Thursday, February 11, 2016

Outsiders Don't Get To Make The Democratic Party Rules

The latest complaint from Bernie Sanders supporters is that the rules of the Democratic Party are unfair to their candidate. The unfairness they speak of is the party rule that gives some party officials (like elected officials) an automatic delegate vote at the nominating convention -- the so-called "super delegates".

In 2016, there will be 4,764 convention delegates. Of that number, about 713 are super delegates. The rest will be chosen in the primaries and caucuses.

This same system was in place for the 2008 nominating process -- and no one complained about it. Barack Obama won the majority of primary/caucus delegates and the majority of super delegates, and won the nomination. The system worked just as it was supposed to work.

So, what is different about 2016? Well, after Bernie tied Hillary in Iowa, and beat her in New Hampshire, the delegate total stands at 394 for Clinton and 44 for Sanders. That's because about 362 super delegates have pledged their support for the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. That leaves about 351 unplugged super delegates. Sanders could prove he deserves a big share of those by winning a majority of primary/caucus delegates. But his supporters know they are not likely to do that, so whining about the rules is the path chosen.

Why have more than half of the super delegates decided to support Hillary Clinton? It's not secret, and it's not a "conspiracy" either. They support the candidate who has been a good Democrat for 47 years -- working hard to support the party and its elected officials. Clinton has earned their support.

Why wouldn't they support Bernie, who is as progressive as Hillary? It could well be because Sanders is NOT a Democrat. For 73 years, he avoided the Democratic label like the plague. He has turned down Democratic Party nominations, and made it clear that he is not a Democrat (even though he caucuses with Democrats in the Senate). And while he is now using the Democratic Party apparatus to run for president, he still refuses to simply say "I am a Democrat". Why should long-time Democrats (as almost all super delegates are) support any candidate too ashamed to wear the Democratic Party label?

The Democratic Party's rules are fair. They were created by Democrats to help them nominate the best Democratic candidate to carry their banner into the general election. They were created to be fair to Democrats -- not Independents, Socialists, Libertarians, Greens, Republicans, or anyone else who is not a Democrat. And it is not up to Independents, who find themselves supporting someone running in the Democratic primaries/caucuses, to change the party rules -- no matter how unfair they perceive them to be.

If you want to help make Democratic Party rules, then you should be a Democrat. Join the party, work for its candidates (even in off-year elections), become a delegate to state and national conventions or a party official (it's not hard and it's a democratic process), and then campaign within the party for the changes you want. Staying outside the party, and sometimes voting Democratic, doesn't give you the right to help make party rules -- or to whine about them.

We have a big-tent party, and we welcome all those willing to work for the party (regardless of race, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political orientation). We welcome your ideas and hard work. But we will not bend (or break) our rules to placate whiners who don't really want to proudly call themselves Democrats.


  1. "Fair". Uh-huh. The Democrats have colluded with the Republicans over many years to block anyone else from meaningful participation. From debates, to ballot access to public financing, the diumvirate is given preferential treatment. Nothing fair about it. And pointing out that the Democratic establishment isn't very democratic is not "whining".

  2. I would agree with you about ballot access and public financing -- but we are not talking about fairness in a general election. This post was talking about how outsiders (people not members of a party) want to dictate what that party should do. If you don't like the Democratic Party, then don't vote for it in November. But if you are not a member of a party, then you don't get to dictate party rules.


ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED. And neither will racist,homophobic, or misogynistic comments. I do not mind if you disagree, but make your case in a decent manner.