Sanders is right: Eliminate superdelegates
© Getty Images

The Democratic National Convention, the Democratic National Committee and Democratic leaders in Congress should agree to eliminate superdelegates as we know them lock, stock and barrel.


Elected officials and others who are now superdelegates should be given some form of VIP status. They should receive passes to be on the floor of the convention and non-voting access to all convention proceedings and candidate suites. But they should not be able to vote on candidates or convention rules, credentials or procedures unless they were elected in primaries or caucuses by voters.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Democrats deals to bolster support for relief bill | Biden tries to keep Democrats together | Retailers fear a return of the mask wars Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Hillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case MORE (Vt.) is right about this. I have always disagreed with the very concept of superdelegates. The presidential nominee and the decisions made by the national convention should be made by, and only by, elected delegates.

Superdelegates were created with the idea that sometimes the voters may need to be overruled by party insiders and the party establishment. This very notion is absurd and anti-democratic and violates a core belief of what the Democratic Party should stand for and how the Democratic Party should govern itself. In the Democratic Party, the people should rule, and the people should never be overruled by establishment insiders.

I know and have known many members of the House and Senate and superdelegates of various kinds for many years. In fact, very few superdelegates have a great desire to be superdelegates. The last thing any elected official wants is to suggest that the voters are wrong and to overturn their decision about the most important decision a party can make, the choice of its nominee for president. This would create major problems for them back home, as those who support a candidate who won, who then had the nomination taken away from by party insiders, would be furious at their elected officials.

In addition, any candidate who won the nomination against the will of the voters would be virtually unelectable in the general election as the majority of voters who supported the candidate who prevailed in the primaries and caucuses, and had the nomination taken away by superdelegate insiders, would walk away from a superdelegate-dictated nominee in droves.

It would be perfectly fine for certain party officials and elected officials to be given a form of VIP status to reward them for their contribution to the party in the past and the contribution they can make in the future. Would it be fair to honor them? Yes. Should they be given power to overrule the will of the people? No, no, a thousand times no.

There are good reasons that superdelegates have never overturned the result of primaries and caucuses in the history of this bad idea. It would be political suicide for many superdelegates if they did; it would do grave damage to tainted nominee if they did.

We live at a time when political establishments are among the most unpopular classes of people in America. We live at a time when almost 80 percent of voters disapprove of Congress, whose members would be among the most visible superdelegates. How can any fair and rational political person favor an idea that would hurt the superdelegates who overturn the will of the people, and hurt the candidate the superdelegates chose against the will of the people? The idea that members of the unpopular class of political insiders, and/or members of the unpopular class of members of Congress, would show contempt for the decision of voters is grossly unfair and politically insane.

Bernie Sanders is right. The time has arrived to end the superdelegate system, let the people decide, and make it clear that the party of the people is, indeed, the party of the people and not the party that is the private property of establishment insiders.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at