Monday, February 11, 2008

Superdelegates: A Cause for Concern?

I thought I was very attentive to things having to do with elections, but why is it this year I feel like I am just hearing about the Democratic “Superdelegate”? They’ve been around since 1980, put in place to recognize the input of party leaders and key party officials for the party Presidential primary.

Maybe it never mattered to be because we haven’t had a Democratic primary that hasn’t really seemed to be a close race until recently.

Wikipedia explains that “Superdelegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention include all Democratic members of the United States Congress, Democratic governors, various additional elected officials, members of the Democratic National Committee, as well as "all former Democratic Presidents, all former Democratic Vice Presidents, all former Democratic Leaders of the U.S. Senate, all former Democratic Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Minority Leaders, as applicable, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee." There is an exception, however, for otherwise qualified individuals who endorse another party’s candidate for President; they lose their superdelegate status….The 2008 Democratic National Convention will have approximately 796 superdelegates….”

Wow. That’s a lot of “bonus” votes, which in my opinion can have a huge impact on who gets to run for President for the Democratic Party.

What really scares me is seeing the name Dennis Kucinich on the list of Ohio Superdelegates. After all, he is a congressman (well, maybe not for long if his opponent dethrones him in the upcoming election) so I suppose he qualifies as a Superdelegate. But, Dennis overstayed his welcome in his own bid for President, and frankly I’m not sure I have any confidence that he can be objective in representing what’s best for the party. And there are several others that make me feel the same way.

Even more frightening is that once the people have spoken in their respective state primaries, these Superdelegates can still vote however they want in order to chose the party’s candidate. As they are considered unpledged delegates, unlike delegates pledged by the vote of the people in the primaries, these delegates don’t have to follow any one’s opinions but their own.

I’ve already written about my discomfort with the Electoral College. The “Superdelegate” issue makes me even more concerned that the people are not the ones who really have the power to elect their own President.

How did this happen? How did we get so far away from the people themselves being able to choose? I sense that since this Democratic primary is going to be so close that the Superdelegates will be choosing who will represent the Democratic party, and however they go, there will be a huge block of people that will be very unhappy with the choice. Maybe this is the only fair way to broker a virtual tiebreaker. It does concern me that there have been reports that the presidential candidates are already lobbying the Superdelegates in order to gain their pledge. I can only imagine the political wheeling and dealing going on.

I’m still going to the polls, and voting for whom I think is the best candidate. I would like my candidate to go all the way, of course, but I won’t be crazed if he or she doesn’t. Still, I find myself wondering again if there isn’t a better way for the peoples’ voices to be heard, and the winners to be a real reflection of the popular votes. I suppose all we can do is…wait and see!

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