For those looking forward to shouting, fist-shaking, and furniture-heaving at Sunday’s state Democratic Convention, well, there’s a chance that good sense and a common carrot-topped foe may carry the day.
A group of folks affiliated with Rights and Democracy, the lefty grassroots organization, have put together a resolution on the contentious issue of superdelegates. And surprise, surprise, it doesn’t demand immediate action and it doesn’t demand that the four Hillary Clinton superdelegates switch over to Bernie Sanders.
The resolution notes the “inherent unfairness” in changing the rules in midstream for this year. Instead, it calls on the state and national parties “to require that superdelegates be bound on a first ballot to cast their votes in the same proportion as the popular vote in their home state primary election or nominating caucus” … “beginning with the 2020 presidential election.”
That strikes me as eminently reasonable. It would allow the party to reward top officials with delegate seats, but would tie first-ballot votes to the express preferences of the electorate. The supers could cast subsequent ballots, and conduct other party business, in accord with their own consciences and beliefs.
As for this year’s four supers who have promised their votes to Clinton, here’s the key passage of the resolution:
Be it further RESOLVED that the assembled delegates are aware that the stated preferences of Vermont’s superdelegates to 2016 National Democratic Convention are generally in proportion to the results of Vemont Democratic Presidential Primary election and Vermont’s superdelegates are urged confer and voluntarily vote for presidential candidates at the national convention in the same relative proportion as the popular vote in the Vermont Democratic primary election.
By sheer coincidence, if Clinton gets four votes from Vermont supers, the Vermont delegation will almost exactly reflect the results of the primary.
As an organization, Rights and Democracy has called for all supers to vote for Bernie on the first ballot. Indeed, the group has posted an online petition calling for unanimous Sanders support from the Vermont delegation.
The resolution is being publicized by R&D but is not officially an R&D document. It was created by a committee of R&D members, some of whom are officials in the Democratic Party. The resolution will be moved by R&D member (and state convention delegate) Scott Garren of Shrewsbury; he is the treasurer of the Rutland County Democrats and a member of the Democratic state committee. Here’s what he told me about the apparent shift from R&D’s position.
It is a shift. It has more to do with the venue and audience, and getting it passed, rather than a change in philosophy. It remains a goal of many to request [this year’s] superdelegates to support our home-state candidate. In this situation, at the state convention, we stepped back a little.
In the longer term, “It would be fine with me if [the superdelegate system] went away,” he said. “If not, the resolution would direct state parties to bind superdelegates to the result of the state’s primary or caucus on the first ballot.”
An artful compromise and an artful presentation.
There is still likely to be some ruckus at the state convention. This is not the only superdelegate resolution that will be on the agenda. But it is a clear attempt to further R&D’s goal while sidestepping a direct confrontation with the four superdelegates and party officials.
And in the end, it’s only four delegates. Not exactly a hill to die on. And, as the resolution points out, those four delegates would effectively represent the 14% of Vermonters who opted for Clinton, so it’s not exactly a crime against democracy.
I haven’t spoken to any other party officials about this, but I don’t think they’d have much trouble supporting the Garren resolution. Looks like we stand a decent chance of avoiding Nevada-style confrontation.