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Superdelegates Might Decide Democratic Party Convention

It has been many years since a party convention in the United States has been decided by superdelegates rather than delegates from state primaries and caucuses. It could happen this time again, says our guest writer Brian Livingston, editorial director of Plus: He expects "the worst kind of racist smear literature coming from far-right extremists" should Barack Obama win the Democratic nomination. Here's what else he had to say shortly after the Washington State primaries:

Brian LivingstonMy wife and I attended our precinct caucuses on February 9, and about 100 people were there to vote, as opposed to about 25 in the same precinct four years earlier, when Kerry, Dean, and Edwards were candidates. The vote in our precinct this month was more than 2-to-1 for Obama over Clinton (we supported Obama).

Hillary won in zero out of 39 counties in Washington State. The interesting part for people around the world, of course, is not how Washington State liberals voted, but how the nomination process will go in the rest of the U.S.

The New York Times recently reported that neither Obama nor Clinton will get enough delegates to win the nomination without some support from the "superdelegates" -- party officials from the 50 states. That is true unless Obama wins 81% or Clinton wins 91% of the delegates in the states that will vote in the coming weeks, the Times says (free registration required). Several polls have shown that, if the election was held today, Obama would beat McCain but Clinton would lose to McCain, according to CNN analyst Bill Schneider.

It is very early, of course, and anything can happen between now and the general election in November. If Obama is the Democratic nominee, I expect to see the worst kind of racist smear literature coming from far-right extremists who despise the concept of integration. But this might actually generate more sympathy for Obama, who could gain votes as a result.

When Bill Clinton made statements before the South Carolina primary comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson, a black presidential candidate who campaigned for civil rights in 1984 and 1988, many voters took offense and switched their support from Hillary Clinton to Obama. Six in 10 South Carolina voters told exit pollsters that Bill Clinton's comments had affected their votes, with 48% voting for Obama and only 37% for Hillary Clinton.

This year's U.S. presidential election is shaping up to be one of the most unusual campaigns in the past two decades: a Republican candidate who is considered far too moderate by conservative Republicans, and a Democratic candidate who will be either the first woman nominee or the first mixed-race nominee. (Obama's mother was a white American born in Kansas, and his father was Kenyan, but in the mainstream media Obama is always referred to as "black" rather than mixed-race. I assume the use of the all-or-nothing "black" label for Obama is an unconscious form of mild racism.) Please also see the Kansas Prairie Blog.


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David on :

The worst thing that could happen to the Democratic party would be for the super delegates to overturn the will of the committed delegates and the voters. I know that Hillary's campaign is considering something like this, but it would be disaster. On Obama as a black candidate: he avoids referring to himself as such, since to some extent his campaign is about transcending racial division. But African-American voters view him as black, as do most Americans in general. Obama himself quips that he knows what he is every time he tries to hail a cab in NY City.

Don S on :

"The worst thing that could happen to the Democratic party would be for the super delegates to overturn the will of the committed delegates and the voters." I agree. I think the Democratic Party is setting itself up for it's own little version of the 2000 election: a tie. On the other hand it's going to be a nice civics lesson on the byways of American democracy; the first 'contested' political convention since Ford vs Reagan at the 1976 republican convention. And that wasn't a complete disaster for the GOP, if you recall. Ford began the election campaign Waaaaayyyyy behind Jimmy Carter but caught up almost all the way by election day & losing by a hair. Some believe that if the campaign had lasted another week Ford would have won. Four more years of Bozo the Clown; the Republicans dodged the bullet by losing to Carter! But I have to agree that if Hillary manages to get the nomination by hook or by crook it may be a bridge too far for the Democrats. McCain is a genuinely popular political figure & for whatever reasons Hillary's popularity tops out at about 45%. If she 'beats' Obama through backroom deals it won't raise her popularity, it will lower it. And it's HARD to win with that much of the electorate disliking you that much! Particularly with Nader running again this year. It's going to be a genuinely difficult problem for the Democrats, with two 'identity' politicians going head to head this time. Obama hasn't played the race card like Hillary played the gender card, one of the best things about him is that he has run a campaign which recognizes that if he wins he will be the President for the whole country; not merely selected demographics therein. But he can't get away from identity in a sense; he is who he is.

