Superdelegates are made up of current and former Democratic congressmen, presidents, vice presidents and party elites. These establishment elites are free to vote for whomever they wish at the nominating convention in order to act as a “firewall to blunt any party outsider that built up steam,” according to political scientist Rhodes Cook.
Of the total 4,049 delegates in 2008, 796 of them are superdelegates, which equal 20 percent of the total voting bloc, or 40 percent of the votes a candidate needs to win. Each superdelegate vote is estimated to equal tens of thousands of our pathetically weak votes as ordinary citizens.
After Super Tuesday, numerous delegate calculation discrepancies were reported among various news sources. Many counts showed Clinton leading, such as The New York Times with a count of 905 to 703, CNN with 823 to 741, CBS with 1069 to 1001, and the Associated Press with 1045 to 960. However, NBC showed Obama with a lead of 861 to 855.
Why is there so much tabulation variance? Apparently, the different media sources use different methodologies for interpreting caucus results, but the most problematic element is superdelegate pledges, which NBC ethically chose to exclude. We should appreciate NBC doing this, because including the unelected pledges of superdelegates, especially early in the election, can influence people to vote for the “inevitable” candidate in the “lead.”
For some time, Clinton has led Obama in superdelegate counts at an approximate ratio of 2:1, which continually skews the delegate tallies these candidates actually receive from The People. Some of this disproportional distribution can be attributed to the preexisting political network established under Bill Clinton, which certainly raises troubling questions of fairness.
Although Obama might get more actual votes, Clinton can still be shown as in the lead when superdelegates are included. This is precisely the case when looking at the Democratic Convention Watch website, which shows Obama ahead in elected delegates with 883 to 862, but when Clinton’s disproportionate number of superdelegates is included, she leads with 1065 to 996.
Some political experts predict the delegate counts will remain neck-and-neck until the convention, and superdelegates are very likely to determine the nominee. Does this not profoundly trouble everyone concerned with even superficial democratic procedure?
Reporter Dan Abrams has publicly called for “superdelegates to support the vote of their state or district and effectively disqualify themselves now.” This is a very wise suggestion because should they undemocratically swing the nomination to Clinton, it could create a backlash, especially among engaged grassroots progressives, deeply injuring voter turnout and the party.
To me, superdelegates are like leeches sucking the lifeblood out of a supposedly progressive Democratic party that is supposed to stand for real democracy. Until this blood-sucking parasite is removed, this party is a farce and nominally a lie.
Democracy means “rule by the people,” but superdelegates have the ability to forcefully suck this power away from the people. In pursuit of honesty, the party should discontinue the undermining of this idealistic idea of democracy by fraudulently labeling themselves Democrats. Perhaps, a name change to UnDemocrats would do.
If superdelegates decide the nomination for Clinton as predicted, I am ethically and spiritually compelled to not vote for her. Not only because she will have been undemocratically nominated, but because she stands for neoliberal (corporate power) economics, and a war and military funding regime that unnecessarily waste trillions of dollars. It is a joke to think anyone can fully implement a real progressive agenda for healthcare, energy, jobs, education and the environment while wasting this mountain of money on the interconnected status quo of military colonialism and corporate imperialism.
I am so repulsed by Clinton that I will proudly vote for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader if she wins or steals the nomination. I will not care one iota if my vote is “thrown away” or helps McCain win. Good! McCain and Clinton are both ideologically similar as unprincipled moderate conservatives, with even Republicans Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh now supporting Clinton, so it won’t significantly matter who wins.
Most importantly, I will strongly desire to punish the party for retaining the anti-democratic power of these blood sucking superdelegate leeches.
Abel Tomlinson is a staff writer for The Arkansas Traveler. His column appears every Monday.