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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Considered Appeal For The Abolition Of Superdelegates In The Democratic Primaries

Superman emblem
Courtesy of Sriram Krishnan

This latest article in the American Prospect (thanks, Jon), discusses ongoing Republican assaults on the natural voting rights chartered for this republic. It is a serious problem as it stands, and must be rectified, but if continuing efforts are successful, then meaningful input from the population into the direction and priorities of our government will be lost.

You can't call the cops on the cops. When the checks-and-balances of our government go wobbly (and they clearly have) the only recourse for American citizens is a robust opposition party, and the ability to elect them. Oh, and having a robust opposition party. (This can get a little Oroboros, as the two are necessary for healthy citizen participation in our government.)

Voter manipulation, happily, has a built-in fragility inasmuch as the people being disenfranchised by such shenanigans are likely to get a bit angry and restive in the long run. These people include (at least for now), the "opposition" party - the Democratic Party. As it looks that they are about to ride a tide of popularity into power (none too soon! - and a tide that is likely to swamp Republican voter manipulation, at least this time), one can reasonably imagine that many of these efforts will be swatted back. But that, of course, depends on just how "robust" the "opposition" party is these days.

While I will be thrilled on the day that President Barack Obama is sworn in (and I am banking on the sweet shadenfreude of Election Night in November), let's not kid ourselves. Many Most of the Democratic party and its current crop of candidates, including Obama, are still way too in-the-sway of corporate influence. Howard Dean, Obama and many of the roots candidates across the nation are altering this dynamic with their stunning capture of small-money donations from the people.

This is a positive development. However - the superdelegate model that was injected into Democratic intra-party politicking in the 1970's only serves to weaken the "robustness" of the "opposition." It's very purpose was to put a "governor" in place to modulate the popular influence on the Democratic candidate - ostensibly to preserve Democratic "electibility" - but really, how cynical is that about "small d" democracy?

To the proponents of the superdelegate system (they sure seem to be quiet, BTW - they all just act like the system was signed off on in 1776 or 1787), "robust" equals "radical."

Well, radical is in the eyes of the beholder, and the superdelegate system represents a bunch of folks who are overly-invested in the status quo. We the people are becoming increasingly disturbed at the status quo, and vox populi is becoming more at odds with vox superdelegates - an entirely predictable state-of-affairs as the very creation of the system was intended to temper the public voice.

It is wonderful that the "opposition" party will in all likelihood be victorious come November. Now let's work on making it a more "robust" opposition party.

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