigmatiCore said...

"Consider all the Republicans who will cross over and vote in Democratic primaries when it is permitted, as it is in Texas I think, the biggest remaining state"

Who will they vote for?

Slim999 said...

Superdelegates exist to keep the people from nominating a black guy who will then lose in the general election.

Hillary will not be "stepping aside for the good of the Party" because she only needs the Party to get what she wants ... power.

Obama can't get enough votes to get the nomination. He can get enough VOTERS, but not enough VOTES.

And the votes that count more are the Superdelegates. They exist to prevent Obama from happening.

The Democrat Party won't allow a black guy to be their nominee. So, get used to saying "Madam President" and being entertained by having Bill in the Lincoln Bedroom with whatever intern of the day is available.

somefeller said...

If it's a 50/50 split, then I'd agree with Joe that having the superdelegates pick is fair and probably won't be controversial. The concern right now is that there will be a clear popular vote leader (presumably Obama) at the Convention who will lose the nomination because of superdelegate voting in favor of the second place finisher, who will be in second place by a substantial margin. That's a lot of presuppositions, obviously, but those are the assumptions upon which the debate rests. If the facts are different, then the debate changes or becomes moot.

Ann, Bowers stated reasons for his position, namely that it is unethical for an institution that claims to respect the will of the voters to reject the will of the voters. His reasons may not be the best ones or ones you agree with, but it wasn't all emotional hot air that he was providing, though I'd agree there was too much hot air in the analysis.

Radar, I would argue that rejection of a clear popular vote winner, if it is obvious that such rejection would severely damage or cripple the party, is unethical. The superdelegates have a primary duty to the Democratic Party, not any individual candidate or outside special interest group. If they take actions that they know would harm the party (big assumption, obviously, but that's the prime assumption in play here), then they are acting unethically, because they have a duty to support and do what's best for the party. It's analogous to a corporate board member taking actions that he or she knows will hurt the company for their own purposes, or for the member of a sports team to intentionally tank in a game because of some other benefit that would go to the player. The superdelegates are part of a larger organization which has its own interests, and they need to put the interests of the organization first if they want to act as ethical superdelegates.

somefeller said...

Also, if there is a near 50/50 split with Hillary in the lead by a small margin, I predict a Clinton/Obama ticket, so as to prevent a floor fight or situation in which the superdelegates are forced to choose between one or the other. Idle speculation, I know, but there is already chatter out there about that possibility.

PatCA said...

It's my understanding that all conventions were dogfights until they were televised. Got to keep the ugly truth from the amateurs...er, voters. And superdelegates were a response to the reform movement after the 1968 convention, which attempted to implement more rank and file instead of party boss control.

So, we shouldn't be shocked, shocked that politics is going on in political races. Hillary, tho, should file suit to allow the Fla and Mich votes at her peril. It could get ugly for her...and fun for us!

tjl said...

"Consider all the Republicans who will cross over and vote in Democratic primaries when it is permitted, as it is in Texas"

It's hard to imagine Hillary getting too many crossover votes in Texas' open primary -- everyone here except lifelong yellow-dog Dems thinks she's an ogress.

But why should the party discount crossover votes? A candidate whose appeal is broader than the party base is a sure winner in November.

Synova said...

For the reason that cross-over voters might be voting for the person they think will be easiest to beat.

Didn't KOS tell everyone in some state to vote for Romney for just that reason?

MadisonMan said...

Sore Loser Men.

I have a hard time believing that the popular vote winner would not be nominated. This seems to be one of those What if the sky turns green type of hypotheticals. Pundits must talk about something, I guess.

radar said...

If they take actions that they know would harm the party (big assumption, obviously, but that's the prime assumption in play here), then they are acting unethically, because they have a duty to support and do what's best for the party.

You are assuming your own conclusion here. You can't simply define 'not following the popular vote' as 'unethical' and then declare that as proof that they are acting in an unethical manner.

Synova said...

"Superdelegates exist to keep the people from nominating a black guy who will then lose in the general election."

Because he's black?

Or do you mean, "Superdelegates exist to keep the people from nominating a black guy who will then lose in the general election because he's got no experience."

?

radar said...

MadisonMan: I have a hard time believing that the popular vote winner would not be nominated.

It depends how close the popular vote is, right?
If the two candidates are within spitting distance of each other than perhaps some other considerations come into play--like who is more likely to win against the Republicans. Remember that many of the popular votes were cast prior to any number of candidates dropping out. It isn't at all clear what a close popular vote means in that situation.

somefeller said...

"You are assuming your own conclusion here. You can't simply define 'not following the popular vote' as 'unethical' and then declare that as proof that they are acting in an unethical manner."

No, I'm saying that taking a stance that one knows will harm the party is unethical. The assumption is that not following a clear popular vote would harm the party. I think that's a safe assumption, but that's not the driving assumption. The ethical point (from my viewpoint, I don't know if Bowers thought of this) comes from what the role of the superdelegates (not anyone else, including liberal activists who aren't official party functionaries) is and should be in the party, separate and distinct from the popular vote issue, which is just the underlying fact pattern that creates the possibility of the willfully destructive choice.

Maguro said...

Joe is right - The system was set up to deal with a situation where no candidate had a delegate majority.

However, the people who set up the system did not anticipate the identity politics that would be in play in 2008.

If (please suspend disbelief) Joe Biden and Chris Dodd are the deadlocked frontrunners, the superdelegate system doesn't seem so unjust. Two boring white guys are tied, so a bunch of other boring white guys (superdelegates) sit down and decide which one gets the nomination.

