Friday, March 28, 2008

Superdelegates

Bolshevik guerilla groups such as MoveOn.ORG and other fans of a particular presidential candidate are trying to intimidate the whole Democratic Party into disregarding its own rules.

In 1982, a commission chaired by North Carolina governor Jim Hunt analyzed the reasons behind humiliating losses of McGovern against Nixon (1972) and Carter against Reagan (1980) and they determined that an important reason was that the party leaders who actually have some political skills have lost the influence over the Democratic Party.

Hunt et al. invented the superdelegates. Their intended share was 30%, the figure dropped to 14% instantly, but grew to roughly 20% today.

One could probably live without these rules but there certainly exists a rational justification of these new rules: without such an explicit influence of the party officials, the whole primaries reduce to a new round of general elections. The party would effectively disappear. More importantly, they are the current rules of the game. A certain fraction of the delegates are unpledged and they vote independently of the popular vote.

I find it kind of amazing that so many people are ready to question these rules in the middle of the game - just because they suddenly find superdelegates inconvenient. When rules are ignored but no one is hurt, one can sometimes understand such a careless approach. But that's certainly not the case right now.

If the Democratic Party thought that the superdelegates were such a bad policy, they should have abolished them - for example, after 2000, when the Democratic nutjobs promoted the popular vote into a holy principle by ad hoc and ridiculous claims that their Gore should have won the 2000 elections that he lost. But they didn't abolish them which makes a difference.

I have no idea how they want to justify such a position and I have no clue how they actually want to guarantee that the rules will be pissed upon because it is not such a trivial thing to do something that blatantly contradicts their own law. Will they blackmail or assassinate the superdelegates? What they want to do is nothing less than a coup or a new October Revolution.

Needless to say, the potential inability of the Democratic Party to obey its own rules will eventually lead to a backlash. Sponsors might be lost and the 2008 Democratic nominee may easily repeat the fate of McGovern and Carter in the general elections.

And that's the memo.

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