Tag Archives: superdelegates

The Paige Exclusion

Congratulations to the Vermont Democratic Party for giving perennial fringe candidate H. Brooke Paige more publicity in a few days than he could possibly earn on his own this entire year.

The VDP did so by ordering his banishment from all party events, reportedly due to impertinent and offensive comments posted by Paige on Facebook.

Mixed feelings about this. I don’t have much use for perennial fringe candidates; as far as I’m concerned, it’s too easy for people to get on the ballot and even grace the occasional debate stage without proving they hold the least bit of appeal or interest for the electorate. Waste of time and space. Detracts from direct confrontations among candidates who actually matter. That goes for Paige and for Emily Peyton and Cris Ericson and the entire Diamondstone clan.

Paige is an irritant* in all senses of the word. He runs for at least one office every cycle, sometimes as a Republican, sometimes as a Democrat, and I think as independent on occasion. He has also fomented birther claims against not only President Obama, but also Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. I can see why the Democrats would want to be rid of him. And, after all, it’s their party and they can make their own rules. Or even cry if they want to.

*Irritants produce distress, annoyance, and the occasional pearl. 

That said, their reaction seems unduly stiff.

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Kill the caucuses

I was chatting with a Bernie Sanders supporter recently, and (of course) the subject of superdelegates came up. He, of course, sees them as anti-democratic, a tool for the party hierarchy to exert a measure of control.

I see them as a reasonable way for the party to give weight to its most successful and most stalwart figures, but I have no problem with the Vermont Compromise: allow superdelegates if the party wants ‘em, but tie their first-ballot votes to the result of their state’s primary or caucus.

We also discussed primaries, open vs. closed. He favors open primaries, as the most (small-d) democratic way to choose a candidate.

This is all in accord with the general proposition that more voter participation is better than less. So, fine.

But then we get to caucuses. The Sanders supporter hadn’t given them much thought, but felt that there was a place for them because they reflect the level of “passion” behind a candidate.

This isn’t just one person’s view. Generally, the Sanders camp seems unconcerned with the potential unfairness of caucuses. When, in fact, a caucus is one of the best voter-suppression tools around.

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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:

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The small-D democratic case for Hillary

The pressure is growing on the four Vermont superdelegates to drop Hillary Clinton in favor of Bernie Sanders. Well, the voices of the disaffected are growing louder, anyway. I don’t see any sign of a mass movement.

Nor should I. As I’ve explained before, the superdelegate system is a legitimate expression of a party’s legitimate self-interest. No presidential primary season has ever been a pure reflection of the popular vote; the presidential selection system is governed by the parties because their nomination is a prize that is theirs to bestow.

Superdelegates are people who have served the Democratic Party well and loyally. It’s reasonable to argue that they deserve a voice in the presidential selection process.

Which won’t convince Sanders supporters who believe they’re getting screwed. But let’s put it this way:

… by every possible democratic measure, Clinton is winning. She’s winning in states (and territories) won, which isn’t a meaningful margin of victory anyway. She’s winning in the popular vote by 2.4 million votes — more than a third more than Sanders has in total. In part that’s because Sanders is winning lower-turnout caucuses, but it’s mostly because he’s winning smaller states. And she’s winning with both types of delegates.

That’s from Philip Bump of the Washington Post. And the numbers don’t lie: Hillary Clinton has won 2.4 million more votes than Bernie Sanders. Indeed, if there were no superdelegates at all, and the delegates were apportioned based on the vote, Clinton would still have a substantial lead over Sanders. She would still be the clear favorite to win the nomination.

She is The People’s Choice, f’real.

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A Bern for the worse

Straight up, Bernie Sanders was out of line. Dangerously so.

I’m talking about calling Hillary Clinton “not qualified” to be President. Not once, but over and over again.

Yes, he phrased it in terms of his typcal critiques of the Clinton record, but adding “not qualified” is a step too far. That’s a toxic, radioactive term. It crosses the line between criticism and defamation.

And it gives aid and comfort to the enemy. You don’t think conservative attack merchants aren’t already writing the ads, featuring artfully-edited passages from Bernie’s speech? He should know better than to provide them with ready-made cannon fodder.

Bernie claims that Hillary started it. “She has been saying lately that she thinks that I am, quote unquote, ‘not qualified’ to be president,” he told a crowd in Philadelphia last night.

That, right there, is a lie. She never said that, quote-unquote or otherwise.

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Bernie’s Trickle-Down Politics

In the aftermath of the Vermont primary, in which Hillary Clinton failed to reach the 15 percent threashold needed to qualify for convention delegates, there’s been more pressure on superdelegates who back Clinton to switch to Bernie Sanders. Because to vote for Clinton, the story goes, would be to ignore the wishes of the electorate.

Which fails to consider the disenfranchisement of the 13.6 percent who voted for Clinton. I’m not making that complaint; I have said the parties have the right to determine rules for choosing a presidential candidate, and I stick by that. I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy, that’s all. Both candidates benefit, and lose, in different ways that roughly cancel out.

What I am here to say is there are very good reasons for Pat Leahy and Peter Shumlin and Billi Gosh to support Hillary. They may believe she’s the stronger general-election candidate. They might value her long and loyal service to the Democratic Party, contrasted with Bernie-come-lately who has been harshly critical of the party but has also benefited, throughout his political career, from his arm’s-length affiliation with the Democrats.

And here’s another one, a big one, courtesy of the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank:

Hillary Clinton has raised $26 million for the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties so far this campaign. And Sanders? $1,000.

That’s no typo. Clinton is doing more to boost the party’s 2016 prospects than Sanders by the proportion of 26,000 to 1.

… Clinton has pledged to rebuild the party and has begun to make good on that promise. Sanders, by contrast, has shown little concern for the very real crisis the party faces beneath the presidential level.

Let me pause here and state, clearly, that I don’t blame Bernie for making this strategic choice. He has a revolution to build, and that costs money. His first priority is fully funding a presidential campaign, which is a very costly undertaking. He is doing what he needs to do.

However, as Milbank documents, the Democratic Party structure is in critical condition.

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Worst… Conspiracy… EVER

When I defended the Democrats for saving “superdelegate” seats for key officials, I expected to get blowback from Bernie supporters. And I did. And that’s fine. But I think something needs to be said in response.

The tenor of the blowback is basically that the Democrats are rigging the game for Hillary Clinton.

Well, if this is true, then it’s a woefully inept conspiracy.

Quiet! DNC At Work!

Quiet! DNC At Work!

The Democrats have set aside 15 percent of their delegate slots for officeholders and party leaders. These people can cast their convention votes as they see fit. Those who get superdelegate spots are not chosen for their loyalty to a particular candidate. If they were, then Sanders supporter Rich Cassidy wouldn’t have a superdelegate slot from Vermont. Hell, Bernie himself is a superdelegate — and he’s not even a Democrat.

And so far, less than half the superdelegates have endorsed Clinton.

And they are free to change their minds at any time.

That is one weak-ass conspiracy.

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