But this year the leading candidates are a woman and a black man, so the loser's supporters will feel "disefranchised" by the Dem bigwigs.

A bit of a sticky wicket, what?

Simon said...

It doesn't trouble me that the President isn't elected by majority vote, so it certainly doesn't trouble me that the lesser task of one party picking its nominee isn't done by majority vote.

Eli Blake said...

trooper york and tlj:

Where did you read that Republicans don't have superdelegates?

THEY DO!! About 6% of GOP delegates this year are superdelegates.

But I guess if your goal is to trash Democrats over the issue, you have to first lie and say that Republicans don't have any so you can avoid spattering your homies with some of the crap you're throwing.

Simon said...

Of course, I concede the point that it's ironic that the Democratic Party turns out not to be very democratic, I'm just surprised this is news to anyone.

Mortimer Brezny said...

The rules may have been set in advance but they weren't widely publicized or well-known by the voters (many of whom were first-time voters, independents, or Republicans), so using superdelegates to override the democratic results is fraudulent. Fraud is immoral.

I imagine that is Bowers' argument for respecting the voters' reasonable expectations.

As a policy matter, Bowers may be right. Discouraging voters from voting is bad. Using a superdelegate veto may say "Stay home" or "Vote in the other party's primary."

I didn't read Bowers' piece, btw.

radar said...

The assumption is that not following a clear popular vote would harm the party

And what if someone disagrees with that assumption? What if they say: "Democrat D1 can't win against Republican R and so despite the fact that Democrat D1 received 0.1% more popular votes than Democrat D2 I'm going to vote for D2 to get the party nomination"

You can't simply assume that not following the vote is going to harm the party.

peter hoh said...

Having read through these comments, I'm warming to the idea of superdelegates. I am suspicious of them precisely because of the concerns expressed in mtrobertsattorney's 7:43 comment.

Used wisely, superdelegates allow a party to determine a winner when no clear winner has emerged from the primary process. Were it not for them, the winner in a close convention would likely be determined by a series of protracted procedural fights.

If this is their function, then it seems fair to me that superdelegates should not be counted in any candidate's column before the primaries are concluded.

One hopes that superdelegates act as outlined in Somefeller's 9:12 comments.

This year, superdelegates could prevent the nomination from resting on whether or not the Michigan and Florida delegates are seated.

Should either Clinton or Obama win the large majority of the remaining primaries, all of this becomes moot, doesn't it?

Simon said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"The rules may have been set in advance but they weren't widely publicized or well-known by the voters (many of whom were first-time voters, independents, or Republicans), so using superdelegates to override the democratic results is fraudulent."

Oh, come off it. Caveat emptor. The rules were well-known in advance. They're freely available to anyone. If voters don't avail themselves of the opportunity to understand the process they're participating in, explain why we shouldn't just say "tough luck"? You know, what steps ought the DNC have taken that it didn't take to publicize the rules? I mean, you wouldn't argue - I presume you wouldn't argue, maybe you would - that a Presidential election ballot ought to have the disclaimer "warning: your ballot is part of a process of selecting your state's vote in the electoral college, and the winner of the state or national popular votes will not necessarily be deemed the winner of this election." So what steps ought to have been taken? It just seems crazy to me that you're trying to blame the DNC for pig-ignorant voters' failure to live up to their responsibility to inform themselves. That just doesn't seem a tenable position to me.

Zeb Quinn said...

The Democrats set up a system with some delegates who were there because of their position in the party and not as representatives of people who voted in primaries or caucused. They were authorized to exercise their independent judgment about who the party should nominate, in what looks like a check on freewheeling democracy. Why should they now be told to subordinate their independent judgment?

Allow me to interpolate those remarks. Whoever conflated Democrats as democrats?

Tully said...

Just to beat on the obvious, the DNC party leaders set themselves up for just such a self-inlicted wound when they broke the compact of the McGovern-Fraser COmmission and disenfranchised the Democratic voters of Florida and Michigan.

Well, I warned 'em. Over and over....

M. Simon said...

I see only one way to keep the D party happy. Run a black woman for President.

Is Condi Rice available?

knarvil said...

Well if a party won't seat a state's delegates, then why should the party get the MI and FL electors seated when the time comes -- especially if it's a squeaker in November. States are in the constitution, not parties, and no state, save for population in the lower house and total available electors per state, should sit above any other, and the parties enabling such stupidity may want to reconsider.

The Drill SGT said...

PatCA said...
It's my understanding that all conventions were dogfights until they were televised. Got to keep the ugly truth from the amateurs...er, voters. And superdelegates were a response to the reform movement after the 1968 convention, which attempted to implement more rank and file instead of party boss control.


I thought they were a response to the McGovern Electoral debacle of 72 rather than Humphrey in 68.

Mortimer Brezny said...

If voters don't avail themselves of the opportunity to understand the process they're participating in, explain why we shouldn't just say "tough luck"?

Too bad you didn't understand that the judge could just make up law after the fact to jail you. It's tough luck. Yeah, in Communist China.

You seem to be missing the point that many of these voters are first-time voters, independents, and Republicans. They don't know the intricacies of Article 3 of the DNC's charter because they aren't in the Democratic Party and/or they just got involved in politics. Not to mention reading the DNC Charter is not a precondition to voiting. If you want to rob children and nontraditional voters of their votes, fine, but next time around expect a depressed turnout.

Mortimer Brezny said...

The rules were well-known in advance. They're freely available to anyone.

