It's a strange feeling, but I find myself feeling sorry for the Democrats. They have chosen two clowns as the top contenders for the Democrat party's presidential nomination. But now that the cracks are showing beneath the clown makeup, they are becoming desperate. As they near their convention, a deeply divided party wonders whether a handful of political hacks and party bosses will disenfranchise Democrat voters and decide who will be the top clown on the Democrat ticket. And most Democrats are furious with DNC Dictator Howard Dean and the Democrat elite who will decide whether their votes will count.
I recently spoke by phone to a lady in Miami on a business matter. The subject of the presidential election came up, and she volunteered that she was a life-long Democrat. "But I am so ashamed of my party that I am going to vote for McCain."
What problems do the Democrats have that are so serious that a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat would decide to vote for a Republican? There are too many to discuss in one column, so we will focus on the most serious: the Super Delegates."
A brief history of the system is in order here. In the early 1980's the Democrat party bosses believed that earlier reforms to the delegate selection process had diminished the role of party leaders and elected officials. So in 1982 a commission headed by former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt created the Super Delegate system. Hunt originally wanted 30% of the delegates to be Super Delegates! But when the plan was implemented in 1984, they were 14%. Since then the percentage increased steadily, until today they are twenty percent of all delegates.
In the 1984 election, the Democrat front runners for the Presidential nomination were Walter Mondale and Gary Hart. Each had won their share of primaries and caucuses, and both had almost the same number of delegates. Mondale had a slight lead, but neither had enough delegates to win the nomination. (That will likely be the case when Hillary and Obama get to the convention.) Not surprisingly, Mondale, the establishment candidate, had the votes of the Super Delegates and he became the Democrat nominee.
Most Democrats were unaware of the dirty backroom politics that the Democrat Super Delegate system represents until this election pushed it into the limelight. Understandably the party bosses haven't publicized the system, because it makes it possible for them to overturn the votes of Democrat voters.
The Democrats are always the first to cry that "every vote must count." They fought hard for the "rights" of convicted felons in Florida (who have no right to vote, according to State law) to vote in presidential elections -- because criminals tend to vote Democrat. They have a long history (particularly in Obama's home state) of allowing dead people to vote (but only if they are Democrats). And when Al Gore got a few more popular votes than Bush, they ignored the electoral process prescribed by the Constitution and sued to have Al Gore declared president by the courts. (If Gore had gotten the most electoral votes and Bush had received a majority of the popular vote, you can be sure this issue would never have been raised, because Republicans respect the Constitution.)
Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution states, in part: "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows: Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors ..." Take a few minutes to read this whole section by clicking the "Constitution" button on www.ConservativeTruth.org. You won't find any mention of using the popular vote if one party doesn't like the results of an election.
In view of this many Democrats today are finding it hard to swallow the fact that the votes of unelected Super Delegates will almost certainly decide the Democrat nominee, regardless of how the elected delegates vote. Apparently with the Democrats every vote counts; but the votes of some count more than others. There are only 794 of these privileged people, and they amount to less than 20% of the total number of Democrat delegates. But with the Democrat Party the minority rules, for the appointed Super Delegates are allowed by Party rules to overturn the vote of the elected delegates.
The elected delegates are mostly regular people elected by their peers in various ways depending on the customs of their state. These are the people described in the Constitution as "electors," citizens who represent the will of the people of their state in the Electoral College.
Then who are these Super Delegates? They are not "electors" as laid out in the Constitution. They were invented by the Democrat establishment to keep the "lower class" Democrats in line. They are certainly not people that most Americans would describe as "Super." As a group they can best be described as political hacks. Many are people who would never be chosen as delegates by the voters they supposedly represent. And they are not obligated to vote in the way the majority of the people in their state voted. In fact, many of them declare which candidate they will support before their state even votes. This has the effect of unduly influencing the choice of nominees.
Super Delegates include former Democrat politicians and politicians still in office, Democrat governors, and members of the Democrat National Committee and the various state Committees. As Ex-President, even Bill Clinton gets to vote as a Super Delegate (presumably for Hillary).
