Have the Democratic Superdelegates Been Compromised?
Bernie Sanders had a record number of supporters turn out to give him a 22 percent win over Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primaries.
It was a big win in terms of voter support, but it didn't translate to a big win in terms of delegate support.
Despite the fact that Hillary suffered the second biggest defeat in New Hampshire's history, both candidates walked away from New Hampshire with 15 delegates.
Because in the Democratic Party, unpledged delegates, also known as "superdelegates", don't have to support the same candidate as the majority of voters.
In fact, the whole point of superdelegates is to give the party elite more control over the primary process.
That's not a conspiracy theory, that's what the chair of the Democratic National Committee recently told Jake Tapper.
That's right, the chair of the DNC said that unpledged "superdelegates" are meant to be a bulwark against grassroots movements in the Democratic Party.
Unpledged super delegates have been a part of the Democratic Primary process ever since Ted Kennedy supporters challenged sitting President Jimmy Carter for the democratic nomination in 1980.
Democrats had started to feel like their primary process had become too chaotic, and that it was resulting in nominees that ended up losing in the general election.
So the Party decided to make their primary process just a little less Democratic by cordoning off a percentage of the total available delegates as "unpledged delegates" who don't have to support the candidate that the majority of primary voters and caucus-goers choose.
It was a move in the wrong direction - it wrested control away from voters and made the Democratic primaries fundamentally less democratic.
And the Democratic Party has only accelerated the process of handing the party over to the economic elites in our country ever since then.
Back in 1992, Al From and the DLC fundamentally changed the Democratic party with a "bloodless coup" that put Bill Clinton in the White House and replaced the Democratic agenda of FDR, JFK and LBJ with the agendas of Wall Street and global corporations.
Since then, the party ranks have been filled with third-way corporate Democrats and lobbyists.
And many of them, particularly the lobbyists, have become unelected superdelegates, despite their blatant ties to corporate America.
Lee Fang over at The Intercept recently published a list of 15 unelected pro-Hillary superdelegates who are working as lobbyists at the same.
Here's just a few examples.
Jeff Berman is a "top lobbyist" at Bryan Cave LLP, he also formerly worked as a lobbyist for the private prison company Geo Group, and he worked with TransCanada to build support for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Bill Shaheen is married to Senator Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire, and he also runs a law firm that’s lobbied on behalf of the American Council of Life Insurers, which lobbies on behalf of 300 health insurance companies that represent 90% of U.S. health insurance assets.
Joanne Dowdell is the "senior vice president for global government affairs" at Fox's parent company, News Corporation, meaning that she's one of the media establishment's top lobbyists.
Jill Alper, Minyon Moore and Maria Cardona are all officials at Dewey Square Group, which is a lobbying group that worked to undermine health reform efforts back in 2009.
Dewey Square Group is also on retainer by pro-Clinton Super PACs like Priorities USA Action and David Brock's Correct the Record.
And then there's Jennifer Cunningham.
She's the managing director of SKDKnickerbocker, a political consulting firm that has worked to get tax cuts for overseas earnings, to weaken rules for for-profit colleges, and to undermine Michelle Obama's nutrition guidelines for children's food products.
These aren't just lobbyists, these are Democratic superdelegates who have all lobbied for causes and issues that are antithetical to the progressive principles of the Democratic Party.
After the article was published, Lee Fang added a few more familiar names to the list: Dick Gephardt, Tom Daschle, Chris Dodd, and even Howard Dean are all pro-Hillary superdelegates who are doubling as corporate shills.
To be clear, the problem isn't that these superdelegates support Hillary Clinton.
The problem is that the Democrats have allowed their nomination process to be blatantly compromised by moneyed interests in America.
To make matters worse, last week the DNC flung the flood gates open for special interests to shape the Democratic primary process by doing away with the rules that Barack Obama put in place to prevent lobbyists from donating to the party.
The Democratic party has been moving in the wrong direction since it decided to create superdelegates to reign in grassroots candidates back in 1980.
