Got Hope? Grassroots vs Superdelegates

I’m feeling quite good about the results of today’s caucus and being an Obama alternate for the Legislative Caucus and County Convention. I have not felt so hopeful about national politics in some time, although I can’t entirely shake my cynicism.   A cynicism apparently justified, as it appears the superdelegate system created by Democratic party insiders could hand victory to Clinton, even if Obama has a majority of grassroots delegates.

First, back to the caucus, which I have mixed feelings about as a democratic (and Democratic) system.  While there is now a state primary next Tuesday, in Washington State, only the results of the caucus count as far as the Democrats are concerned.  So, you have to go if you want your vote counted (even if you’re not feeling good, as was the case for me this afternoon). 

The caucus is inherently undemocratic, as it disenfranchises the vast majority of party members who don’t turn out, many more of whom would for a straight forward vote.  Although, one could argue that’s (generally) by choice, with a few exceptions for people who have to work that day, etc.    It is more democratic in bringing people together, and we have a choice in selecting the delegates we send on to vote for us (something I have no idea how they did in Oregon where we voted in a primary); yet most people attending seem, like me, to be slightly resentful of the process and concerned that it leaves so many out.

Did I mention it was very disorganized?  Ah, well, as Will Rogers said, “I belong to no organized party.  I’m a Democrat.”  Still, we managed to wait in long lines to enter (with helpful directions from the Communists tabling outside, while leaflletted by Ron Paul supporters), find our room with the help of volunteers who didn’t seem to know much more than we did, squish into the overcrowded rooms, stand in long lines to sign in, and select, for my precinct, 7 Obama and 1 Clinton delegates, with the equivalent in alternatives.

Personally, I think Obama has stood by his principles more than Clinton has and not been railroaded by the Republicans, and not taken money from lobbyists. 

I’m not particularly nostalgic for a return of the Clintons, beyond the fact Bill was considerably better than the Bushs (especially Dubya).  He still was Republican-light, and I think Hillary is too, for all their confrontationism. Clinton continued with the dismantling of the safety net started in the Reagan/Bush I Era.  A war on welfare instead of a war on poverty.  Continued sanctions on Iraq that caused starvation and disease of children.  Free trade instead of fair trade.  Remember WTO?  Ahh yes, and the tear gas and curfew as they cleared the streets partially due to threats by the Clinton administration Bill wouldn’t come otherwise.  Bill, allegedly the former peace activist, afraid of protesters. 

Are Hillary’s positions any different?  Or will we just be in for 4 – 8 more years of Republican-light, encouraging them to drift yet farther right as they have this time?

I like that Barrack has made fare trade on of his issues, and keeping the internet democratic and open to all without superhighway service to those sites with money and gravel roads for the rest of us.  I like that he’s not taking money from lobbyists.  I like that he’s talking about diplomacy (and troubled that Hillary is blasting him for that).  Yes, we should talk to everyone, even our enemies. 

So, todays results in Washington and elsewhere were overwhelmingly for Obama (even more so in my precinct).  Yet, I read that these “superdelegates” could take it all away if no one already has the majority of the needed delegates from the people. Superdelegates, including elected officials like Governors and Senators, Democratic National Committee insiders, etc. constitute 796 of the delegates, about 15–20%, in a system “intended to restore some of the power over the nomination process to party insiders, tempering the zeal of party activists.”

Barrack is concerned that the superdelegates could throw the nomination to someone who doesn’t have the majority of the people’s delegates.  Hillary defends the system (joking she’ll get back Kennedy and Kerry if it were to go by the will of Massachusetts voters who went for her):

“Superdelegates are, by design, supposed to exercise independent judgment,” she said at a news conference in Maine, according to MSNBC. “But, of course, if Senator Obama and his campaign continue to push this position, which is really contrary to what the definition of a superdelegate has historically been, I will look forward to receiving the support of Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry.”

Well, why should a group of party insiders, whoever they are for, have more say than the people’s elected delegates?  The whole system is set up to circumvent the will of the people, with the whole idea that party insiders know best.

I hope someone thought to propose a resolution today to do away with the superdelegate system (and wish I had thought of it).

It’s not in the party’s best interest to get Hillary as their nominee, at all costs.  Barrack has brought an amazing number of people into the party, from groups including young people, minorities and people usually disillusioned by the system.  People and energy they stand to lose if they use superdelegates to take away the popular vote, for even if they hold their nose and vote Democrat in November, they certainly won’t be out organizing and campaigning. 



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