While covering the presidential horse race, CNN and other mainstream news outlets keeps showing “delegate counts” without explaining their significance, as if there’s no real distinction between “superdelegates” and the apparently not-so-super ones.
But there is a distinction, an important one. Regular delegates, or “pledged” delegates, correspond to actual votes. Superdelegate votes reflect the arbitrary whims and fancies of powerful individuals.
If you’re just a run-of-the-mill, garden variety delegate, you vote in accordance with the citizens of the state or region you were elected to represent. But SUPER-delegates don’t need to get bogged down in all that “representative democracy” crap–they can vote for whomever you want, for whatever reason.
The concern is that some super-delegates are corrupt (a far-fetched conspiracy theory, I know), and will vote solely on the basis of which candidate offers the juicier bribe.
And why do superdelegates get to have more say than everyone else? Anderson Cooper recently asked that very question to Jason Rae–a 21-year-old college student from Wisconsin who’s been a superdelegate since he was seventeen. According to Rae:
“It’s because as a superdelegate, I have an opportunity to interact with these candidates on a one-on-one basis and really get to understand the inner workings of what’s going on in the campaign. I think that really helps to make an informed decision when it comes time to vote at the convention.”
A country with less genuine politicians might worry about candidates bullshitting their asses off, tailoring these all important face-to-face interactions specifically to the superdelegate whose support they were enlisting.
The mainstream media will continue to gloss over this issue, but eventually the anti-democratic rationale behind the Democratic Party’s superdelegate system will become clear.
In order to achieve a legitimate victory, Mrs. Clinton needs to make up the ground she lost during her twelve-state losing streak. Virtual ties and nail-biter victories, such as those she celebrated in Texas and Ohio, won’t cut it. Hillary needs to win big, and she can’t.
If more American citizens vote against her than for her, will Clinton try to finagle a shady victory via super-delegate votes? Will she accept the nomination, even if the only way she can get it is by convincing the Jason Raes of the world to vote against the people they represent?
Maybe she’s counting on voters being too ignorant or apathetic to complain–as we were in 2000 when George W. Bush won the presidency despite receiving hundreds of thousands fewer votes than his opponent. A repeat of such a scenario will likely alienate many would-be constituents, deflecting them to McCain or to some third-party candidate.
Still, many Democratic super-delegates have already pledged to vote against the will of their constituents. We need to make it clear that this is unacceptable, even if Bill Clinton watches Super Bowls with them or Chelsea Clinton buys them lunch.
The only moral course of action for the Democratic Party to nominate whichever candidate wins the popular vote. If Hillary Clinton is unable to surpass Obama, she should concede the nomination and reimburse the super-delegates whose endorsements she purchased.