For the first time, I imagine that I have an opinion that will be unpopular among my friends. Which is why I think I should say: I’m ok with superdelegates (read
if you’ve been living under a rock). If I were in charge of the party, I’m not sure I would design it that way. But I understand why they exist, and I don’t think it needs to change. I hope you’ll hear me out.
First of all, let’s look at the scope of the issue. Superdelegates make up about 715, or 15% of the total delegate pool. Of those, a little over one-third are elected officials -- democratic congressional representatives and governors. The rest, about 460 across the country, are made up of prominent figures in the Democratic party. The full list is
, for anyone who is curious.
So, the first thing I want to throw out there is that Superdelegates cannot stop a popular insurgence. True, if a candidate managed to get every single one lined up against them, they would have to get a ⅔ majority. But that’s not how things go down. Hillary was similarly lined up in 2008, but the majority of superdelegates went with the Obama as the more electable candidate. Because ultimately, that’s their job.
It’s distasteful and cliche to say, but electability MUST be the first criteria in the Democratic candidate selection process. Because high ideals, beautiful speeches, and even capability to do the job mean nothing if you don’t actually have it. And electability is complicated.
It takes 270 electoral college votes to win the presidential election. And it is the most complicated count to 270 you’ll ever do. Even with the assistance of
, you have to be familiar with state-by-state polls and how they translate to actual voter turnout. You have to know what issues will end up mattering, which states will be swing states and which are guaranteed. To truly predict electability, you have to know electoral math like the back of your hand. And nobody reading this has the time, which I know because
to the electoral calculator and if you’d clicked the earlier one, you’d have stopped reading.
The general population (myself included) is voting based on instinct and general likeability -- especially in this race, where their only
virtually all amount to what they think is achievable. I don’t have the expertise to know which of them is electable. I don’t have the expertise to know which of their policies will succeed. In situations like this, I defer to experts. And if you were reading earlier, you’ll know that’s exactly what the superdelegates are made up of. The primary complaint about superdelegates is that they’re undemocratic. And that’s fair. But you must also acknowledge that we don’t live in a democracy.
Our nation is too big; too complicated for us to run ourselves. In a Democracy, you don’t get to check in on governance once every four years. Governing the US isn’t a full-time job; it’s 2.6 million of them. Democracy would paralyze us. We need a Republic. We need elected officials. But at the level of president, even the process of election is so complicated that we need help figuring out who the best candidate is. Superdelegates don’t tell us, they don’t have the power; they just lightly suggest. And it’s important to remember that on election day, they get the same number of votes as everybody else.
You’re entitled to feel differently. But if you do, you’ve got to stand by the consequences of your opinions and vote based on research on electability and feasibility. Because in the primary, votes based on instinct and emotion lose elections.