That the 2003 version of the DNC Charter is on the Internet is not proof that Article 3 of it is well-known by any particular voter.

PatCA said...

Well, after '68, when Humphrey was nominated, the rules were made more inclusive (to favor the insurgent McGovern?); then by 1980 the bosses were sick of that and instituted superdelegates. The 1972 defeat I'm sure had something to do with that.
http://www.thisnation.com/question/038.html

ModNewt said...

I think the superdelegate system was set up just for the situation the party faces now - no clear cut frontrunner.

If that were the sole purpose of creating such a system, why create such a high percentage of Superdelegates (I'm no expert, but I've read that it's nearly 40%?). If it were merely a tiebreaker then all you'd need is 1%.

ModNewt said...

BTW, I'm bothered by at least some of the Super Delegate Congressemen/women who are saying they will vote in the convention for Clinton when the congressional district the represent voted for Obama (or vice versa, though in this case the problem is more prominent in the case of the former.)

Simon said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"It's tough luck. Yeah, in Communist China."

Maybe it's escaped your notice, but this isn't Communist China, and the Democratic Party isn't the Chinese Communist Party. Standards don't have to hold good for all countries and all times in order to be valid. they only have to hold good in America. I don't care about the rest of the world and what standards might be applicable in other countries.

"You seem to be missing the point that many of these voters are first-time voters, independents, and Republicans. They don't know the intricacies of Article 3 of the DNC's charter because they aren't in the Democratic Party and/or they just got involved in politics."

I've never voted in a Democratic primary in my life, and I have little intention of ever doing so. Yet even I know how they pick their candidates. So don't expect me to have sympathy for someone who's actually decided to involve themselves in a process they have no conception of the rules of. It's a bunch of whiny children who've never lifted a finger to change the system and who are only now getting bent out of shape because - as Gahrie pointed out upthread - the system's going to nominate a candidate they disapprove of.

Tell me what Bowers did prior to January 2007 to change this system. Link to a post of his expressing concern over the system before it became an obstacle to his preferred candidate. This is substantive beef masquerading as procedural beef.

John Stodder said...

After reading all this discussion, it's now clear the superdelegate provision is a very poor design.

They only make a difference in a close race. In every Democratic nomination process since they created the superdelegates, they've been irrelevant; the identity of the candidate was not in doubt. But in a close race, the political reality is, the Chris Bowers' of the world will not accept the party elites serving as the tiebreakers, especially if their votes go to the candidate who is technically behind.

If it stays this close, the superdelegates should vote "present" in the first round. If there's a second round, then all bets are off, but that's the case with all the other delegates too.

Are superdelegates stateless? Do they all sit together or are they just an extra handful of votes per each state they come from?

Steven said...

Look at how delegates are apportioned to states. Look at the wide variety of who is allowed to vote from state to state. Look at how Democrats living overseas have their own delegation. Look at how delegates are selected in, for example, the Iowa caucuses. Look at how New Hampshire is allowed to move its contest up from its DNC-authorized date and keep its delegates, while Michigan and Florida are not – or, if Michigan and Florida are seated, how Obama and Edwards got screwed for following the DNC's no-campaigning order.

There is no democratic process here to defend from the superdelegates; there is no clearly-expressed will of the voters to guard from non-democratic interference. There is merely a collection of a wide variety of arbitrary means that selects somewhere north of 4,000 delegates. The results of that process have equal democratic legitimacy and purity whether the "super" delegates vote with the majority of the "regular" delegates, or vote the other way.

If Chris Bowers and Donna Brazile really think that the nominee should be selected democratically, well, they should have made a fuss long enough ago to establish a democratic system of delegate selection, instead of this undemocratic primary-and-caucus-and-convention claptrap.

Blake said...

I wasn't aware children could vote, actually, but now that I am, I say "take that vote away!"

Revenant said...

I agree with Althouse; there's no moral issue here. The rules are the rules.

That being said, I think it would be bad PR for the Democratic Party to pick the person with the lower number of popular votes, especially after bashing Bush for that for over 7 years now. It could end up making the difference, especially since polls suggest that Obama would actually be the more-electable candidate against John McCain.

Jim C. said...

"Why should they now be told to subordinate their independent judgment?"

It's just like the voting procedures in Florida in 2000: "We know we said okay, but we were too stupid to understand what you meant! IT'S NOT FAIR! WAAAAAAAAH!"

Babies.

One of Bowers' commenters: "I don't accept the 'if my candidate does not win the nomination I'm going to take my ball and go home' attitude; that's how we got Richard Nixon."

At least one Dem can see the reality of their situation. But who knows if there are enough of them like him?

Blake said...

Eli,

You're right about the Reps, I think. They're called "unpledged delegates" and I don't see how they're not "superdelegates". Score one for the Reps on PR, IMO.

'course, 6% ain't 20%. 5% is almost within the margin for error in an election. But it does create an interesting conundrum. If Obama gets 50% and Clinton gets 40% (which may be a wider spread than is possible at this point), would it really be the case that (eg) 16% of the supers would go to Clinton and 4% to Obama? I mean, can anyone imagine that happening?

If the Clintons are the bullies they're made out to be, an Obama victory would rid them of that troublesome pair once-and-for-all.

I dunno. I think MadMan may be right here. Even though this is exactly what the supers were designed to do, it ain't 1968 (or 1980, for that matter). I gotta believe the supers are going to throw their weight behind the winner (however marginal) to make it seem like a clear victory. That's better PR than "Well, here's a candidate even we aren't gung ho on."

Mortimer Brezny said...

children

I'm talking about 18-year olds.