In April of 2007 MSNBC.com published an article (see LINK below) that criticized the Democrat Super Delegate system. It began with these words: "It's called the Democratic Party, but one aspect of the party's nominating process is at odds with grass-roots democracy."
At the end the article author Tom Curry speculated about a scenario in which the nomination could still be in doubt at the end of the primary season. He ridiculed the thought that "party heavyweights would line up votes at the convention to swing the nomination to one of the contenders, or to a dark horse." Almost a year later, it seems that Mr. Curry was wrong. This has become a very likely scenario.
The Democrat establishment has alienated some of its most vocal activists. The radical leftist group MoveOn.org was established to support the Clintons when Bill got caught with his pants down and was impeached. Today it has apparently shifted its allegiance to the even more liberal Obama. It recently ran a full-page ad in USA Today, begging Super Delegates not to publicly endorse any candidate and to let the elected delegates determine who the candidate will be. Donna Brazile (Al Gore's former campaign manager) says she will resign from the Democratic National Committee if the Super Delegates contradict the choice of the elected delegates.
The far left New England Phoenix published an article (see LINK below) showing how Rhode Island's Super Delegates could negate the will of Rhode Island votes. The article demonstrated how, in this one state, Obama (who has the majority of the elected delegates) could be bested by Hillary because she has more Super Delegates. On a larger scale, this could happen in the national contest.
To make things even more confusing, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has stated that the common perception that delegates are required to vote for the candidate they pledged to elect a "myth." In a recent memo the DNC declared, "Delegates are NOT bound to vote for the candidate they are pledged to at the convention or on the first ballot. A delegate goes to the convention with a signed pledge of support for a particular presidential candidate. At the convention, while it is assumed that the delegate will cast their vote for the candidate they are publicly pledged to, it is not required."
Let me see if I have this right. "A delegate goes to the convention with a signed pledge of support for a particular presidential candidate." Then they can just say, "I lied!" and vote for whomever they wish. Well, I guess that fits in with the whole immoral Super Delegate concept. No wonder Democrats are furious with their "leaders."
Adding fuel to the fire of this incredible circus is the first black governor of Virginia and current mayor of Richmond, L. Douglas Wilder. Recently on "Face the Nation" (see LINK below) he predicted -- and seemed to be actually calling for -- riots in the streets if the Clinton campaign were to overturn an Obama lead through the use of Super Delegates. Here are his exact words: "If the Super Delegates intervene and get in the way of it, and say, "Oh, no, we're going to determine what's best,' there will be chaos at the convention...And if you think 1968 was bad, you watch: 2008 will be worse."
The Chicago Riots surrounding the Democrat Convention in 1968 (see LINK below) were started by Democrat "Peaceniks." It took almost 30,000 police officers, Army troops, National Guardsmen and Secret Service Agents to control the "Peace" protesters. 119 policemen and 100 protesters were injured in the several days of rioting.
I think it is incredibly irresponsible for a Democrat mayor, and particularly a black mayor, to be seen as calling for riots and threatening that they will be worse than the riots in 1968. He didn't explicitly encourage people to riot. But Wilder is considered to be a role model to young black men. Given our nation's history with terrible riots over perceived injustices, for this politician to threaten the nation with worse riots than the 1968 Democratic Convention Riots borders on the criminal. In his own words, "2008 will be worse."
The Democrats need to get their act together, if not for the sake of their floundering Party, then for the sake of the nation. The last thing we need is rioting in the streets caused by politicians who can't control their lust for power.
Dr. Tom Barrett has been an ordained minister for 30 years. He has written for local and national publications for most of his life, and has authored several non-fiction books. He has been interviewed on many TV and radio programs, and speaks at seminars nationwide. Tom is the editor and publisher of Conservative Truth, an email newsletter read by over fifty thousand weekly which focuses on moral and political issues from a Biblical viewpoint.