Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about the Democrats’ summer meeting next week in Chicago. It seems that not everyone is happy with the role the superdelegates played in the 2016 Democrat primary election.
The article reports:
The battle is over a proposal that would reduce the power of superdelegates ahead of 2020. Superdelegates are Democratic leaders who are able to vote for their preferred candidate at the convention, even if that candidate lost the primary or caucus in the delegate’s state.
Subcommittees within the larger Democratic National Committee have advanced the measure over the last year, tweaking it along the way to go even further than previously recommended. The current proposal has the support of both delegates who supported Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in 2016.
…The original proposal was drafted by the Unity Reform Commission, created in the aftermath of the 2016 election to unite the Sanders and Clinton delegates who came to blows during the primary. The commission also proposed measure to provide DNC budget transparency and crack down on conflicts of interest, but those measures have been pushed to the side.
The meeting next week is expected to be contentious as an opposition wing has formed against the superdelegates measure. In the final days, members have been whipping each other to rally behind weakening the influence of superdelegates.
Reforming parts of the nominating process have been critical ahead of 2020 to heal divisions among factions of the party. Democrats expect a large number of candidates to jump into the 2020 contest, and are hoping that changes to the nominating process will prevent another gruesome primary.
The following is from Wikipedia:
The rules implemented by the McGovern-Fraser Commission shifted the balance of power to primary elections and caucuses, mandating that all delegates be chosen via mechanisms open to all party members. As a result of this change the number of primaries more than doubled over the next three presidential election cycles, from 17 in 1968 to 35 in 1980. Despite the radically increased level of primary participation, with 32 million voters taking part in the selection process by 1980, the Democrats proved largely unsuccessful at the ballot box, with the 1972 presidential campaign of McGovern and the 1980 re-election campaign of Jimmy Carter resulting in landslide defeats. Democratic Party affiliation skidded from 41 percent of the electorate at the time of the McGovern-Fraser Commission report to just 31 percent in the aftermath of the 1980 electoral debacle.
Further soul-searching took place among party leaders, who argued that the pendulum had swung too far in the direction of primary elections over insider decision-making, with one May 1981 California white paper declaring that the Democratic Party had “lost its leadership, collective vision and ties with the past,” resulting in the nomination of unelectable candidates. A new 70-member commission headed by Governor of North Carolina Jim Hunt was appointed to further refine the Democratic Party’s nomination process, attempting to balance the wishes of rank-and-file Democrats with the collective wisdom of party leaders and to thereby avoid the nomination of insurgent candidates exemplified by the liberal McGovern or the anti-Washington conservative Carter and lessening the potential influence of single-issue politics in the selection process.
Following a series of meetings held from August 1981 to February 1982, the Hunt Commission issued a report which recommended the set aside of unelected and unpledged delegate slots for Democratic members of Congress and for state party chairs and vice chairs (so-called “superdelegates”). With the original Hunt plan, superdelegates were to represent 30% of all delegates to the national convention, but when it was finally implemented by the Democratic National Committee for the 1984 election, the number of superdelegates was set at 14%. Over time this percentage has gradually increased, until by 2008 the percentage stood at approximately 20% of total delegates to the Democratic Party nominating convention.
The superdelegates were put in place to prevent the Democrats from nominating a candidate too far out of the mainstream (as exemplified by George McGovern). (For an interesting article on George McGovern and what he learned when he opened a bed and breakfast in Connecticut, click here). Let’s be honest–the establishment of both parties likes to be in control. Superdelegates help maintain that control. Unfortunately the superdelegates for the Democrats in 2016 worked against their success–Hillary Clinton was simply not a popular candidate, and she also had the right-direction, wrong-track poll working against her (here).
It will be interesting to see what the outcome of this convention is. I don’t expect the mainstream media to report it, but I will go looking for it.