Joe Noory on :

He expects "the worst kind of racist smear literature coming from far-right extremists" should Barack Obama Really? So far it's only been coming from the same people ther majority of it always has: southern Democrats and union Democrats, represented these days by the Edwards stalwarts and the Clinton block. When this whole sad, torrid, distracting psychodrama of identity politics is over, no-one on the left will be able to remember what a political platform is anyway, what with so much avoiding of one thing or another the winning democrat will still be "carefully re-engineering their image" around for the next 5 or 9 years. If it makes them feel any better, if they keep it up, the guy with the partial physical disability will win. That should still fit nicely into the leftist heirachy of symbol-triggered guilt that people have trained themselves into. The saving grace will be less entitlement politics, theatrically concealed contempt for the traditions of the majority, and economic nativism.

David on :

"theatrically concealed contempt for the traditions of the majority" That's funny, because the majority are trending heavily to the Democrats this cycle. You seem to have a special hatred for Americans who think differently from you.

Pat Patterson on :

Everybody loves to let the majority rule as long as they are in that majority. But if you are on the wrong type of the majority, say being for the death penalty or against affirmative action, then those stupid clods are racist and ignorant instead of merely expressing the will of the people. And only the courts then should decide these issues. As to an half-witted death match between two equally minded candidates trying to claim that they are bluer than the other guy except when they are not bluer than the other guy I'm looking forward to the continued fireworks. Plus I am in agreement with Joe Noory that aside from idiots posting in blogs on all parts of the political spectrum the half-hearted hints of racial polarization, gender identity, secret apostasies and slush funds which are mainly coming from the sinister side of the aisle. The Republicans, fearing being labeled either racist for asking for a cup of black coffee or sexist for referring to a ship as she have adopted the turtle mode and let the Democrats exhaust themselves. But I strongly suspect that comes the general election I can count on once again being labeled, as Gore Vidal put it, a crypto-Nazi.

Pat Patterson on :

Also I would probably avoid referring to the delegates as "committed" as that can only bring up past images of Al Gore dancing the Macarena, Sen. Clinton's late night cackle, Ron Paul's blimp or even the John Dean's scream heard round the world. Pledged would probably be a better word and surprisingly that also includes the super delegates many of whom have promised their votes for one candidate already. But heck it's the Brave New World and promises made in the old dying one don't count. Get with the program!

bashy on :

I have had enough, if you don't vote for obama you are racist, and if you don't vote for clinton you are sexiest. can't we vote for the person who is closer to our beliefs. the left and msm try and call you a racisist when you don't see things their way. look at the so called duke rape case that wasn't. the only racisit there was jessie jackson and al sharpton. I believe two will try and brew up trouble and maybe cause rioting.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Sadly, there are still a small minority of people in America who may react to Obama in a racist way. We've already heard from them somewhat; if Obama wins the Democratic nomination, I expect we will hear more from them. Some of them are Southern Democrats, but others are not. I also expect that once the general election is under way, we will hear rejection and condemnation of racism from the McCain campaign and from all respectable conservative voices. I hope when these rejections happen, they will be accepted by Obama supporters in the same spirit as was Obama's rejection of the rabid racism of the Nation of Islam. Finally, no matter who the Democrats pick, I fear we will see manufactured racism/sexism allegations against McCain. What I mean is, something similar to the Duke rape hoax in which wholesale fabrication of events that never happened is instantly accepted as gospel, and then defended to the death as a matter of faith, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Such fabrication is racist/sexist in and of itself, as well as incredibly divisive. We've already seen a small sample of this in the NY Times smear job about McCain's rumored affair with a younger lobbyist and the related rumors of corruption. I hope McCain has the stature and character to deal with these types of smears. I think that he does.

Don S on :

"If Obama is the Democratic nominee, I expect to see the worst kind of racist smear literature coming from far-right extremists " This would actually be no different than what has happened to past presidents, except for the racist component of course. Does that make it worse? No, it probably makes it better if anything, because unlike the smears aimed at Reagan, Bush, and Clointon (I), racist smears aimed at Obama will have the likely effect of strengthening him rather than detracting from him. I know that if I see racist smears I personally am more likely to pull the Obama lever come November. That crap does not work in the US anymore if it ever did. Not for many, many years.....

Reid of America on :

Obama's biggest problem is religion not race. He was born and raised Muslim. He has since converted to a radical black liberation Christian church that was founded by the Rev. Wright who is also a Muslim apostate. Why would Obama belong to an anti-semitic, pro-Muslim Christian church? Why would he feel comfortable in a church that has celebrated Farrakhan as a great man? Once the average voter learns the details about Obama's religious affiliation he will be unelectable. The public will be informed about Obama if he gets the nomination. If you want a Democratic president Clinton is the only one who can win. Current polls are as meaningless as the polls from 3 months ago that had Clinton and Guilliani locking up their nominations.

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