And in both parties, 2016 is shaping up to be a populist push-back against the party elite.
If Americans suspect that the Democratic elite have been rigging the nomination process, then Democrats are going to have a hard time harnessing the grassroots energy that they'll need to propel their candidate to the White House.
If they want to win in November, it's time that the Democrats make their primaries truly Democratic again.
They need to once again ban lobbyists from donating to the party, and they need to ban lobbyists from serving as unelected and unaccountable superdelegates.
Beyond that, it's time to fundamentally overhaul the delegate system to make it clear that it's not the role of superdelegates to override the Will of the People.
The Party wants what the Party wants. Same on both sides. I see Hillary and Jeb.
So much for the evil one's supporter's dying off. Thom, don't you always point out the "vast differences" between the Dem's & the Rep's? This makes them seem even more to be two horses in the same race, but working for the same elite & committing treason against their country in the process because once 1-world Gov't takes over, there won't be any nation-based priorities. We'll all be 3rd-world, slaving away for the benefit of the 1%, while they will have the assets of the U.S. military industrial complex available to them at their disposal.
The net has reduced the role of gate keepers for news.
So too is it now putting pressure on both party elites to disappear.
There is only one way to fight the corruption and undemocratic power of the superdelegates, and that is to provide Bernie with Convention insurance. How? 2 million people need to take the Bernie or bust pledge.
I am 80 years old and have been a Democrat all of my oting life, as were my parents before me. I've volunteered to help on many a campaign. I no longer consider myself a Democrat.
Judyfr. Can I ask why? What are you now.
In reply to judyfr, I totally agree. I too have been a Democrat all my life. I am 58 now. My parents were married 71 years, and the only time they were close to divorce is when my Dad told my mom that he had voted for Ike! He had been a 2nd World War vet and thought the general deserved his vote :). But, Thom, today's Democratic party has a putrid stink to it. Democrats used to fight for the working man, now they bow to Wall Street. Democrats used to praise unions and labor, now they can't wait to sign new job-killing trade agreements. And Hillary is the worst of the worst. She flip-flops faster than a puppy with a sliver in it's paw! The TPP is the Gold Standard, then she is against it. The Keystone is "great", then she is against it. She takes millions from Wall Street and then crows about how she will regulate the sun-of-a-guns! How stupid does she think we are? So, I have voted for my last Democrat. Bernie or Bust for me. I'll write him in if I have to. And spare me the, "that's just throwing your vote away," crap. If HRC is the nominee, the DNC has already thrown my vote away!
Your insightful questions are great, and I compliment you for taking on conservatives and neocons. I do get completely frustrated by the discourse between the so-called right and left however, many times resorting to turning off the TV before I blow a cork or simply get depressed.
That's a problem for me with Democracy Now as well. Great info, but largely depressing. I wish we ALL could focus more on the solutions rather than getting into arguments over how the DNC is controlling the election. Of course, they are.
If we all had access to good information and used it wisely if we had a viable media and a multiparty system rather than a two party duopoly, perhaps we could all focus on solutions, stop arguing, and just vote our conscience.
I'm left with the feeling that everything about our political system is simply not working. I believe the people must provide stringent oversight of our nation's political system. It's in cardiac arrest, and we need a new heart.
I had frankly forgotten about the (allegedly) "Democratic" superdelegates and their absolute power to impose the Ruling Class will on the party. But this indeed explains why there has been no extralegal interference with the Sanders candidacy: the superdelegates will ensure Sanders is denied the nomination and that it will instead go to whomever the One Percent wants on the ballot.