Tully said...

Drill Sgt, PatCA is right. The rule changes were instituted in response to the '68 Chicago debacle, and resulted in McGovern getting the nomination (and his ass handed to him on a platter) in '72. The superdelegates were an attempt to put more of the old smoke-filled back room in play again.

Paul said...

"Consider all the Republicans who will cross over and vote in Democratic primaries when it is permitted, as it is in Texas I think, the biggest remaining state"

Who will they vote for?


Well, I'm a Texas Republican who will crossover on March 4 and vote in the Democratic primary, my party's nomination having been decided.

I shall vote for Barack Obama, for two reasons.

1) I do not wish to bear witness to another four or eight years of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton's psychosexual pathologies.

2) I despise John McCain, and I want him defeated, even crushed. In my judgment, Mr. Obama is more likely than Mrs. Clinton to effect that happy result.

Mortimer Brezny said...

So don't expect me to have sympathy for

It isn't about sympathy. It's about whether the superdelegate veto is arguably immoral. It is if it's fraudulent. You are more informed than the average first-time voter. You run a political/legal blog. You're a computer literate information junkie. One need not be as politically informed as you to vote. Because most voters aren't familiar with the text of Article 3 of the DNC Charter, they'll see the move as a bait-and-switch. That's what matters. Not blogger Simon Dodd's sophisticated elite opinion.

I don't care about Bowers. I'm not reading his post because he's a prissy, bloviating jackass.

[T]he Democratic Party isn't the Chinese Communist Party

Can I quote you on that? I'll use that against you during the general election.

In any event, I know we don't live in Communist China. The point is that "tough luck" isn't an argument against deliberately perpetuated unfairness; it reads like a Communist dogma attempting to justify the treachery of the Chinese Communist Party.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I agree with Althouse; there's no moral issue here. The rules are the rules.

What if the death penalty weren't publicized (or was actively kept secret) and you committed murder, totally unaware that it was a possible punishment for your crime?

Gahrie said...

What if the death penalty weren't publicized (or was actively kept secret) and you committed murder, totally unaware that it was a possible punishment for your crime?

Are you kidding? Or just ignorant?
The superdelegate system has been around and in the open since the early 80's, and in fact played a major role in Mondale's nomination in 1984.

Fen said...

Are Democrats aware that we don't live in a Democracy?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Are you kidding? Or just ignorant? The superdelegate system has been around and in the open since the early 80's, and in fact played a major role in Mondale's nomination in 1984.

No, I am not ignorant, but many people are, including many of the voters in the Democratic nomination process. Not everyone was old enough in 1984 to remember it or remember it well. Say, if you were born in 1990.

Gahrie said...

I thought they were a response to the McGovern Electoral debacle of 72 rather than Humphrey in 68.


The Democratic Nomination rules were changed after the 1968 convention in such a way as to take power from the party bosses and give it to the Democratic voter.

The rules were changed again after the 1980 covention to restore some power to the party bosses by creating the superdelegate system.

Gahrie said...

No, I am not ignorant, but many people are, including many of the voters in the Democratic nomination process

So how do you propose we deal with this ignorance? Perhaps give a test at the polls before allowing people to vote?

Why is it that Democratic voters are always the ones screwing things up by being too ignorant to vote properly?

Mortimer Brezny said...

So how do you propose we deal with this ignorance? Perhaps give a test at the polls before allowing people to vote?

That would be the logical extension of your position. Which is -- ahem -- immoral.

Gahrie said...

My position is immoral? How so?

Have we really come to the point where believing that the rules should be followed, and that people should be responsible for their actions, including their ignorance, is immoral?

Fen said...

Why is it that Democratic voters are always the ones screwing things up by being too ignorant to vote properly?

Good point. The Florida 2000 ballot was designed by a Dem and published in the local papers months before the election. No one found it "confusing" until after they lost.

Fen said...

Since some are requesting a mulligan re election law:

"Ignorance of the law is no excuse"

Can we get a re-write of that?

Revenant said...

No, I am not ignorant, but many people are, including many of the voters in the Democratic nomination process.

Well, they've learned an important lesson about paying attention to their party's politics.

Gahrie said...

I think it is immoral to attempt to change the rules of an ongoing process simply because your preferred candidate is at a disadvantage.

Of course, the Democrats have a long, sad history of attempting to do precisely that.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Can we get a re-write of that?

Except thats not really true. The question is not whether it's the "letter of the law," but whether it's the law. In any event, we deal not here with the law, but party rules, which are certainly not "the law". Moreover, even if party rules were "the law," ignorance of the law applies to those facing prosecution, and voters -- those exercising a civic duty, should not be lumped in with law-breakers. Not to mention ignorance of the law is a slogan that isn't even half-true. If you think you're breaking the law, but you aren't, you're safe. If the AG writes you a letter and you follow it, but he turns out to be wrong, you're safe. If you violate the letter of the law, but you lack the necessary mens rea, you're safe. Ignorant voting, on the other hand, is perfectly compatible with our no poll tax, no literacy test tradition. So you're just m@#$%^&uck!@# wrong.

I think it is immoral to attempt to change the rules of an ongoing process simply because

Except Chris Bowers is not an Obamacan. He was all about Edwards until the last dying breath of Joe Trippi's corpse. (Yes, I know Joe Trippi is still alive, and he still purchases mousse by the gallon. I have the Costco receipts.) Bowers does not like Hillary, fine. But I have no reason to think he is being dishonest. Even if Hillary! were the candidate of change-as-Bowers-sees-it, he would probably still be angsty and all Sorrows-of-Werther-like about the unfairness of the rules being switched on the low-info peeps. That's because he's an uber-liberal into transparency and fairness-as-consistency and all that jazz. Whatevs.

