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“The Supers Are Now Supposed To Anoint Sanders”: Bernie Sanders Legitimizes Those Damned Superdelegates

Considering how loudly the Sanders campaign has complained about the nominating role of superdelegates – a group of 712 Democratic party and elected officials appointed rather than elected to the convention — Bernie’s current plea for them to deliver victory to him instead of Hillary Clinton carries a strong whiff of…expediency.

Over the past few months, Sanders supporters have inundated print and airwaves with angry denunciations of the superdelegate system as elitist, unfair, undemocratic, biased against their candidate, and fundamentally illegitimate. Many observers agreed that they had a point (although to me the caucus system seems worse). The most fanatical Berners in the press even openly accused party officials of plotting to “steal” the nomination. Most Sanders voters seemed to view superdelegates just as dimly as big corporations and billionaire donors, elements of a discredited system ripe for “revolution.”

And since last winter, major progressive organizations that support the Vermont senator, such as MoveOn.org and Democracy for America, have circulated petitions demanding that all of the superdelegates cast their convention votes for the candidate that won a primary or caucus in their respective states. Sponsoring the DFA petition was none other than Robert Reich, the economic commentator and former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich.

Having gathered more than 400,000 signatures total, the petition sponsors now find themselves awkwardly in conflict with their own candidate, who said on May 1 that the superdelegates supporting Clinton should switch to him – regardless of who won their home states.

But that was then and this is now, as a cynic would observe. Beyond his disorderly abandonment of what was previously advertised as democratic principle, Sanders has now validated the role of the superdelegates, no matter whom they ultimately choose. By urging them to deliver the nomination to him, he is agreeing that their votes alone can determine the validity of a presidential nomination, even if that means overturning the popular vote (where Clinton leads him by around three million ballots or so).

Coming from a candidate whose campaign and supporters righteously criticize Clinton for insincerity and flip-flopping, this latest strategy is refreshingly pragmatic (to put it politely). Yet more than a few #FeelTheBern activists can still be heard complaining about those dastardly establishment superdelegates. Evidently they haven’t gotten the memo yet, explaining that the supers are now supposed to anoint Sanders.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, Featured Post, The National Memo, May 4, 2016

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton, Super Delegates | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Closed Primaries Did Not Stop Bernie Sanders”: Peddling Misleading Explanations To Supporters As To Why He Fell Short

Bernie Sanders is so convinced that his campaign was fatefully hamstrung by “closed” primaries in which independent voters could not participate that he is including the end of closed primaries in his list of convention demands.

There’s no reason to deem this demand self-serving; at 74 years of age, Sanders will not be running for president again and he apparently wants to create a process in which candidates who follow in his footsteps will have a better shot.

Although he has every right to pursue that goal, he’s wasting his time, and squandering his leverage, by focusing on closed primaries. Yes, he was swept in the closed states. But he also lost the open primaries by a 2-to-1 margin.

There have been 40 state contests so far, 27 primaries and 13 caucuses. Nineteen of those primaries  were accessible to independent voters. Yet Sanders only won six of them, and two were his home state of Vermont and neighboring New Hampshire.

Hillary Clinton has only won six more states than Sanders, and she won all eight closed primary states. Would throwing all those contests open have made a big difference?

Probably not, because most of Clinton’s closed primary wins were not close. Connecticut was the narrowest at five points, but that contest was also the most “open” of the closed states since independents could switch their registration the day before election. Twenty percent of the Constitution State’s electorate was composed of self-described independents, not far behind the 27 percent share in the Sanders states of Michigan, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Four others, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana and Maryland, were completely out of reach for Sanders, as Clinton posted margins between 20 and 48 points. Only three closed states might have become competitive if independents could have participated: Arizona, Pennsylvania and New York, where Clinton’s spread was between 12 and 16 points.

