February 13, 2008
A Super Delicate Super Delegate Dilemma
First-rate as it is, our one-man one-vote system can't promise majority contentment in every election. You needn't reflect back any further than the 2000 Presidential race to evoke the unpleasantness, racial and otherwise, ignited by a popular vote denied its mandate. But the divisions cleaved by Gore v. Bush would surely pale by comparison should the mainstream approved candidacy of the first black man in history be reversed by a small group of party elites.
After all, we live in a society with the virtues of majority rule engrained in its very soul. It drives our politics. It drives our laws. It even drives various social decisions. When it works, it satisfies our sense of fair play and inclusion. When it fails, whether by irregularities -- real or imagined -- or little understood technicalities, it sparks in us a sense of outrage.
Consider that absent the sense of entitlement imparted to Al Gore by his half-million plus vote popular majority, the Florida debacle might well have amounted to little more than a few days' whining. Instead, we were treated to nonstop recounts, court battles (escalating all the way up to the US Supreme) and more recounts. Not to mention endless allegations of fraud and breaches of every law from the Voting Rights Act to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The resulting suspicions were further aggravated by "disenfranchisement" charges of disproportionate minority vote-spoiling, racially biased voter exclusion lists, and even black-vote-inhibiting police roadblocks.
The deep divide this country now experiences is certainly rooted to a great extent in the distrust fomented by the extraordinary 2000 post-election battle. Many still harbor unresolved resentments, some believing their vote was somehow "stolen." More to the point -- some accept the hype that as many as one in seven black votes were discounted in Florida.
It was with this racially charged atmosphere in mind that we recently explored the potential fallout of an Obama general election defeat. It appeared then that the nation would be better served by an Obama loss to Clinton sooner than to a Republican later.
But recent events necessitate a proviso to that opinion.
Able to bend nominations with their bare hands
Due to a peculiar provision in DNC party plumbing, the winner of the majority of states' delegates is not guaranteed the nomination. There exists a group of party-loyal, non-pledged delegates who may cast a vote for any nominee at the 2008 Convention, not necessarily the candidate who won their state. These 796 "Super Delegates" include Democrat "insiders" such as congressmen, senators, governors, former Dem leaders and other DNC members, many of whom have aleady committed to a candidate.
This time out, many party leaders are concerned, including Howard Dean. Given the tightness of the race and, likely, its inevitable yet unprecedented racial or gender disappointment, the Democratic National Committee Chair fears a "big fight at the convention" should no clear nominee arise by April.
Furthermore, one of the super delegates, Democratic strategist and former Al Gore campaign advisor Donna Brazile, is herself expressing worries that old loyalties and preconceptions might supersede the will of the people:
"With Super Tuesday turning out a draw -- Obama won more states, but Clinton won more delegates -- the superdelegate vote has taken on a practical weight. In previous elections, these votes merely affirmed what had already been determined by the primaries. This year, however, could be for superdelegates what 2000 was for the Electoral College: a chance to decide the presidency. Is that what voters want?"
Good question -- especially recalling how many Democrats had shouted for the immediate demise of the antediluvian and "unfair" Electoral College system. As an exclamation point, Brazile has threatened to quit the DNC should the nomination be decided by her fellow SDs, and repeated that pledge on Sunday's This Week program after further explaining her reasoning to the show's host:
"George, my fear is that the Super Delegates will make this decision before the voters in key states to come will decide. I think that there's time. 1,133 delegates outstanding as of last night. There's still time for the pledged delegates to somehow or another sort this out so Super Delegates will not have to make this decision. Look, we don't wear capes. We can't hear the sound of a pin drop miles away. We don't drive bat mobiles. And no one wants to see us in spandex. We should represent the will of the voters of this country and we should not stop this contest prematurely in order to rush the decision."
As to the candidates, well, they're split on the subject.
Obama, whose 139 SD count currently trails Clinton's 213, agrees with Brazile, telling ABC News last week that:
"If this contest comes down to super delegates, we are going to be able to say we have more pledged delegates, which means the Democratic voters have spoken. Those super delegates, those party insiders would have to think long and hard how they would approach the nomination."
Not surprisingly, current SD leader Hillary sees things differently:
"Superdelegates are by design supposed to exercise independent judgment, that is the way the system works. If Sen. Obama and his campaign continue to push this position which is really contrary to what the definition of a super delegate has historically been then I look forward to receiving the support of Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Kerry."
But the NY Senator, given her proclaimed deep affinity for the plight of minorities in America, should know better.
A Delegate Imbalance
Suppose, for a moment, that the race between Clinton and Obama remains as closely undecided as it is today beyond June or perhaps into the August convention. Even should Obama's February surge continue, Clinton March and April victories in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania or a DNC capitulation on Florida's delegate penalty could once again tighten the race. Now suppose Obama lands in Denver with a 50 to 100 delegate lead but is nonetheless relegated to second place by virtue of the SD's.
Imagine trying to resolve the feelings of absolute abandonment and ensuing rage in a minority voting block whose candidate had for the first time ever won a majority of delegates, only to have all hope dashed by a bunch of mostly old white guys. Particularly having been all but assured by Hollywood's elite and the MSM that their turn, if not their Messiah, had at long last arrived.
Of course, bad-blood would flow were the situation reversed - but not nearly as bad and not onto the streets. For I suspect that, given past examples of their outrage, the ever-wise Ms. Brazile's concerns extend well beyond her peoples' discontent.
Besides - what if Obama's lead of pledged delegates ultimately did prove indomitable? How might a candidate who claims to have met Martin Luther King as a young girl, fought her husband's attempt to reform affirmative action and worked to facilitate school desegregation in the South, ever hope to maintain her civil rights credibility after leveraging her preponderance of non-representative SD's to unseat a majority elected African-American?
While it's sweetly ironic that the party of pandering and continual submission to racial coercion would now find themselves victims of the fetid system of their own design, is anyone truly prepared for irreconcilable crowds roaming the streets chanting "No Nomination, No Peace?"
Or to witness the racial ambulance chasers whose relevance even an Obama candidacy may well relegate to the dust bin of history, instead, be empowered by his unjustifiable rejection?
Should the situation arise, it will be fascinating to see just how the would-be candidate handles the delicate balance between national and her own personal interests. Both of which would surely be compromised to some degree by alienating no less than 13 percent of the population, anyway.
Most fascinating, indeed.
Marc Sheppard is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.