(My own belief is that Trump is the true choice of the USian Ruling Class [just as Hitler was the choice of the German Ruling Class], and for virtually the same purpose -- the imposition of omnipotent capitalist governance: absolute power and unlimited profit for the One Percent and its vassals, total subjugation for all the rest of us -- in other words, fascism. Thus -- if my hypothesis is indeed correct -- Hillary, who is already obviously less popular than Trump, is therefore certain to get the Democratic nomination, if only to ensure Trump's victory. Likewise, Obama's innumerable betrayals would then be explainable as a deliberate, breathtakingly cunning effort, methodically scripted by his Wall Street masters, to discredit the Democratic Party thoroughly enough to guarantee the Republican victories of 2012 and 2014 and thereby clear the way for Trump's fascist landslide in November. Thus would formally end, forever, any further pretense of USian "democracy." Cynical? Indeed, but how can anyone who has paid attention for the last 65 years doubt it is in fact realpolitik as it is manifest in the USian empire.)
That said, I am not suggesting we should abandon the Sanders campaign. In fact, if my hypothesis is correct, building the Sanders campaign is more important than ever. By mustering an enormous pro-Sanders majority that is then nullified by the superdelegates, we prove to ourselves and to the world in terms that cannot possibly be denied that the United States' experiment in representative democracy is as dead as the so-called "American Dream" -- that the U.S. is now the world's most powerful fascist dictatorship, the de facto Fourth Reich.
Which in turn clears the way for the consciousness changes -- locally and globally -- prerequisite to genuine revolution.
Thom, you're not being accurate or wise politically. The super delegates were for Clinton in 2008 too, but when Obama got so many primary delegates Clinton released them and the will of the voters was followed. This would happen again if Bernie defeats her in the primaries. You also failed to mention that a huge chunk of super delegates are elected Democratic House members and Senators. Another huge chunk are the Chairs and Vice Chairs of all the state Democratic parties. Those you talk about here are very few compared to delegates gained in the primaries and other super delegates. You are being unwise politically by unnecessarily criticizing the Democratic Party right now feeding the false equivalency of the two parties. I've had to stop watching the Big Picture because you are stacking it with constant exaggerated attacks on Clinton and the Democratic Party. Be wise, stop the circular firing squad, stop the civil war amongst Democrats, stop doing the Republicans will. Job 1a is electing a Democratic President and Job 1b is electing Democratic House and Senate members in swing districts across the country. Keep your eye on the prize!
Democracy ? you haven't got a Democracy, you have an Oligarchy where Politicos bow to the wishes of their Corporate Paymasters. It really is time that the Pitchforks and Guillotines were brought into play, you need a Revolution. If Clinton gets the Nomination, Bernie should stand as an Independent.
It's interesting to note that our first president, George Washington, had little to no use for political parties, a fixture in Great Britain where a monarchy ruled the country.
Washington continued to advance his idea of the dangers of sectionalism and expands his warning to include the dangers of political parties to the government and country as a whole. His warnings took on added significance with the recent creation of the Democratic-Republican Party by Jefferson, to oppose Hamilton's Federalist Party, which had been created a year earlier in 1791, which in many ways promoted the interest of certain regions and groups of Americans over others. A more pressing concern for Washington was the Democratic-Republican efforts to align with France and the Federalist efforts to ally the nation with Great Britain in an ongoing conflict between the two European nations brought about by the French Revolution.
While Washington accepted the fact that it is natural for people to organize and operate within groups like political parties, he also argues that every government has recognized political parties as an enemy and has sought to repress them because of their tendency to seek more power than other groups and take revenge on political opponents. Washington thought that disagreements between political parties weakened the government.
Moreover, Washington makes the case that "the alternate domination" of one party over another and coinciding efforts to exact revenge upon their opponents have led to horrible atrocities, and "is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism." From Washington's perspective and judgment, the tendency of political parties toward permanent despotism is because they eventually and "gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual."
Washington acknowledged the fact that parties are sometimes beneficial in promoting liberty in monarchies, but argues that political parties must be restrained in a popularly elected government because of their tendency to distract the government from their duties, create unfounded jealousies among groups and regions, raise false alarms amongst the people, promote riots and insurrection, and provide foreign nations and interests access to the government where they can impose their will upon the country.
