Stop looking for kryptonite, by Doug Thompson

Super-delegates might pick the Democratic presidential nominee! Oh, the horror! Whatever shall we do!
Well, how about lightening up? These “super-delegates” are mostly Democratic elected officials, party officers and some retirees.
But the will of the people might be thwarted! Gasp!
The will of the people has already been thwarted. A combination of party rules and “me first” greed threw the will of the people out before these primaries began.
Millions of Democratic voters in Michigan and Florida are locked out of the delegate race. Both states moved up their primaries in violation of party rules. Therefore, Democrats leaders decided none of the delegates for those two states would be seated at the nominating convention.
Roughly one out of every seven Democratic delegates is shut out.
Nobody running can plausibly claim to be the people’s choice unless he — or she — wins the nomination by such a wide margin, Michigan or Florida would not have made a difference.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is quite a margin. It could happen, but Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign efforts in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania would have to collapse.
Situations like this are exactly what super-delegates are for.
I’m totally opposed to seating the Michigan and Florida delegates, something Clinton herself has asked for. Those states’ “rump” elections were not fair contests. Clinton probably — not certainly, but probably — would have won a fair contest in those states anyway, but that’s spilt milk.
Sen. Barack Obama has overtaken Clinton in delegates won in caucuses and primaries. However, plenty of super-delegates back Clinton. Obama is complaining that those super-delegates should support the candidate with the most popular votes.
The inspirational new candidate — the one who wants change rather than the same old politics — is openly calling on super-delegates to break their word.
Here’s a suggestion, Democrats: Play by your rules, the rules you agreed on long before this started. Obama knew Clinton would have a super-delegate edge when he began. Clinton recruited those super-delegates for the particular purpose of scaring off opponents. The rules creating super-delegates were passed when I was in grade school. Nobody has a right to be surprised here.
You created super-delegates, Democrats. Stop looking for kryptonite.
Obama has the momentum. If Clinton can’t stop him with convincing wins in Texas and Ohio, this race is over. Clinton might have some super-delegate commitments, but they are not going to hang with a contender who’s obviously crippled.
If Clinton wins Texas and Ohio, and maybe Pennsylvania, there won’t be a problem, either.
And what if the margin is very, very thin?
Then the judgment of the super-delegates should be trusted.
And if you don’t like the rules, change them — for the next presidential race. Just be aware that you’re chasing your tail.
The role of party establishment types — elected officials, former party chairmen and so forth — was cut down significantly after the 1968 convention. The result was the nomination of George McGovern, who was trounced in one of the most humiliating presidential routs in history — by Richard Nixon.
Super-delegates got more of a role back, but not enough to interfere with the nomination of Jimmy Carter — who served only one term in what should have been a post-Watergate period of dominance. This led directly to the election of Ronald Reagan.
At the risk of appearing non-Democratic (pardon the pun), let me recount a little history here. Let’s start after Franklin D. Roosevelt, who won four straight elections in a streak that’s now constitutionally banned.
What would now be called Democratic “super-delegates” picked winners in 1948, 1960 — Kennedy, no less — and 1964. In short, they won every election when Dwight D. Eisenhower wasn’t running.
The new, “fair” and “open” nominating system picked a winner in 1976 — Carter — in a year that practically any Democrat could have won. It picked losers in 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1988. Significantly, the only winner picked under this process has picked was in 1992, when nobody thought the Democrats could possibly win. The first President Bush attained 80 percent approval ratings. Bill Clinton took the nomination, literally, while no one cared.
There’s an argument to be made for letting super-delegates pick the nominee every time. Every time the Democrats think they have a chance, they blow it.

Categories: Legacy Archive