The Super Delegate System of the Democratic Primary was designed solely to protect the Democratic Party establishment

Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary by a landslide victory and made history by winning the most votes ever in a N.H. primary. Yet, because of the Democratic party’s use of the “super delegates” system, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ended up with the same number of delegates (15-15). With two super delegates still undecided in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton could still win more delegates from N.H. even though she lost the popular vote by a 20% margin.

Delegates are elected by voters to represent a candidate at the Democratic National Convention, where the Democratic nominee will be elected and formally announced. Most of these delegates will be chosen by the people, but the Democratic National Committee sets apart approximately 712 delegates (super delegates) to vote whichever way they want, regardless of the popular vote.

The problem with the super delegate system is it’s elitist nature and willingness to undermine the popular vote. In a recent interview with CNN, DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz explained that the super delegate system exists to protect the party leaders from voting against the Democratic establishment. As Vox explains, the super delegate system was created to give the party leadership more control after a revolt led by Senator Ted Kennedy threatened to undermine the incumbent candidacy of President Jimmy Carter

Much has been said about the role that the super delegates can play in tipping the primary race towards Hillary Clinton. Already, 362 super delegates have given Hilary Clinton an advantage in the primary race. Sanders supporters have started to lobby and petition super delegates to vote according to the results of the popular vote, and not their personal interests.

There is the possibility that if Bernie Sanders were to win more primaries and caucuses, many undecided and pro-Clinton super delegates might defect to Sanders. The same situation happened in the election of 2008, when the victory of Obama among the popular vote had become clear and evident.

Many super delegates are elected officials who stand to lose if they vote against the choice of their constituents. And then you have the factor of the growing mistrust of the progressive base towards the DNC. If the Democratic party nominates a candidate against the choice of the people, “all hell breaking lose” would be a euphemism for a revolt of progressives against the DNC.

But even elected officials in states that favor Sanders, like Vermont Sen. Patrick Lehay, have said that they will support Hillary Clinton. And the biggest concern is that super delegates might vote against the popular will should Bernie Sanders win in a narrow primary race.

There is something elitist and undemocratic about having people with such power decide who the candidate of the Democratic party should be. The Democratic party is the supposed party of progress and the little guy. But it’s undemocratic use of the super delegate system threatens to undermine the values that the Democratic party stands for. Especially when you consider that the grassroots of the Democratic party is turning much more progressive and antagonistic to many of the business interests that some of these super delegates have favored in the past and still work for.

As Lee Fang of The Intercept pointed out in recent tweets, many of the super delegates supporting Clinton are “establishment” politicians who in the past have worked and lobbied for corporate interests. One of them, Jill Alper, even worked with a lobby that worked to undermine the Affordable Care Act. In other words, the same kinds of connections that would pit these super delegates against the interests of Democratic voters in favor of their corporate connections.

I am a Bernie Sanders supporter, but I will vote for Hillary Clinton if she ends up being the Democratic candidate. While I have strong reasons to believe that Clinton’s talk on money in politics is lip service, you can’t say that she is as bad as voting Republican. Either ways, a lot of these issues that Bernie Sanders supporters are voting on cannot take place without a political revolution of the people, not the “messianism” of a leader.

But in the scenario of the super delegates undermining a Sanders victory, even under a narrow margin, I cannot condemn, neither condone, those who would write in Sanders or defect for a third party progressive candidate like Jill Stein. Clinton and #VoteBlue supporters may reasonably cry about people throwing away their vote as immature, and foolish, but they should send that same message to Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her ilk.

The Democratic National Committee has already tilted the race against Bernie Sanders. Other than the super delegate system, much has been said about the lousy debate schedule, not to mention the end of the ban on federal lobbyist contributions towards the DNC. A shame when the American public is heavily in favor of campaign finance reform and the 2016 election has become toxic for anybody with the support of lobbyists.

If the Democratic party wants to hold on to it’s increasingly progressive base, the DNC must do away with the super delegates system, and other rigged factors which threatens to undermine the chances of outsider candidates and the voice of voters.

Doing so would not only give the DNC nominee more validity before Democratic voters, but also in the general elections. In the scenario of a Clinton nomination against the popular vote, I can see Trump or Cruz making the case before the general electorate that Clinton and the Democratic party are corrupt.

Besides, don’t you think it’s ironic the GOP has a more “democratic” primary process?


  1. I’m writing Sanders in if he does not make the primary, as should the rest of those who support Sanders do exactly the same.


  3. I am a lifelong Democrat, nearly 40 years. I am not a Johnny come lately. Like the party my positions have evolved over the years. I study the issues, I listen to arguments on both sides, I weigh the consequences of my position on the lives of people, I vote. However, this smells. My voice (and everyone else) should be heard, by way of our vote. The issues that Bernie speaks about are not just the latest issue of the day, they are “thee issues” of our times. Giving power back to the people. Over turning ‘Citizens United’, getting big money out of politics, climate change, income inequality and a host of other issues. Being timid and maintaining the status quo won’t cut it. The disenfranchised and working class have lost hope in most of our elected officials and Bernie has voters excited. Nothing will change without bold ideas and engagement of the people. A political revolution. Bernie will most likely be marginalized by the DNC, despite what the voters say, which means Hillary will be the nominee. If that is the case, I will hold my nose and vote for her, because anyone is better than what the GOP is offering.

