Bolstering the will of the people, by potentially undermining it
Political wizards. Sorting hats. And the Great and Powerful Oz.
These are a few of the things that superdelegates are not. But in case you haven’t brushed up on the intricacies of American electoral politics lately, Samantha Bee has put together a primer explaining what those very consquential decision makers actually are. Here are a few bullet points:
- They are specific to the Democratic party. Republicans don’t have them.
- Superdelegates were first implemented during the 1982 presidential primary.
- Mostly, they’re in place so The People don’t totally fuck up the Democrats’ chances in the general election by nominating a lemon to represent them (see: George McGovern).
And while it can seem like the super-delegates are in place to subvert the will of the people if they deem it appropriate, Bee highlights the benefit of having them in place by saying, “Belive me. Republicans would give their left nut for superdelegates right now.”
These free agents matter a lot, because if Sanders eclipses Clinton in the delegate count, her super-delegates will likely flip and vote for him instead. And the gamesmanship is on. Clinton’s press secretary, Brian Fallon, told CNN’s News Day that the Sanders camp is trying to game the system by courting superdelegates ahead of the Demoncratic National Convention this summer. Fallon basically called the tactic shady business and said that Sanders “wants to try to flip superdelegates and get him to overturn the will of the people as expressed through who’s won the most contests.”
So, because Clinton has trounced her opponent in the popular vote, Sanders should respect that – or something. But politics is a dirty profession, and as we all learned in the 2000 presidential election that pitted Al Gore against George W. Bush, the popular vote is just a participation trophy compared to those sweet, sweet electoral college votes.
Stay tuned, everyone. We’ve got a long way to go, and these presidential campaigns aren’t going to get any friendlier.