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April 21, 2016

Superdelegates and Animal Farm Revisited

by Anne Paddock

All animals are equal.                                                                                          ~George Orwell, Animal Farm

Americans pride themselves on the democratic principle of “one person, one vote.” Well, sort of. Registered voters cast their ballots for a presidential nominee in the primaries leading up to the political conventions where the party representative is formally nominated by the delegates, not the voters.

In the Democratic Party, there are delegates (also called pledged delegates) and superdelegates. Pledged delegates are elected while superdelegates are designated or assigned. Under a proportional representation system in the Democratic Party, the pledged delegates (4,055) are awarded proportionately to the candidates based on the primary election results where the “one person, one vote” rules.  Sounds fair.

Superdelegates (719 that cast 715 votes because several are half-votes) are not part of the proportional representation system.

All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.                                                                                                                             ~George Orwell, Animal Farm

They include 438 elected members of the Democratic Party, 20 “distinguished” members of the party including past presidents, congressmen/women (193), senators (47), and governors (21). These superdelegates are not pledged and can support any candidate they want, even if another candidate in their district won the primary (under the one person, one vote rule), which is an insult to the democratic process because it’s unfair.

‘Comrades!’ he cried. ‘You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples.   ~George Orwell, Animal Farm

So why does the Democratic Party need 715 votes to be independent of what the people want? Because the high-ranking democrats want to maintain some control over the nominating process. Just in case the people don’t vote to nominate a candidate to their liking, the superdelegates can come in and potentially swing the results to nominate a democratic presidential candidate who did not receive the majority of votes in the primaries.

I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?    ~George Orwell, Animal Farm

The democratic insiders have argued that super delegates are needed to give grass-roots activists an opportunity claiming that party leaders could win primaries based on name recognition. The opposite also holds true. The superdelegates keep the party leaders in power and can potentially block a grass-roots activist from obtaining the nomination the voters support. The problem is that superdelegates have more power than delegates (because they are not bound by the voters) and that in and of itself is undemocratic.

I would argue that superdelegates are the antithesis of the democratic process that we hold close to our hearts in this country. With the exception of the democratic party leaders and Hillary Clinton, the majority of people believe that the principle of “one person, one vote” is sacred to maintaining a democracy. Let the people speak. Respect the “one person, one vote” rule in which our votes are equal.  All delegates should be elected, not awarded and every delegate should reflect the sentiments of whose who elected them.

Man serves the interests of no creature except himself.                                                                                                                          ~George Orwell, Animal Farm

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