The reality is that, in general, primaries were unfriendly terrain for Sanders. His wheelhouse was the caucus, pocketing 11 out of 13. The low-turnout meeting-style contests are known to favor liberal candidates, having buoyed George McGovern and Barack Obama to their nominations. Sanders recently said, “We want open primaries in 50 states in this country.” If he means that literally, and would end caucuses altogether, that would certainly increase voter turnout in those states. But it also would risk ceding what’s now populist turf to establishment forces.

These facts are important for Sanders’ his fans to know. Not to rob them of their comforting rationalizations and make them wallow in their misery, but so they can best strategize for the future.

They want the Democratic Party to change. They want a party that shuns big donors. They want a party that routinely goes big on progressive policy goals.

But if they believe that the nomination process is the obstacle preventing the will of the people from enacting that change, then they are letting gut feelings overwhelm hard facts.

The only explanation for the sudden obsession with closed primaries is that we’ve just had five of them in the last two weeks. The truth is the race was lost long before, when Clinton build an essentially insurmountable lead by sweeping the largely open primaries of the South and lower Midwest. Sanders’ recent defeats stung badly because his die-hard supporters wrongly believed his caucus streak meant he was gaining momentum. They should not let that sting cloud their vision.

One wouldn’t expect the average voter to pore over the intricacies of delegate math. Sanders has, and he should know better. Granted, the intense emotion a candidate suffers at the end of a losing presidential campaign is an excruciating feeling most of us can never fully grasp. Undoubtedly, it’s painful for the candidate to take a step back and make clinical assessments instead of excuses.

If he wants his revolution to keep moving forward, he can’t lead it in the wrong direction. He can’t get caught up in the raw emotion of electoral defeat. He can’t peddle misleading explanations to his supporters as to why he fell short.

Because if he does, he is going to waste their time, energy and precious political capital fighting a convention floor fight for nomination rules reform that is a complete distraction from what they really want: a party rooted in populist principles and funded by small donors.

 

By: Bill Scher, a Senior Writer at Campaign for America’s Future, Executive Editor of LiberalOasis; Contributor, RealClearPolitics; May 2, 2016

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Iowa Caucuses Are Un-American

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s in Iowa that the first presidential caucuses are charming. Iowa doesn’t feel like a place where big money and fancy suits win electoral contests (and it’s not; one of the most endearing characteristics about former Republican Rep. Jim Leach was that he wore sweaters under his suitcoats). But without the down-home nature of Midwestern Iowa setting the mood, the caucuses by very definition feel disturbingly un-American.

Caucuses aren’t really free elections. They’re meetings at which group dynamics and peer (or nonpeer) pressure is present and can have an impact on who wins the day. There is no privacy, no secret vote. Friends or married couples who might have deceived each other about whom they were voting for won’t be able to keep the lie alive in a caucus. That might be laudable on some Dr. Phil meter of honesty, but it’s not good for the electoral system. Free and fair elections demand secret ballots.

Watching a caucus can be fascinating to the outsider, and can provide insights to observers and campaign workers alike about who has what constituency group. At the Nevada caucuses in 2008–one of them held, appropriate, at a casino hotel ballroom in Las Vegas–the division was stark. The housekeepers, many of them Latina, huddled on one side of the room, cheering for Hillary Clinton. The showgirls and other younger casino workers gathered in smaller clusters for Barack Obama. It provided an interesting visual, and one that backed the polls: Clinton had a loyal following among Hispanics, and had earned support from those female wage-earners, despite official support for Obama from the casino workers’ union. But there was something very creepy about the public display of individual support, especially since it wasn’t voluntary. There is no opportunity, in a presidential caucus, to give a private endorsement of any candidate.

Iowans have been doing this a long time, and are no doubt used to giving up the opportunity to cast a secret ballot. Will it make some voters feel pressured to support one candidate or another? Will some feel isolated, casting a ballot for a Jon Huntsman or even a falling Michele Bachmann, fearful of looking silly for backing a candidate now seen as having little chance of winning the GOP nomination? Public protest and free speech are honorable, and are American rights. But so is choosing to be quiet about one’s political views.

 

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, January 2, 2012

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Democracy, Election 2012, Voters | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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