Liberal reformers have already won crucial concessions from DNC officials responsible for leading the party’s overhaul…
(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) Stung by charges that its system was rigged in favor of insiders, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is moving ever closer to downgrading the power of so-called “superdelegates” to future Democratic National Conventions.
Superdelegates are Democratic elected officials – including congressmen, governors, and DNC members – who become delegates to the convention by virtue of their office, without needing to be elected specifically as delegates at presidential primaries.
Comprising about 15 percent of all delegates, these superdelegates are entirely free agents in terms of voting for the party’s nominee, regardless of how home-state residents vote in the primaries.
In 2016, superdelegates overwhelmingly supported pre-primary favorite Hillary Clinton, giving her a large delegate advantage over insurgent, socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders even as Sanders chalked up a series of primary victories. (Among superdelegates from Congress alone, Clinton’s early advantage was 222-9.)
Critics said the superdelegate system puts too much power in the hands of party elites, thus downgrading the wishes of ordinary, grassroots activists and voters.
Supporters say it allows a measure of experienced wisdom to help the party choose its strongest candidate.
In order to respond to grassroots anger at what they call the inordinate power of superdelegates, the DNC is considering a number of different suggestions to modify its system.
The DNC will make a final decision at its August meeting in Chicago.
One proposal, seen as unlikely to prevail, would eliminate the existence of superdelegates altogether.
“The way we’re framing this conversation right now, we’re discussing removing people from the table who actually set the menu,” said former DNC chair Donna Brazile, who opposes that plan. “There’s multiple ways to get at this issue without telling everybody to go to hell. That’s unacceptable.”
Members of Congress also say the plan would force them to run against their own constituents if they want to be delegates, thus (since the congressmen presumably would win) lessening the chance for amateur party activists to participate at conventions.
Other proposals would sharply reduce the number of superdelegates, by as much as two-thirds, while still reserving spots for top elected officials.
Another, backed by DNC Chairman Tom Perez, would keep all or most of the superdelegates, and allow them to vote on any rules or platform issues, but not allow them to vote on the first ballot on the presidential nomination itself.
Only if no candidate gets a majority, forcing a second ballot, would they get to vote for president.
“Such a prospect seems theoretical at best,” wrote Roll Call columnist David Hawkings. “Brokered conventions get predicted all the time, but the Democratic gathering of 1952 was the last to require more than a single ballot.”
Hawkings also noted that, in the end, Mrs. Clinton would have won the nomination anyway, because she earned 55 percent of the primary vote nationwide and 55 percent even of the regular (non-super-) delegates.
Regardless, the suggestions above and other reform proposals must be formally proposed by June 30 in order to be considered at the August meeting.
As reported by the New York Times, “Liberal reformers have already won crucial concessions from DNC officials responsible for leading the party’s overhaul, including higher accountability standards for state parties and likely new rules for state primaries and caucuses aimed at increasing voter participation.”
As is usual for Democrats, however, even the discussions about all of this involve insider negotiations.
As reported by CNN, “Reps. David Price, Gregory Meeks, Rosa DeLauro and Grace Meng — a Democratic National Committee vice chair — met Wednesday with Chairman Tom Perez, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, to discuss the superdelegate proposals required to be passed by the end of the month.”