Friday, March 4, 2016

Playing with fire.

I never thought I'd say it, but here's a giant helping of good sense from Nancy Pelosi on the issue of superdelegates:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday amplified her criticism of the Democrats' presidential primary system, saying the states' pledged delegates — and not the superdelegates — should decide the winner.

"I'm not a believer in the sway of superdelegates deciding who is going to be the nominee," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. "I think we have a democratic process where people vote on both sides of the aisle … and that that should determine who the nominee is."

* * * *

The comments arrive as some Republicans, wary of putting the surging Donald Trump at the top of the GOP ballot in November, are floating the idea of staging a brokered convention in an effort to topple the controversial party front-runner.

Pelosi declined to predict how a Trump nomination might affect the Democrats chances at the polls in November — "Let the Republicans nominate who they nominate, and they we'll have that debate then" — but she also warned that the Republicans would face a political tempest if they sought to toy with the primary results.

"If somebody has the majority of the delegates from the votes of the people, I think that you change that to your peril," she said. "Whatever party you are."[1]

Who are these "superdelegates" to cast votes equal to votes cast by delegates elected by thousands of voter? I could make an argument in favor of the superdelegate mechanism from general republican principles. The electoral college was set up to be a second last line of defense against a truly horrible choice by the people. The indirect election of senators was a mechanism that also diluted the effect of popular thinking or passion (and should be brought back). Lincoln Steffens made a convincing case for a superior delivery of services to city dwellers by patronage politicians over politicians arising out of various good government reform movements.

Be that as it may, it would be unwise for leaders of any party to proceed as though these are normal times.

There are warning lights flashing in many unexpected quarters that indicate the electorate is energized precisely over the issue of having their legitimate concerns being contemptuously ignored. Any attempt to continue with practices that have fueled this deep-seated anger will not be well received.

Either party is playing with fire if they think that delegates at their convention can snatch victory from the candidate who worked hard to earn delegates by competing in the primary process. "Too clever by half" would be the operative dictum and any candidate nominated by virtue of supermajority manipulation will instantly be utterly illegitimate in the eyes of the nation.

[1] "Pelosi pans superdelegate system." By Mike Lillis, The Hill, 3/3/16.

1 comment:

Brian E. said...

The indirect election of senators was a mechanism that also diluted the effect of popular thinking or passion...

It also allowed a forum to allow the states to voice and at least attempt to protect their interests. The 17th Amendment ended up being just another way to dilute the power of the states, to the benefit of the central federal government. Was that an unintended consequence?

I doubt it.