The race to become the presidential nominee for the Democratic Primary is becoming more intriguing than a John Grisham novel. The battle between Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama is dominating the news headlines and is setting the stage for what could be the biggest travesty in political history since Bill Clinton was re-elected president in 1996.
After last night’s impressive primary wins, Obama, is currently leading in delegates but the two candidates are still running neck and neck and neither may end up with the number of delegates needed to become the definitive Democratic nominee. Which means that the almighty powerful “super delegates” may single handedly anoint the nominee, and the person selected may not necessarily have the largest number of states won or the majority of overall delegates at the convention. This will be the largest disenfranchisement of voters not seen in American history.
After the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the Democratic Party implemented changes in its delegate selection process, based on the work of the McGovern-Fraser Commission. The purpose of the changes was to make 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.
These comprehensive changes left some Democrats believing that the role of party leaders and elected officials had been unduly diminished, weakening the Democratic ticket. In response, the super delegate rule was instituted after the 1980 election. Its purpose was to accord a greater role to active politicians.
In the 1984 election, the major contenders for the Presidential nomination were Gary Hart and Walter Mondale. Each of them won some primaries and caucuses. Hart was only slightly behind Mondale in the total number of votes cast, but Mondale won the support of almost all the super delegates and became the nominee.
The super delegates have not always prevailed, however. In the Democratic primary phase of the 2004 election, Howard Dean acquired an early lead in delegate counts by obtaining the support of a number of super delegates before even the first primaries were held. Nevertheless, John Kerry defeated Dean in a succession of primaries and caucuses and won the nomination.
Rightfully, the Democratic Party has been criticized for conducting its nominating process in an undemocratic way because super delegates are generally chosen without regard to their preferences in the presidential race and are not obligated to support the candidate chosen by the voters. It is clear that the Democrat elite feel that the “ordinary” Democratic Party voter can’t be trusted with the decision on who should be presidential nominee. As usual, they believe that the public is best served through back room deals, political favors, and oligarchy rule. If the Clinton machine is able to take a strangle hold on the super delegates it will most certainly leave the democratic party in shambles and may ultimately cause them to lose the general election. I for one am keeping my fingers crossed.
There have been repeated calls to eliminate the super delegates from the nomination process to more accurately reflect the popular vote, including an online petition. You can sign the petition by visiting nosuperdelegates.org