By Greg O’Brien, Codfish Press
And you thought your vote counted. Hey, wake up and smell the superdelegates!
By any current measure of Democratic politics, the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee could be chosen by party insiders—about 20 percent of the delegates to the party’s national convention in Denver this August who can vote as they see fit. That’s 796 privileged “superdelegates” out of 2,025 needed to win—mostly a bunch of middle-aged white guys who comprise the party’s congressional members, governors, mayors of large cities and towns and state party leaders. Hanging chads have nothing on these boyos. So much for the Democratic process and the party of inclusion that adopted the superdelegate rule 1982 to shore up the power of party leaders during the freewheeling primary and caucus season, and to prevent the nomination of an unelectable rube from outside the mainstream. Loosely translated: give us your tired, your poor, your hungry and disenfranchised, but don’t expect them to run our party. No way!
And don't be misled by front page New York Times headlines that the lunch pail masses have spoken: “Obama’s Support Grows Broader: A Surge Past Clinton.”
Braying Hilary Clinton—a superdelegate herself with an Associated Press delegate projection of 1,262—is hoping the superdelegate structure will break her freefall of 11 primary loses to Barack Obama, who has a slight AP delegate projection lead with 1,351 delegates. Quoting Clinton’s communications director Howard Wolfson, the Boston Globe reported that “Clinton will not concede the race to Obama if he wins a greater number of pledged delegates by the end of the primary season, and will count on the 796 elected officials and party bigwigs to put her over the top, if necessary.”
Said Wolfson, “I want to be clear that neither campaign is in a position to win this nomination without the support of the votes of the superdelegates.” Clinton now has a projected 241-to-181 edge over Obama in declared superdelegates.
Not to be outdone when it comes to manipulating party politics, Republicans have a patrician system of their own with 463 unbound delegates, all elite elected officials and party leaders in a primary system that requires 1,191 delegates to secure a presidential nomination—irrelevant with John McCain’s AP projected 957 delegates to Mike Huckabee’s weedy 254, which gives the former Arkansas governor about as much chance of winning the White House as Gomer Pyle had of going to Harvard. Shazam!
Of late, there have been repeated calls from the middle of the political spectrum and some from the left and right to eliminate superdelgates and unbound delegates, permitting presidential nominations to more precisely reflect the popular vote. A primary ballot in Roxbury or the Bronx ought to count as much as a vote cast in abounding Westchester, Fairfield and Middlesex counties without added weight from party leaders in the heat of a convention fight.
Our Founding Fathers certainly didn’t have superdelegates in mind when they fashioned the republic. The thought of such would have revolted them.