Well, they've learned an important lesson about paying attention to their party's politics.

And you're a jerk. We've all learned that.

Have we really come to the point where believing that the rules should be followed, and that people should be responsible for their actions, including their ignorance, is immoral?

Have we really come to the point where springing secret, hidden, acrane rules on people who don't know about them and had no means to discover them is the way to disenfranchise people and legitimately claim it is fair?

One time I recall being involved in student government. This fat girl knew Roberts Rules of Order cold. No one else knew them. She insisted on using Roberts Rules of Order to decide disputes and determine who spoke because -- lo and behold! -- she was the only one who knew the rules! So I noted this to the others and we decided to do things by raising one's hand and having license to speak so long as one had the communal pen. (The pen that was randomly on the table when I made my speech. Surprise, surprise! They all agreed with me.) Yeah, the rules are "the Rules," but they don't exist to frustrate people and deter deliberation. The rules being "the rules" assumes that everyone knows them and is willing to accept their application. Springing generally unkown b.s. on people makes them angry. Oh, and, just to be fair, how many of you spouting this rules-are-rules-rhetoric are registered Democrats?

barry said...

It's hard to imagine that most superdelegates would be willing to thwart the wishes of a solid majority of Democratic voters.

But if either candidate emerges with a narrow margin, the opponent can say, with justification, that not every state held a primary, and that the caucus process is hardly majoritarian anyway. It seems to empower more affluent, suburban and rural voters.

Many Congresspersons from caucus states can rightly argue that they won ten times as many votes from Democrats in their districts than the delegates chosen by the caucuses there.

And what if the process yields a slight majority to Obama, while Clinton continues to enjoy a majority in public opinion polls? The polls aren't actual "polls," but they may be better indications of the people's wishes than the caucus process-- especially if Clinton's majority increases, even slightly, in the majority of polls.
They may also be better indications of the opinions of Democrats at that moment, which could be several months after the early primaries.

And what if a superdelegate judges that one candidate is more likely to win in November? If he chooses that candidate over the one with slightly more delegates, isn't he protecting the franchise of the supporters of both candidates? Or most of them, anyway?

Could someone provide historical context? Who pushed through the superdelegate idea and why? Was it even intended to decide a two-way race, or was it designed to deal with a chaotic 3- or 4-person race? I.e., what was the original intent of the bylaw?

Fen said...

Oh, and, just to be fair, how many of you spouting this rules-are-rules-rhetoric are registered Democrats?

I don't see your point. Ann is a registered Democrat.

Besides, don't we all face a similar prospect with electoral college delegates? Historically, they've been loyal to their party, but nothing stops them from siding against the will of the majority.

Chip Ahoy said...

I do believe we behold the evil of political parties in full display, livid vivid open vivisection. (<-- How's that for alliteration?). It's not the slightest bit ironic to manufacture an intervening priest to do the praying for you, and most the thinking for you, when you substitute a political party for a religion. Bleh. I've learned to process all human interaction in terms of control. It's speeds things immeasurably. When processing political parties think control x 100, when processing Democratic party, think control freaks. Oh, delegate? Oh, superdelegate? So that's the level of control you've managed to wrest from your compatriots.

My friend, always my senior these friends, wondered aloud, in this computer age, why democracy wasn't direct. I recalled being laughed out of a high school civics class for wondering that same thing.

This practice actually shows contempt for democracy and a fondness for plutocracy, in the case of Democratic party, cleptocracy. (<-- spellcheck rejects) I look to a day when both these parties go the way of the, of the, something that's extinct.

P. Rich said...

Hoist. Petard.

People are confusing a political Party with a country. The former is just a loose-knit collection of supposedly like-minded people. It is not bound to adhere to any principles, and should not be expected to do so - especially if it's the Democratic Party which, as far as I can tell, has no guiding principles it can discuss in public.

This super-delegate ploy exists solely for the purpose of giving Party bosses and establishment figures (read insiders) control of contested elections. It is intended to ensure that the "worst" candidate (read least favored in the eyes of the super-delegates) does not get the nomination. If it were supposed to represent the will of Democratic voters, i.e. vote with the majority at convention time, it would always be completely superfluous. That should be obvious, but apparently escapes the less thoughtful.

Monarchs and dictators have "independent judgment" too. So the purpose of that argument is not clear.

And finally, the super-delegate group will, by its make-up, always be biased in favor of Party-regular cronies and not newcomers and outsiders precisely because the latter will not have decades of participation in Party machinations. This puts Obama at a decided disadvantage. Thus one can predict with assurance at this point that Billary will be winning the nomination regardless of regular voter count or regular delegate count. The ongoing primary is just theater for the masses.

Seneca the Younger said...

It's very long, mostly an expression of passion and anger, but his point is that he likes a democratic approach and equates it with morality without making any real argument.

Practically a summary of this whole campaign.

Paco Wové said...

Oh, and, just to be fair, how many of you spouting this rules-are-rules-rhetoric are registered Democrats?

I'm a registered Democrat, and I think you're full of it, Mortimer.

Gahrie said...

Except Chris Bowers is not an Obamacan. He was all about Edwards .... Bowers does not like Hillary, fine

A little understated. He hates all things Clinton. And I couldn't disagree with you more. If Clinton's and Obama's positions were reversed, you wouldn't be hearing a peep from Bowers.

