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Let’s Reduce Superdelegate Power in the Democratic Party–And Learn Our History Properly

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The whining by Democratic superdelegates about having their power reduced is pathetic. The call to reduce superdelegate power makes all the sense in the world. There’s no reason the path to the Democratic nomination shouldn’t be as democratic and open to scrutiny as possible. While there was no real chance that superdelegates would overturn the rule of the voters if Bernie Sanders had won the nomination, there was enough grumbling from the centrist establishment that the left had a good reason to be suspicious. Moreover, other than rewarding party power players and big donors, what do superdelegates add? Nothing useful. Of course, this is being pushed by Bernie supporters, but with Tom Perez’s support and it will almost certainly be enacted. However, I do think the Democrats should move to fix the other problems in the nomination process–particularly ending caucuses and open primaries, both of which also have undemocratic aspects to them, especially the former, which prioritizes educated wealthy whites with the time to spend 5 hours in a meeting over working class people of color who do not have that luxury.

The superdelegates themselves are all in a huff about this, leading some to say stupid things about the past.

But even if the superdelegates fall short in their opposition, controversy surrounding the issue threatens to once again focus national attention on Democratic Party feuding at the height of this year’s midterm elections.

Invoking unrest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Mulholland said, “Unfortunately, while the Republicans are winning elections and taking over the Supreme Court, we’ll be in Chicago looking like 1968.”

Yeah, see, that’s not what happened in 1968. What happened in 1968 is that the entrenched leadership of the Democratic Party–Richard Daley, George Meany, etc–had too much power. In fact, they had nearly all the power, which was why it wasn’t even necessary to run in all the primaries to win the nomination. 1968 was a civil war in the Democratic Party, yes, but it was a civil war because the ancestors of these superdelegates were determined to fight to the end for total control over the party, damned hippie anti-war protestors could go to hell. In fact, Meany’s infamous refusal to endorse McGovern in 1972 was very much related to his resentment over the AFL-CIO’s reduced role in the Democratic Party after the post-68 reforms. With the hippies in charge and therefore taking an anti-war position, Meany was going to take his toys and go home.

I would perhaps be more sympathetic to the superdelegates if they knew the basic history of the recent Democratic Party.

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