    • As long as we keep saying we will vote for Hillary if Bernie doesn’t win, we are giving Hillary momentum to keep using the system to her favor. Its time to say we will write in Bernie if Hillary is the nominee. We need to stand firm. No wimping out now.

    • Do they not teach this system in school, this super delegate system is very undemocratic? It is actually taking the votes out of the hands of the people. I personally think it is Bullshit. Ireland just had an election and it has been the tightest it has been in 2 decades and if we had superdelgates that would bring backs the power that the majority are against. I can see why the USA is screwed as a democratic nation. No other nation in Europe would ever think of that or there would be large revolts. (Could you image introduction a super delegate to the French political system, the government would have to run)

    • I to have been voting D since 76 but Doug your wrong on one fact, this does smell to high heaven and because of that they are counting on us to fall in line for her. I WILL NOT we are not better then republicans if that is the case. I will write in Bernie or vote for Jill Stein of the Green we must let the DNC know that these tactics will not work event if it means President Trump!

  4. On the superdelegate issue: Let’s say you want to run a race. After you start you notice that even though you think you should be in the lead, someone else is. Maybe there is some rule that gives other people an advantage because they have more experience, or better preparation, or more friends. Is this fair? It depends. But point one, you don’t get in a race when you KNOW the rules and then start bitching about them. Point two, the rules have been around for a long time and Saint Bernard’s campaign manager even helped write them, so don’t give me any bullshit that he didn’t know. Point three, the rules are there for a reason, to give some weight to people who have spent a lot of time in the party over people who might flood in for one particular candidate and therefore have no allegiance to the party or care about it. This is precisely the case here. A candidate who STILL does not have the decency to declare himself to be a Democrat because he despises us, yet we let him run in our party. Floods of people from God knows where who become party members for a day, could give a shit that the Democratic party has been fighting to protect workers rights for 80 years, civil rights for 60 years, women rights for 50 years, and more recently LGBT rights, who threaten to stick us with a one-issue candidate who cannot even come close to doing the job, and is essentially on a kamikazi mission, not a campaign. Fourth, the superdelegates are not just fly-by night people who bought their way into the party last week. They are all elected party officials or Party members elected to Federal of high level state positions. ELECTED BY DEMOCRATS. This is the history of the party, not an “elite”. Some are volunteers who have been doing this work for decades walking precincts, making sure the party was registered properly. The “unsung” work that makes the party a party. Finally, and I could say a lot more, the Democratic Party is a PARTY. It is not a governmental institution. It is a club. As such it has the right to protect itself against being take over by the latest fad that comes along. This is not to say it should never change. On the contrary, the Democratic party has evolved constantly over the last 200 years. 100 years ago it was the party of the KKK. Today it is the party of women’s rights, civil rights, worker rights, and even LBGT rights. Those are the “superdelegates” you are bitchig agout. People like John Lewis, Barbara Boxer, Elizabeth Warren. For a bunch of people who just found out that politics exists yesterday to walk in and say: “Hey, this is not democratic because it does not exactly reflect what I want right now” is bullshit. Stick around and put in some time and you can change it. But you don’t expect an institution to change overnight. Because at the end of the day, without that history, without that tradition, the Democratic Party would not be able to stand and fight, it would ot be able to field candidates, it would be purposeless and would not be even worth taking over.

    • Your lengthy characterization of how hard the Democratic party has been fighting for all the good things you mention fails utterly to come to grips with how spineless the party has been when in the position of opposition party. Or how compromised by big money.

    • I love these Democratic Party loyalists who believe that party fealty and labels are more important than issues. What John fails to mention is that superdelegates are BOUGHT by candidates. In 2008 we have concrete proof that Hillary write 2500$ checks to each and everyone of the approximately 800 superdelegates and then wise ass Obama then went and circled the wagons and wrote them each checks for 10 thousand dollars and like magic over 500 of them switched there vote to him from Hillary. Wisdom of party elders you say? Altruistic? Bullcrap. Rigged garbage. It is unDemocratic behavior and only the worst type of apologist would claim otherwise trying to justify or excuse immoral behavior.
      The entire Democratic Party and DNC is so corrupted by Wall Street, the 1% and corporations that it is BEYOND REPAIR. The party must be dumped, rejected by the American public who should create a party of the people. We have started just a process as part of this political revolution. Come help us.

    • You object to Senator Sanders running for the Democratic nomination? As a Democratic Socialist, an Independent by definition of the 2 party system that dominates our political system, Sen. Sanders has caucused with the Democratic Party, and mostly aligns with them on many decisions. He is also painfully consistent, changes in his opinions are both explained and well documented. Sen. Sanders was involved in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, marching with Dr. King for example.

      The attempt to strip Sen. Sanders of his accomplishments over the years is unbecoming, he is highly respected by many of his peers…regardless of party. I do not agree with all of his ideas, but that is not necessary to support a candidate. This is going to be a long and ugly campaign, please help keep the primary process for us cleaner than the GOP…Super-delegates are not necessary for anything but establishment control and do open a door for possible corruption in the electoral process.

  5. Of course super-delegates are undemocratic. So is the senate, and so is the British House of Lords. We can’t have the people make major decisions. A system controlled by the “winners” resists change, and even if change is necessary the powers that be will resist.

    • If super-delegates are undemocratic, this should be addressed prior to an election not during an election. Based on what do you think ‘winners’ resist taking the actions necessary to make change? Sounds like you want a different kind of governance, because you trust no one. How do you feel about Corporations, do you trust them?

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