The only person the nutsroots hate more than the Clintons is Pres. Bush.

Gahrie said...

Have we really come to the point where springing secret, hidden, acrane rules on people who don't know about them and had no means to discover them is the way to disenfranchise people and legitimately claim it is fair?


For the last time, this is bullshit. They are not secret, hidden or arcane rules.

They've been enforce, and discussed in the media, ever election since 1980. They played a key role in 1984. They've been openly discussed in the media for the last three months.

They don't disenfranchise anyone. And if you want to start whining about disenfranchising, how about the Democratic primary voters of Florida or Michigan? Oh, that's right, they voted for Clinton, so they don't matter.

Ann Althouse said...

Mortimer Brezny said..."'I agree with Althouse; there's no moral issue here. The rules are the rules.' What if the death penalty weren't publicized (or was actively kept secret) and you committed murder, totally unaware that it was a possible punishment for your crime?"

Now, that's funny!

Ralph said...

The superdelegates were an attempt to put more of the old smoke-filled back room in play again.
Exactly, and not necessarily the worst thing for the party. My father never forgave Gov. Terry Sanford for switching the NC delegation from LBJ to JFK. Now the deals don't have to be in the open, pissing many people off.

Of course, if you claim to be the party of the common people, there's no escaping the elitist stink of it.

Ann Althouse said...

Fen, I think in Wisconsin you don't register in a party, so if that's true, then when I registered in 1984, I didn't register as a Democrat, although at that time, without question, if I had had to choose a party, I would have chosen the Democratic Party. Before I moved to Wisconsin, I voted in New Jersey, Michigan, and New York, and if I had to pick a party, it was the Democratic Party. I have never registered as an independent or a Republican.

And let me add that I've voted in every presidential primary since 1972, and I have always voted for a Democrat, though I'm not sure I can remember who I voted for in each one. I'm certain I voted for Carter in the New York primary in 1976 (odd, because I voted against him in the election). I think I voted for Jesse Jackson in 1988. I'm sure I did not vote for Clinton in 1992 and sure I said "He's a Republican" at the time. I voted for Edwards in the 2004 primary.

Pretty damned Democratic, don't you think?!

PatCA said...

"The Florida 2000 ballot was designed by a Dem and published in the local papers months before the election. No one found it "confusing" until after they lost."

Apparently, some Florida voters went to their polling place this year on Super Tuesday, wanting to vote, in an election that occurred the week prior!

Zeb Quinn said...

Part of me hopes the Democrats do use their vote-count scheme to screw the black guy out of the nomination, something he won by sheer popular acclaim. Black Democrats will get a very pointed object lesson about the corrupt party they've been blindly supporting for about 40 or 50 years.

former law student said...

Ann, what was morally wrong with juice loans? The borrower knew up front that he had to pay 100% interest every Friday or have his kneecaps broken. Having his kneecaps broken is just too damn bad, I guess.

Gahrie said...

former law student:

I'm not Althouse....however..

The reason "juice loans" are immoral is because they violate the laws of the United States.

There is no law against superdelegates.

former law student said...

gharie: it's not all about you:

Ann: What's morally wrong with following the rules that everyone knew all along?
Me: Ann, what was morally wrong with juice loans? Both borrower and lender knew the rules all along.

Simon said...

Revenant said...
"I think it would be bad PR for the Democratic Party to pick the person with the lower number of popular votes, especially after bashing Bush for that for over 7 years now. It could end up making the difference, especially since polls suggest that Obama would actually be the more-electable candidate against John McCain."

Plus, it's especially sweet irony that the message the dems are sending to Florida this year about the primary and their votes is the complete opposite they were sending in November-December 2000. "Count every vote" is unmasked as "count every vote until we've got enough to win."


Mortimer Brezny said...
"One need not be as politically informed as you to vote."

No, of course not. Similarly, one need not be mechanically informed to buy the Haynes guide and try to fix one's own engine when something goes wrong, but if I - mechanically incompetent - decide to give it a go anyway, two hours later I can't then throw up my hands and complain about how unfair it is that I've made the problem even worse and all I've got to show for it is that I'm cold and I'm covered in grease. There's a vast difference between saying you have to have a given knowledge of politics and the world around you to vote, on the one hand, and saying that you can't complain about what happens if you do so, on the other. I still want to see an answer to my electoral college comparison - can a voter who has no comprehension of how a Presidential election works advance the sort of complaints you're advancing here when the candidate they voted for isn't President?


"'[T]he Democratic Party isn't the Chinese Communist Party.' Can I quote you on that? I'll use that against you during the general election."

Of course you can, but since I don't compare the Democratic Party to the Chinese Communist Party, it won't get you very far. They don't need to be the CCP (or even communists) to be profoundly dangerous.


"The point is that "tough luck" isn't an argument against deliberately perpetuated unfairness; it reads like a Communist dogma attempting to justify the treachery of the Chinese Communist Party."

There's no deliberately perpetuated unfairness here. There's the rules, laid down in advance, known to all (or at lesat knowable to all). The legitimate time to change the rules is from behind something akin to Rawls' veil of ignorance - when you don't know which candidate changing the rules hurts and which it helps. Any decision about seating Florida and Michigan taken after it becomes clear whether doing so helps Clinton or Obama becomes tenuous in terms of legitimacy, for obvious reasons; ditto arguments over superdelegates. Ann wrote about something like this in her article on Bush v. Gore, IIRC, with regards to counting standards. Bowers' argument isn't legitimate because of the what, it's illegitimate because of the when. The time to raise it was two years ago, or a year hence.