Courtesy of Wikipedia;
Loren we must have had different history books in Canada. Hitler was far from the ruling class, he was the man of the people. Kind of a out sider. Similar to Bernie. His whole campaign and road to power was take from the rich and give to the poor. That was exactly what he did as the Jews where the "US Ruling class" they had the wealth or where the 1%. Everything was going great, the economy was booming, of course unless you where Jewish, until Hitler lost his mind and decided to kill the Jews and take over the world. Funny what people will do once they get power. I see Bernie as very much like the early Hitler. A man of the people. But of course, instead of taking a class of people's lives and money, he just wants to take a class of people's money. Both wanted to take the wealth and trickle it down the wealth ladder. Either way it is a war on a specific class and in my opinion it is wrong. Before you all go crazy I am not saying Bernie is as bad as Adolf I am just stating facts. I hope we all agree Bernies intentions are all good. We defeated Hilter that's why we can express our opinions freely. Thank god for those brave young women and men.
I agree wholeheartedly with Tom's analysis. If Hilary is nominated because "superdelegates" make the difference, I will not vote for her. I will not vote for the Republican under any circumstance. I may take Cape Breton up on its offer if a Republican wins. But if Hilary wins because of "superdelegates", DEMOCRACY has already lost.
marco, as someone said to me, if not Bernie we may as well have Trump because we'll have to overthrow he or the like that only might get elected Bernie will win!
That's too bad, becasue Bernie's campaign could easily give the Democratic Party a majority in both houses of Congress (possibly a super-majority in the Senate). Hillary can't, because she is essentially offering little more than "more of the same" corrupt system.
marcopolo123; I whole heartedly agree with you Mark ! I'm sure you feel the same as me, I haven't left the party, they left me !
Kend, you're reading altogether other history books. Hitler's avowed purpose from the start was to eradicate Bolshevism, or Soviet Communism. He did throw some fodder to the working class movements that were popular in Germany then in that Great Depression period but that was only lip service to draw the masses. Then he equated capitalism - as well as Bolshevism - with Judaism to divide and conquer the masses by scapegoating. Those masses were very inclined to do this out of centuries old habit and the era's frustration with and outrage at capitalism.
Bernie isn't anything like Hitler, you've been reading too many ridiculous National Review hatchet jobs. Bernie is a genuine socialist, not just paying lip service.
Hitler then made partnership with big business and government. If anything the DNC is like Hitler or, even more so, the Republicans are.
Don't read those absurd right wing rags.
We fought in the Democratic National Conventions of 1964 along with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and others and in 1968 for democratic control of the party by the members. Back room deals for nomination were supposed to be over with.
I guess the party doesn't belong to the members, we're some maroons who are supposed to applaud whatever theft the frauds want to commit against us and then it's "so long suckers" at us.
We probably do not need delegates at all.
Isn't the majority of voters to decide.
Delegates are designed to dictate OUR Democracy
Kend: Urgently suggest you read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (William L. Shirer, Simon & Schuster: 1959, 1960, 1987, 1988, 1990). It is recognized throughout the world as the definitive work on the subject, and indeed I have read it three times (first in 1962 while returning from Korea on the USNS Sulltan).
While it is true Hitler's original appeal was to reactionary elements in the Working Class, the murderous purge of 30 June 1934 (see Shirer, 1990 edition, pages 213-226) methodically eliminated the Working Class elements and cleared the way for the open alliance between Hitler and capitalism, not just the Krupps et al in Germany but the capitalist aristocracy in the United States as well, most notably the DuPont, Ford and Bush families.
That said, Kend, whomever taught you the history you described has done you a grave disservice -- one best remedied by a careful reading of Shirer.
