A possible compromise on superdelegates

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.

8 thoughts on “A possible compromise on superdelegates

  1. Sue Prent

    Sad. Our home guy brings the progressive ‘revolution’ to the nation that young people are seeking; Vermonters demonstrate their overwhelming support for that candidate in the primary; and Vermont’s few supers endorse the center establishment candidate who served on the board of Walmart, is an old-school Hawk, and gave closed-door speeches on Wall Street.

    Of course that is their privilege, but don’t be surprised if they don’t get enthusiastic support back home after this.

      1. Terje

        Sue… not sure where you got the idea that only one state Senator and two state Reps have endorsed Bernie.

        Here’s what the Wikipedia page lists for legislative endorsements:


        That list includes 3 Senators (Ashe, Pollina and Zuckerman), and 27 current state reps. (There were other state reps in attendance yesterday at the state convention, sitting as Sanders delegates, who were not included on this list – so the number is doubtless higher.)

        I’d also note that not all VT Supers are endorsing Clinton — while 4 are (Dean, Leahy, Gosh and Shumlin), 5 (6 if you don’t count Bernie himself) are backing Sanders (Cassidy, Condos, Deans, Jerman and Welch).

        I personally would prefer to see all the super delegate positions converted into ex-officio non-voting positions for future conventions. Or, falling short of that, come up with other mechanisms to significantly lessen their influence/numbers and increasing their accountability.

  2. newzjunqie

    Not a hill to die on but how stupid do they think electorate is. Did I miss something–how is this fair. Orwellian double-speak becoming the official language. In actuality seems no different than justice swerved. Simple trickery to void Bernie above-landslide of VT voters. Who needs party bosses with “grassroots” such as these. It’s the supers that were supposed to replace the bosses and now relegated to delegate status *I think*. More shenanigans in other states from party establishment will serve to enrage Bernie supporters who sure as hell *will not* vote for Hellary and a dark victory if there is one.

    Still smarting following choice of at least some R party bosses and others on the right approval of Trump or he couldn’t have made presumptive & personally not even a Republican just hoped for better. So Bernies’ followers certainly will feel no less depressed than we the still horrified. Only silver lining is reality of a chance Libertarians whose platform includes right and left elements with support from disenfranchised for possible win or sending election to Senate.

  3. NanuqFC

    Given that the reported chair of the convention is Rich Cassidy, who has loudly announced his total support for Bernie, the close cousins of the Bernie bros who rioted in Nevada would have no excuse for such misbehavior. If anything, I expect the voices of support for Hillary will be drowned out and silenced under Cassidy’s authority, but the Hillary hopers and helpers haven’t shown that level of propensity for violence when they don’t get their way.

    And, of course, the Democratic primary system was set up so that people who are unlikely to win in the general, or people from outside the party who haven’t worked well with party elected folks, or contributed much — if anything — to down-ballot candidates or to the party itself, will have to do some extra convincing that their candidacy is good for Democrats and good for the country. Or we could just leave it to another great-sounding candidate like George McGovern and lose in 49 states to a power-hungry, paranoid wacko, as happened in 1972. McGovern himself helped construct a primary process he later benefited by, which reduced the influence of party regulars. Yeah, let’s do that.

    Bernie is not a Democrat and never has been one. He has barely acknowledged the help of the Vermont Democratic Party, which changed its bylaws so it could endorse Bernie, a non-Democrat, to enable Bernie to get access to DNC funds. He has consistently bitten the hand held out to him. He’d rather kick Democrats than Donald Trump. So, yeah, sure, Democrats should just hand over whatever Bernie feels entitled to, regardless of his past actions.

    If you want to get into ancient history, Sue, let’s talk about how it took Bernie years before he would agree to a Burlington Women’s Council. I was there, in Burlington, for that struggle. Just like it took him years before he ever issued a proclamation in support of or appeared at the LGBT pride march/eventual celebration. In his close-minded socialist theory, women were supposed to have babies for the Revolution, and being gay or lesbian was an aberration of capitalist society which would disappear when the Socialist State was firmly established. Not to mention the rape fantasy thing Bernie wrote, which was before my time here, so I can’t really comment on it.

    Then there’s his no-details policy proposals: all slogans, no real plans for how to accomplish them, particularly without the Congressional allies whose campaigns he hasn’t contributed to nor urged his “revolutionary” supporters to contribute to and vote for. One suspects that Bernie and Jane operate in similar fashion: big. laudable visions without either the policy chops or detailed planning necessary to make them come to fruition (see: Burlington College closing for lack of funding following multi-million-dollar debt incurred for former diocese land purchase). Then there’s Bernie’s near-total lack of foreign policy experience.

    I’m not dissing Bernie, just looking at qualifications, just as I would if I were on the hiring committee for a CEO. Unlike how you, Sue, and others in the Bernie camp totally dismiss Hillary Clinton, who has the most experience and expertise specific to this job of any candidate out there.

    I could probably go on, but nevermind. I don’t expect to change minds. Reminds me of a saying I’ve seen often: minds are like parachutes — they work only when open.

    1. Sue Prent

      I’ve never disagreed with Hillary’s qualifications for president. I just don’t believe her when she espouses progressive values and I don’t think she’s a particularly strong candidate in this anti-establishment year. Bringing up Bill on economics just cast further doubt on the authenticity of her progressive claims.

      I’ve also disagreed with Bernie on quite a number of things over the years, but I have never been a single issue voter. He is authentically voicing positions that matter to me and I am entirely in agreement that no time will be better for bringing those positions to the floor of the Democratic convention. I do not believe that any of Bernie’s issues with Hillary will help Trump in the least.
      He’s just as vulnerable on the financial front and has at one time or another taken nearly every position possible on nearly any issue you can name. He tells the truth only 3% of the time according to an actual fact-checker, yet he calls her “Ly’in Hillary.” He, a card-carrying cheat, essentially blames Hillary for Bill’s bad behavior. He doesn’t even bother to engage on policy.

      That battle will not be based on anything resembling real issues. If the Hillary camp can let the primaries play out without an excess of scorn, remembering that Bernie always promised to go all the way to the convention, I do believe most (but not all) of his supporters can be persuaded by Supreme Court arguments and some well-earned concessions, to give her campaign a badly needed heart-transplant. If not…well…

      In any case, the fact that the majority of American voters no longer identify with either party suggests that somethings got to give.

  4. newzjunqie

    To say nothing of the 600 lb gorilla which follows the Clintons’ wherever they are, aka looming charges from FBI or agency-wide walkout complete with leaked details of the crimes & irresponsible behavior. Details of which will very likely show the selling-out of our great nation to foreign government interests for millions in donations to Clinton Machines Inc, er, the charitable “Foundation”, just a larger version of their looting of the White House following end of term.
    Plus selling sleepovers with pick-of-rooms to foreign “guests” for donations–Maureen Dowd said they turned WH into Motel 6. How sleazy can one be. And proving unfitness for high office with ever-widening the spread of voter distrust. Impeachible offenses before even getting in. Supporters shrug shoulders murmuring gorilla…what gorilla. How can anyone choose ppl who should & would be in jail if even a lower-level of government employee & partly why Bernie is being urged to stay in. If he did not have the support he couldn’t & wouldn’t.

  5. Susan Prent

    I must have been looking at an incomplete source for Vermont endorsements, Terje. You’re absolutely right. It did sound a little strange to me when I read it.



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