Mortimer Brezny said...
"[Revenant agrees with Althouse that there's no moral issue here. The rules are the rules.] What if the death penalty weren't publicized (or was actively kept secret) and you committed murder, totally unaware that it was a possible punishment for your crime?"

False comparison. The comparison here is if the death penalty for murder was well-known, publicly-available information, and you committed murder, fully aware that death was a possible punishment for the crime.

somefeller said...

Radar says (way up the comment chain): And what if someone disagrees with that assumption? What if they say: "Democrat D1 can't win against Republican R and so despite the fact that Democrat D1 received 0.1% more popular votes than Democrat D2 I'm going to vote for D2 to get the party nomination"

Then, different assumption leads to different end result. I think I made it clear that my analysis was based on a particular set of assumptions, the most important one being that the superdelegates would have a clear leader in the vote tallies that they would be rejecting, and they'd know that doing so would harm the party (that person's supporters staying home, the bad publicity caused by such a move, etc.).

The 0.1% example you cite obviously isn't "clear leader" issue (no one would seriously argue that 0.1% is a clear lead in any circumstance), so that argument doesn't get you anywhere. Also, if we are assuming that D1 = Obama and D2 = Clinton and D1 has a clear lead over D2, I think it's safe to say that D1 is not a vastly inferior general election candidate than D2, thus making whatever problems caused by picking D2 much smaller than the problems of picking D1. And this is from someone supporting D2. Plus, if D1 runs the table in the next month or so, this will all be a moot point.

newscaper said...

"Not to mention reading the DNC Charter is not a precondition to voiting. If you want to rob children and nontraditional voters of their votes, fine, but next time around expect a depressed turnout."

LOL about "the children." WTF?

Perhaps each party's primary ballot should have a Terms of Use you are required to check off before voting?

Hell, take it a step farther and require a quiz that gets the voter to identify the current Prez & VP, House SPeaker, and majority minority party leaders in Senate and House? Maybe allow *one* error.

Mortimer Brezny said...

known to all (or at lesat[sic] knowable to all).

While I have no idea what vampires have to do with this issue, clearly there is a major gulf between something being plausibly knowable and being universally known. That is why your position is fallacious. That is the source of our contention.

Mortimer Brezny said...

The comparison here is if the death penalty for murder was well-known,

No. It is not.

tpcarr05 said...

I've read all the comments but did you guys realize that Bill clinton is a Super delegate???...hmmm I wonder who he'll vote for---it's Superdelegates like that that are unfair and I'm sure there are a lot of people in government that him favors.From what I can see bill wants to be president really bad.

Roger said...

To quote Kos: screw 'em. (Democratic party, not contractors in Iraq). The Democratic party and their followers made this mess and they can live with it. If democratic activists throughout the country didnt undertand the rules going in they are even stupider than I thought--Of course, democratic voters had a hell of a time with those butterfly ballots in West Palm Beach; so I can only assume the average IQ of a democrat is slightly higher than a rutabaga. I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning.

Steven said...

It's ridiculous to single out the superdelegate system as being undemocratic or unfair when the entire primary-and-caucus system is blatantly undemocratic and unfair. One might as well object to letting the Mississippi run into the Gulf of Mexico on the grounds that it makes the Gulf wet.

LoafingOaf said...

I mean, you wouldn't argue - I presume you wouldn't argue, maybe you would - that a Presidential election ballot ought to have the disclaimer "warning: your ballot is part of a process of selecting your state's vote in the electoral college, and the winner of the state or national popular votes will not necessarily be deemed the winner of this election." So what steps ought to have been taken? It just seems crazy to me that you're trying to blame the DNC for pig-ignorant voters' failure to live up to their responsibility to inform themselves.

In the late 1990s, a political science professor told my class that the electoral college was archaic and odd but it would be very unlikely for the candidate who won the popular vote to lose the election, and if the popular vote went a different way than the electoral college in a future election people would be so upset that we would surely abolish the electoral college, but that it was not really something to worry about as the outcomes will likely always reflect the popular vote. A couple years later Gore won the popular vote but lost the election and no one changed the electoral college (I'm torn on whether it ought to be changed).

I don't think people are necessarily ignorant, but rather they dislike when outcomes don't reflect the popular vote when they think the popular vote will be for their desired outcome. So, people will pressure superdelegates to help the outcome they desire, and if pressuring them to follow the popular vote serves that desired outcome that is an argument (a strong argument) they'll make.

If you can even make superdelegates feel they will be painted as doing something immoral if they buck the majority vote, that's perfectly fair hardball politics. Why shouldn't people use good ammo when they've got it.

I'm not a member of either party. I'm pleased to see the GOP is going with McCain over idiots like Romney and Huckabee, and I'm hoping we'll have a McCain vs Obama race. Astonishing that so many Democratic voters are still voting for a Clinton when they have such a viable and good alternative.

I may have to take part in the Democratic Party's Ohio primary to help get rid of Hillary. I think a well-brought-up and honest young man like Barack will win Ohio, and I'd feel honored if my state helps kick the Clintonoids to the curb. :)

Fen said...

In the late 1990s, a political science professor told my class that... if the popular vote went a different way than the electoral college in a future election people would be so upset that we would surely abolish the electoral college...(I'm torn on whether it ought to be changed)...I don't think people are necessarily ignorant, but rather they dislike when outcomes don't reflect the popular vote

Basing the election on the popular vote will disinfranchise smaller state. We're a Republic, not a Democracy.

