One thing that has absolutely amazed me lately is how Hillary Clinton is making herself out to be the “democratic” nominee because Obama allegedly doesn’t want to count the votes in Florida or Michigan and doesn’t want to finish the primary season because he’s afraid when all the votes are counted Hillary could win.
The problem with this assertion, of course, is when all the votes are counted it’s extremely unlikely that Clinton will be winning the popular vote, virtually impossible that she will be winning the delegate vote, and mathematically impossible that she will be winning the state count. So for the past six weeks she’s been working on a campaign to get the Democrat superdelegates to overturn the results of the primary.
I’m trying to figure out how that’s the “democratic” candidate. If you have any ideas, please let me know.
The whole idea of superdelegates seems very, for a lack of a better term, Republican to me. It’s essentially based upon the idea that the people don’t always pick a good candidate. According to Wikipedia (and how could an encyclopedia which anybody can edit possibly be wrong?), superdelegates were created in response to changes made to the Democrat Party nominee process which, get this, actually made the “composition of the convention less subject to control by party leaders and more responsive to the votes cast during the campaign for the nomination.” The party elders thought this weakened the ticket of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter (I’m not sure which Carter ticket was weakened; the one when he won or the one when he was the incumbent). The superdelegates were enacted in 1982 to help the Democrats create more viable tickets to beat the Republicans. The “new and improved” system promptly lost the next two elections. In fact, the only state the Democrats carried in the 1984 election was Minnesota (home to future U.S. Senator Al Franken). And the only Democrat to become President since that time was impeached. So common sense would say this system doesn’t work too well, right?
In fairness, you can’t pin the problems of the Democrat Party on the superdelegate system. While the superdelegates did get to flex their muscle almost immediately, choosing Walter Mondale over Gary Hart in 1984, the perception that they decided this election is not exactly accurate. Mondale was leading in popular vote and was only about 40 votes shy of clinching the nomination, so it’s not like they overturned the results of the primary. And other than 1984 they haven’t even had the chance to do so, as the winning candidate had clinched the nomination before the convention.
Until this year.
It is very unlikely that Obama will get the 1025 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. He probably will be down by quite a bit more than 40, as well. Which means Clinton will be trying her damndest to get them to overturn the will of the people. Her primary argument will be that she’s more electable, as evidence that she has won the “important” states. (That’s another funny thing about Clinton’s claim she’s the more democratic candidate. The only states that seem to count are the ones she wins.) Clinton also says she should be the nominee because she’s won more states with closed primaries. I’m not quite sure how her claim that Obama wins only because of independent voters somehow makes her more electable in a populace where a third of the voters are independent, but there’s a lot about Clinton I don’t understand. Like her St. Patrick’s Day scarf.
I’m not worried about the superdelegates, to be honest. Since Super Tuesday, Obama has been winning at least one or two a week, while Clinton is at a net loss (she did pick up four this week, according to MSNBC). He has turned her 100+ lead from at most 30 (according to MSNBC) to at least 12 (according to the NY Times). I don’t think that she has any chance of convincing enough superdelegates to her side unless she wins the popular vote, which would be disappointing but at least it would make the decision somewhat legitimate.
It’s also not likely to happen. Despite her claims to the contrary, the popular vote is not favorable to her. She’s losing by over 700,000 votes. She’s not going to make that up. And that’s if you don’t count the caucus states. And even if you count Florida she’s losing by over 400,000 votes. If you count Florida and Hillary’s Michigan votes, and if you say Obama only gets 85% of the “Uncommitted” votes in Michigan (which is an insanely pro-Hillary assumption), and if you don’t count the votes in the caucus states, Hillary would be losing by 296,261 votes. Not so bad in early February, but this is April and there are only ten contests left (and that’s a lot of “ifs”). She won’t make that up. Her only real hope to win the popular vote is to somehow count Florida and Michigan without a revote, as Obama’s name was not on the Michigan ballot. Either that or win out by unrealistic margins.
But even if Obama wins enough superdelegates to win the nomination, and he will, why should the party of the people, as I think the Democrats are, use such an elitist method to determine the nominee? Doesn’t this play into the Republican’s claims that the Democrats are, in fact, the party of elites? Say what you will about the Republicans, but voters decided to nominate John McCain and even though the party was not particularly fond of the idea, their will was granted. How could Hillary Clinton possibly defend her nomination when McCain asks why, when after thirty million people voted to chose a victor, it ended up being decided by 800 individuals, some of whom don’t even hold an elected office? By saying if you crunch the number just right, she only lost by less than one percent of the popular vote?
How can the party that feels victimized when five individuals overturned the will of the people just eight years ago now overturn the will of the voters for a mere few hundred? Is this irony lost on the Clintons? Or do they just not care? This should not be the party of the Clintons. This should be the party of Al Gore. The Clintons have been embroiled in so much scandal they actually use it as a reason to vote against Obama (“At least you know all the terrible stuff we did!! We can’t even find any real good dirt on Obama! Is that the type of person you want elected??”) Meanwhile, Al Gore wins a Nobel Peace Prize. And yet some would ignore the lessons of Gore and strip the right of their own people to determine the leader of this country for the second time in three election cycles.
The rules are the rules, and it’s too late to change them for this election cycle. But I don’t think anybody can argue that all this talk about the superdelegates this year has been good for the Democrat’s image. Thomas Jefferson once said that a government should “consider the will of the society enounced by the majority of a single vote as sacred as if unanimous.” That definition of a republic does not lend itself well to the final vote being merely a suggestion for a committee of one quarter of one one-thousandth of the total population to follow at their discretion. It’s time for the party created by Thomas Jefferson to elect their President by the criteria he established. Or it’s time to give way to a party that will.
As for me, I will not spit in the eye of the voting public just for the “honor” of four more years of the Clinton/Bush oligarchy.