The Democratic Party has historically been the party of FAIRNESS, fairness in all things big and small. They spearheaded the drive to pick most delegates by mass primaries, not by party leaders — in the name of fairness. They allocate their convention delegates proportionately, not winner-take-all — in the name of fairness. They have rigid quotas for women and minority participation as delegates — all in the name of fairness.

Yet the Democratic convention is facing the real possibility of two nomination scenarios, neither of which could be considered “fair,” nor even particularly democratic (small d). It is possible that the Democratic nominee will be chosen either by so-called “superdelegates” who are unelected or by delegates from two states whose primaries were ruled invalid by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Superdelegates became part of the Democratic convention in the early 1980s when party leaders felt that past conventions had become, shall we say, unruly. See 1968, 1972 and 1980 for further information. These superdelegates were not elected by party rank and file and, according to the wisdom of the time, could look dispassionately at the candidates and act in the best long-term interests of the party.

That’s the theory. The reality is that superdelegates are just as prone to flattery and momentary impulses as the pledged delegates — and perhaps more so. Indeed, they are the most fickle of delegates, and, far from resisting an unwise course, are more likely to jump in front of the cause du jour if only to preserve their status as superdelegates. Most are committed to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) because … well, because. Usually it’s because they’re friends of Bill’s or because they thought she was going to win, or some other reason. But the question remains: Why should these unelected officials determine the nomination of the party that purports to believe in fairness?

Worse are the disputed delegates in Michigan and Florida. These states are being sanctioned by the DNC because they held their primaries too early this year. As such, there was an understanding, sort of, that none of the candidates would campaign there. However, Sen. Clinton “won” the majority of votes cast in these primaries and now pressure is building, mostly by the Clinton campaign, not to “disenfranchise” these two important states and to seat these pro-Clinton delegations. How fair is that? If either candidate won the nomination with the votes of these delegates, the explosion would be heard far and wide. How legitimate would the nominee be under such circumstances?

The party of fairness has some real explaining to do to its own members.