Thursday, March 13, 2008

Whining about super delegates deciding between Clintion and Obama

When the Democratic National Convention meets in Denver this Summer to choose a nominee for the Presidential race, there will be three different kinds of delegates. There will be those chosen by state conventions on the basis of primary votes, there will be those chosen by state conventions based on caucuses, and there will be the party officials who are sent as what are called "super delegates."

The delegates, once there, will each have equal influence in their state delegations. None are more powerful than others according to the rules. So what can we expect from each kind of delegate? Look at their source.

The delegates selected based on primary votes represent those people who, for the most part, do not bother with politics until the media start announcing an upcoming election. The actual delegates are selected by the state conventions, so they are to some extent active in the party or they are friends of someone who is active in the party. They will in general be the least committed to the Democratic Party.

Those selected by the caucus process generally have political axes to grind. They want something from the party, not just a trip to Denver, and they were willing to spend time and effort to participate. They will tend to be much more committed to the Democratic Party itself, and perhaps to the candidate they were selected to be a delegate for.

The Super delegates are the most committed and experienced Democrats. They will be less influenced by whether some candidate represents a person like them, and a lot more influenced by whether a candidate can win the election, and upon winning, whether that candidate has coattails that other Democrats running down-ballot can expect help from.

According to The Hill the super delegates are beginning to look at Obama as the more likely of the two remaining candidates to have long coattails.

For people who whine that the candidate should not be selected by the super delegates, that's silly. The Democratic Party has two candidates remaining, either of whom is vastly superior to the presumptive Republican candidate McCain (who, himself, was the best of the Republican choices.) If the final choice between the nearly equally matched Obama and Clinton cannot be decided by the delegates selected through caucus and primary process, then it is quite appropriate for the super delegates to make the final decision based on which of the two will better build the Democratic Party for the future.

One of Jimmy Carter's great failings was that he had few coattails when elected in 1976, and then he disdained building the Democratic Party while in office. This was a time when the conservatives were working to build the Republican party, and gave us the disasters of Ronald Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43.

The Democrats have two excellent candidates for President and must choose only one this year. That's frankly not an easy decision, as the series of close primaries and caucuses have shown. If the primary voters and caucus attendees can't resolve the issue and the tie-breaking decisions come down to which of the two is better for the Party, then we all win. Except, of course, the second choice for the Presidential nominee. The Democrats are going to come out of Denver in better shape than they went in.

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