Presidential Campaign

Why superdelegates shouldn’t support Sanders

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As the sun sets on Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), he looks like bizarro-Atlas hunched over trying to hold it up with accusations of electoral unfairness and a Salem-style quest to take down Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee.

{mosads}Sanders has spent much of the twilight of his campaign griping about the Democratic primary being a “rigged system.” Specifically, he has focused on the superdelegate disparity, saying, “We have won — at this point — 45 percent of pledged delegates, but we have only earned 7 percent of superdelegates. … [Y]ou have establishment candidates who win virtually all the superdelegates; it makes it hard for insurgent candidacies like ours to win.”

It’s no surprise that a self-described “democratic socialist” believes there should be a “fair” distribution of superdelegates, and it’s even less surprising that a candidate who refers to his campaign as a “revolution” refuses to step aside after he has been defeated.

The party primary systems are Orwellian nightmares, and the idea of superdelegates is right up there with Jar Jar Binks, “The Chevy Chase Show” and New Coke. The superdelegate system exalts the ruling class above the voters and essentially gives the party veto power over the people. Despite that, the superdelegates are currently using their power correctly and responsibly by supporting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sanders thinks that in a two-candidate race, if one candidate has 45 percent of delegates, they ought to have 45 percent of the superdelegates. In truth, they out to have zero percent of the superdelegates.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump had a legitimate gripe about the Republican unpledged delegates. He had the most delegates, won the most states and collected the most votes, yet he stood to lose the nomination because he lacked the support of unpledged delegates. That is an example of establishment characters going against the will of the people.

Trump’s recent defense of Sanders’s accusations of unfairness are based less on reality, and more on pandering to Sanders’s supporters in the hope of corralling them into the so-called “silent majority” that will support Trump in November.

On the Democratic side, however, the superdelegates are respecting the voice of the voters. Here are three simple, inalienable facts about the Democratic election so far:

  1. Clinton has received more votes than Sanders to date.
  2. Clinton has won more states than Sanders.
  3. Clinton has won more pledged delegates than Sanders.

Sanders has no legit claim to superdelegates as long as those three facts remain.

Sanders plans to drag his heels all the way from the last primary in California to the convention in Philadelphia in hopes that the superdelegates will pick up a copy of the collected works of H.A. Goodman, start feeling the Bern and support him at the convention. That would be a perfectly fair outcome in the mind of the democratic socialist senator from Vermont. But, in truth, that outcome is the one that would be unfair, unjust and would expose a “rigged system.” If the superdelegates did flip-flop their way into the Sanders camp, then they would give him victory over a candidate who won more votes, more states and more pledged delegates. That would be superdelegates abusing their power. That would be undemocratic.

Here’s the Sanders logic broken down into a couple of if/then statements:

  1. If the superdelegates support the candidate with the most votes, most pledged delegates and most victories, then the system is rigged and unfair.
  2. If the superdelegates go against the will of the voters and support the candidate with less votes, less pledged delegates and less victories, then the system is transcendently wonderful.

Right now, Sanders isn’t losing because the system is rigged, or because Wasserman Schultz is out to get him, or because the establishment is in the tank for Clinton. Sanders is losing because the other candidate has received more votes than he has.

Here’s a piece of sound logic for Bernie Sanders to chew on: If the superdelegates decide to thwart the will of the voters, then the system is rigged.

Zipperer is assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College.

Tags 2016 Democratic primary 2016 presidential campaign Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Hillary Clinton superdelegates
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