Again, the Bernie revolution WILL NOT materialize. All of the young college kids backing him are the same as the ones who backed Obama. They think that they only have to vote once and it's a done deal. That's why they never showed up in the mid-terms. Bernie has been preaching these same things for years, and what has he accomplished toward their end in all of his years in the Senate. It's very unlikely that the House will not be changed because of all of the gerrymandered seats on the right, so it will remain the Ryan House. EVERY ONE OF THE THINGS that Bernie is pushing has to get funding in the house, or must come up on the floor for a vote. Bernie is NO MATCH for the crap that the right comes up with in their constant stonewalling, and as he has gotten excited when Hillary has said something against him, one can only imagine how he will react to not getting anything done. That will be the story folks if he wins the nomination and gets elected (which I think is very doubtful, while Republicans are pushing for him to win the nomination, it's their fear of Hillary). Hillary has been lied about, scrutinized more than any man that is running for office, she is still standing. She's smart and tough and just might be a match to overcome all of the hubris that the right has continually handed to Obama. I will be caucusing for Hillary.
After reading this, one might walk away thinking Thom doesn't support the superdelegates, but just a few days ago, Thom AGREED with the superdelegates and said they should have a stronger voice because they aren't just any "Johnny come lately" that only votes every once in awhile and that the superdelegates are chosen because of their relation to politics.
What is your agenda here, Thom? Why are you speaking through both sides of your face?
One minute you're getting hostile towards pro-Bernie, anti-Hillary callers, then you're defending the very superdelegates that might ram her down our throats, then you're writing an article that sounds as if you don't support them.
I've listened to you for about 10 years now, Thom. . . I've always respected you. I've loved your show and have learned a lot from you, but it almost seems like you've either fallen into the corporate trap (with your new-found fame and TV show), you've been bought off, or you just can't remember what you say from one moment to the next.
I would like to add that no one can trust an individual that is so partisan he will support a candidate that holds ZERO progressive values, simply because a 'D' is written beside her name.
Stop being a corporate cheerleader for the Democratic party and go back to being a cheerleader for the American people.
Forgive my aggression here, but I'm really sick of it, Thom.
In my opinion it's time for Bernie to forget about Hillary and just go on total offense attacking the Teapublican Party. He has a National audience now, and they need to hear targeted political truth from a guy on the front lines in congress.. Simple statements about Ryan's budget plans, anti-science climate change deniers, Turtleman blocking anti-outsourcing of jobs legislation, Republican demands for continued out of control military spending, cuts to the Social Security Program, unending tax break for the very rich, anti single payer party, blockage of green energy legislation...etc, etc. Keep the attack non wordy and right to the point.....repeat , repeat, repeat.
Make the American public aware of who has been the major player in denying the will of the people....not to say the Democrats haven't played a role, but let's be honest, I don't see the Kochs standing behind Democrats in the next election. Democratic Socialism stands no chance with the Fascist Party in power.
The American public will eventually pick up on the undeniable truth. Make it embarrassing to be called conservative, Republican, Tea Party, right wing. Voting Republican is self injurious behaviour, expose it for what it is. The next election is far more than just a battle for the executive postion in the White House. Bernie can do enormous damage to the Fascist Party...Being armed with irrefutable truth, knowlege of dirty Republican deeds that will shock the masses, information the corpse media has denied the public. He has the upper hand on the battlefield now, and needs to inflict a crushing blow before Capitalist/Fascism totally ruins our economy.
How about this for example: If you want to see the Social Security program get handed over to Wall Street, and quickly disappear, then by all means vote Republican. If you want to see the Social Security Fund strengthened and expanded, then vote progressive and for Bernie. The Teapublican effort to privatize Social Security is ongoing. Bernie and a progressive congress would simply lift the cap.
Simple statements like the above could be applied to free trade, single payer, regulation of the big banksters, green energy, etc. ....all things the Teapublicans are on the wrong side of history with....way on the wrong side! It might as well be the Union standing up against the Confederacy again...it's that bad. Fascism is real, it's here, and has a death grip on our democracy with little time to spare.
Forgive me Thom but I tend to agree with Op Ed Daily. I totally agree with this blog piece from you regarding superdelegates, but I was informed by my sister that she heard you defending them the other day. Which one is it?