Think of it this way: you're a rancher out in Wyoming. Do you really want metropolitan blue city-states voting down your right to own firearms and drive SUVs, because they are [rightfully] ignorant that your police department is 30 mins away and they have no clue why a rancher/farmer would need 4 SUVs?

Thats what would happen. California, New York, Texas and Florida would determine how everyone else in the country lives.

LoafingOaf said...

Thats what would happen. California, New York, Texas and Florida would determine how everyone else in the country lives.

No, they'd just have a lot more power in determining who our president is, and presidential candidates would focus their campaigns on those states and possibly ignore less populated regions.

I dunno. It feels wrong when the president lost the popular vote, but then again, I like that my state (Ohio) has more say in who will be elected. (Not that its done us much good....)

somefeller said...

"California, New York, Texas and Florida would determine how everyone else in the country lives."

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Fen said...

No, they'd just have a lot more power in determining who our president is, and presidential candidates would focus their campaigns on those states and possibly ignore less populated regions.

"Possibly"? Why would anyone spend time & energy in states like Wyoming when the road to the White House goes through LA & NYC?

somerfeller: You say that like it's a bad thing.

Given the bigotry of metro dwellers towards us "ignorant unsophisticated rednecks", yes - it would be horrible.

Fen said...

Simply look at a population density map. The East and West coast would determine how everyone else lives.

Fen said...

And illegal immigrants voting Democrat in Arizona, California and Texas would determine our immigration policy.

Middle Class Guy said...

Morals? Ethics?

In politics there are no morals or ethics. Grow up and get used to it.

somefeller said...

Texas isn't a coastal state, unless one thinks of the Gulf Coast as coastal. Which I do. And in any case, I live in the biggest city in Texas, so this would really be a good thing.

But seriously, I'm not so sure about the argument that a popular vote would lead to a greater degree of dominance by the big states. For one thing, there are large parts of the country that are written off by both parties because they are seen as a lock for one or the other, but such places would become more attractive if they are (i) seen as being places where one could offset other voting blocs (i.e.: Republicans going for total romps in parts of the South where they now are happy to get an easy 55-60% without spending resources) or (ii) are places where getting a bigger bloc of the minority might add to the numbers (i.e.: Republicans trying to up their position in NY or CA by 5-10%, not enough to win the state but a big chunk of voters to have in the pocket). Also, this might lead to less party polarization, in that there is more incentive to run everywhere than to just focus on a select band of states to win, which tends to support division of the country by region, and by extension, local culture.

Ralph said...

The dead of Chicago would rule the country.

Bruce Hayden said...

Interesting discussion. A lot more civil than many of the political discussions herein, possibly because it is about Democratic Party operations, and the standard trolls here tend to be more sympathetic to the Democratic Party. However, just a surmise, and wish that more threads could be so congenial.

My view from the outside is that the Democratic Party has long been the machine party, and that the democratization of the party in response to 1968 ran counter to that, and so this is the revenge of the party elite. And have no doubt, the Democratic Party has long been the party of elites running the party, buying votes from the lower classes. No surprise that there are significantly more very rich Democrats in the Senate than Republicans. Those are the elites who were somewhat disenfranchised by those reforms.

But we do know that at least some of the super-delegates are going to vote for Obama - think Kerry and Kennedy.

What is being missed here though is the likelihood that Obama will prevail in the delegate count but not the popular vote because of FL and MI, where he didn't compete and Hillary won handily. There does appear to be a (obviously Clinton inspired) attempt to seat the delegates for those states. At present, that seems doomed, but still, that would be a great way for the Clintonistas to bypass the Superdelegate problem, esp. since they are likely to still have a lot of sway with those making the decision.

But that comes with a price tag, as does the super-delegates swinging the nomination to Hillary! The reason that a Democrat looks somewhat likely to win right now is that a lot of Republicans are demoralized, esp. with the prospect of the well disliked McCain their almost certain nominee. But screwing Obama out of the nomination by either seating those delegates or via the super-delegates is going to demoralize one of the Democratic Party's most crucial voting blocks - Blacks, and may drive down their voting rate to the extent that the Republicans win in some swing states. This may also be a factor with the young adult vote which also seems to prefer Obama, and are likely the voters who are giving the Democratic Party its surge right now. And while the Blacks are likely to return to the fold in subsequent elections, the young voters may not.

Middle Class Guy said...

Ralph said...
The dead of Chicago would rule the country.



We are trying to figure out if we can run a dead mayor against the moron we have now. If the dead can vote, can the dead run for office?

Fen said...

And in any case, I live in the biggest city in Texas, so this would really be a good thing

And my home city is/will be again Dallas. I'm thinking about what would be good for the country, not what would serve my own selfish interests.

Bez said...

Obviously there is something wrong with our democratic system...if people vote one way, yet the establishment votes against the vote of the people. I think this is the first time in history where the voice of the voting public can not be hushed....it seems unjust and unfair that "superdelegates" choose our next president..i hope it does not come to that, and i hope that once this primary is over and done with we can just go with the popular vote for both the primary and general election.

Lynn said...

One of the more common criticisms of President Bush is that he doesn't listen, he just does what he wants. While legally the super-delegates are not bound to follow the will of the people, are they any better than President Bush if they think they know better and do what they want?

Chuck750 said...

Democracy is completely discarded with superdelegates! It is true that most of these S.D.'s are elected by the people, but don't these S.D.'s have a vote in their own State! This amounts to a 2nd vote for one person (with the singular gift of a delegate for the nomination to the highest office). What year is this? I think maybe 1808 or so.....