The only strongly vocal defenders of the undemocratic superdelegate system used every four years at the Democratic National Convention is a majority of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, a group that includes black Democratic members of both houses of Congress. They recently passed a resolution defending the superdelegate system, which grants Members of Congress, Democratic National Committee (DNC) members, and “distinguished party leaders” automatic delegate slots at convention, and grants them the power to vote for any presidential candidate they want at convention:
The letter — which was also sent to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — follows a Wednesday CBC meeting where members discussed for over an hour the impact of eliminating superdelegates on the African-American community, according to CBC Chairman Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.).
“We passed a resolution in our caucus that we would vehemently oppose any change in the superdelegate system because members of the CBC might want to participate in the Democratic convention as delegates but if we would have to run for the delegate slot at the county level or state level or district level, we would be running against our constituents and we’re not going to do that,” said Butterfield. “But we want to participate as delegates and that’s why this superdelegates system was created in the beginning, so members would not have to run against their own constituents.”
A majority of Congressional Black Caucus members are openly on record as saying that they’re afraid of having to actually campaign for a delegate slot at their party’s national convention. If any politician is afraid of competition, he or she shouldn’t be in public office.
One thing that is roughly equivalent to the superdelegate system is the exemptions from qualifying for the U.S. Open, The (British) Open Championship, and most PGA Tour events in golf for most top professional golfers. However, golf is an athletic competition, so exempting the top professional golfers (the U.S. Open and the British Open exempt a few amateur players from qualifying as well) from having to go through one or more qualifying tournaments in order to get into a professional golf tournament is justified. A political party nominating a presidential candidate is not an athletic competition, but something that should reflect the will of the voters who choose to participate in a particular political party’s nomination contest. Due to elections in the United States being governed mostly, but not entirely, by a patchwork of state laws, a national primary election for any particular party’s nominee is virtually impractical, so the next best way would be for a convention of delegates elected by voters who chose to participate in a political party’s nomination process to nominate the presidential candidate. Currently, the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination process consists of a patchwork of delegates elected by Democratic voters and superdelegates who have a fast lane to the convention. There should be no fast lane to a delegate slot at a major-party national convention. Additionally, the Democratic Party has a very diverse primary/caucus electorate from a national standpoint, so a national convention composed of entirely elected delegates should be very diverse.
Former DNC Chairman and pro-Hillary Clinton superdelegate Howard Dean is trying to pour cold water on the idea of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) being the running mate of our party’s presidential nominee, whether the presidential nominee is Clinton or, less likely, Bernie Sanders. In the process, Dean attacked Warren for being too old for whatever fits his description of an ideal presidential candidate:
“Certainly somebody like that would be very helpful,” Dean said about the the Massachusetts senator.
But then he added, “I strongly believe we ought to have somebody under 50 on the ticket. I think the Baby Boomers have run this country for too long. We stepped away from that with (Barack) Obama; we don’t normally go back a generation. We’re gonna have two Baby Boomers running for president on the Democratic and the Republican side. So I would like somebody very much who is not in the Baby Boomer generation. Who is in this new upcoming generation — the younger the better.”
Dean cautioned this wasn’t about Warren herself, “ideologically I think Elizabeth Warren is terrific.” But, he said, there are lots of well-qualified younger options for vice president.
While 2016 is probably going to be the Baby Boomer generation’s last hurrah in a presidential election, Dean’s remarks about Warren are ageist and absurd. In fact, Warren is actually younger (66 years of age) than either Hillary (68 years of age) or Bernie (74 years of age).
Aside from legal qualifications to be Vice President (Natural-born U.S. Citizen, 35 years of age or older, U.S. resident for at least 14 years), there are two important factors that I will use to determine whether or not I could be comfortable with a particular candidate as our party’s vice-presidential nominee:
- Whether or not he or she is prepared to take the presidential oath of office at a moment’s notice
- Whether or not he or she would embarrass the Democratic Party in any way
I prefer the answer to #1 to be “yes” and #2 to be “no” for our party’s vice-presidential nominee. There’s a lot of people who fit that bill, including, but not limited to, Elizabeth Warren. Howard Dean’s real problem with Warren is that he’s an insecure asshole.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has officially endorsed Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination, citing Bernie’s sound foreign policy judgement:
This endorsement is a win-win-win for Bernie. Not only does Bernie receive his fourth congressional endorsement (the other three are Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)), Tulsi is officially a pro-Bernie superdelegate (even though she resigned her DNC post, she is still a U.S. Representative and member of the House Democratic Caucus, so she retains DNC superdelegate status), and Gabbard is a potential Democratic vice-presidential candidate should Bernie win the Democratic nomination (Gabbard will be 35 years of age on the date of the general election, meaning that she would be eligible to run for vice-president this year). Gabbard was born in American Samoa (even though people born in American Samoa are not automatically U.S. citizens, Gabbard’s mother was born in Indiana, so Gabbard is a natural-born U.S. citizen), so Gabbard’s endorsement of Bernie could help Bernie in the American Samoa Democratic territorial caucuses on Super Tuesday.
I would argue that Bernie should go ahead and pick Tulsi as a running mate (although doing so would be conditional on Bernie being nominated by Democrats as the party’s presidential nominee).