I've learned a lot from you over the years, but lately, I'm having a hard time listening to you when you talk about the two candidates. On most days (I don't get the chance to listen every day), you seem to be telling us that both candidates are wonderful and we would be lucky to have either one of them as our next President. Perhaps you believe that, but after listening to you for years, I find it quite disingenuous.
I realize the democratic party is split between the two candidates and you are perhaps afraid of losing listeners, especially if Hillary is the nominee. But I would respect you so much more, if you said what you really thought now about the two candidates (sometimes, it peeks through). If and when Hilary gets the nomination, there will be time enough for you to rally around her, and in the mean time, you might actually influence some of your listeners that there really is something major at stake here,and there really is a big difference between the two candidates and what they stand for, and the direction each one will take this country in, if elected.
And I really wish you would stop getting so excited that Hilary seems to be turning left and isn't that wonderful? No, Thom, it just shows that she is willing to say and do anything to get elected. We all know that if she should actually win the election, she will go right back to center-right, where Bill was and where she has been. And nothing will change regarding corrupt campaign finance system, and the corporations will continue to have way too much power and influence in our lives and in our laws. Respectfully.
What is even the point of "superdelegates" if they're not accountable, especially to the voters?
The ONLY point that I can see, for a process other than 1 person, 1 vote , is so the powers-that-be can rig the system and throw the candidate that serves their interests the most.
Keep in mind, the Democratic party is a money-machine; it's something similar to a union that turns in on itself and begins to be counter-productive to its initial 'wants/needs'.
That's the ONLY reason.
Reply to #26: Right on, 10K! Couldn't agree more.
I resent the existence of superdelegates, whose purpose it seems is to undermine the will of the majority. We need to cut off blood supply to that tumor before it kills our democracy.
It's uplifting to see so many great posts. And Loren, welcome back! I've missed you here. - AIW
Thom, You wrote: "Democrats make their primaries truly Democratic again.
They need to once again ban lobbyists from donating to the party, and they need to ban lobbyists from serving as unelected and unaccountable superdelegates.
Beyond that, it's time to fundamentally overhaul the delegate system to make it clear that it's not the role of superdelegates to override the Will of the People. - See more at: http://www.thomhartmann.com/blog/2016/02/have-democratic-superdelegates-been-compromised#sthash.3SjBpiKu.dpuf
and that Bernie supporters need to help do that. I'm sure it's too late now for the 2016 election??? Could you give us some steps as to what Bernie supporters can do about this fraud? And thanks for the information on superdelegates. You give more information than I was already aware of.
Ginico, Why would you vote for a Republican, a DINO like Hillary? Is the revolution gonna come faster with the more of the same, this incremental shifting of the spectrum to the right with each election cycle through this "good cop, bad cop" routine of the corporatist, DLC Democrats and hard line Republicans that Clinton represents?
It's still better to have someone who wants to return genuine democracy in the White House. Obama was NEVER about that. If he was he wouldn't have appointed Rahm Emmanuel and Lawrence Summers and the rest of the cabal to the top positions of his administration.
A guy showed up at our Whittier for Bernie debate watch party. I suspect he was a Hillary surrogate. He made an announcement that we should remember that Hillary won the popular vote against Obama in the 2008 primary but Obama won by Super Delegates. I thought he was sent to spread that meme so we wouldn't protest if Bernie won the popular vote but she takes it with Super Delegates. I looked it up to see if his story was accurate. Wikipedia showed that what he said was true BUT remember what Thom says about Wikipidia... it's HIGHLY REDACTED.
Caucuses are upon us. One way to send a message to the DNC is to make a resolution. Regarding compromised superdelegates, what should a resolution say?
I suppose that elected officials are acceptable as superdelegates. The problem is with DNC officials and other Democrats who have a conflict because of employment as lobbyists. Yet not all lobbyists are at odds with democratic principles. For example, environmental lobbyists seem to be acceptable. What distinguishes the pernicious ones is their potential to impose the interests of their causes over the electoral process.
Thom, don't forget the hour long Biden set-up by Rachel. I predict that the DNC already knows Hillary is history and Joe is being preped to step in.