Democratic: Based on a form of government in which the people choose leaders by voting, of or relating to democracy — Merriam-Webster dictionary
Bernie Sanders was the big winner in Washington state this weekend as his supporters dominated the Democratic Party caucuses. Statewide, Sanders supporters outpaced Hillary Clinton supporters by a 3-1 margin. Walla Walla County followed the trend as Sanders had support from about 71 percent of those who partcipated in (or sent proxies to) the caucuses in College Place.
But let’s be clear: There is little about the way the two major political parties select their nominees to run for president of the United States that’s democratic. Stop pretending it is.
Some Sanders supporters, however, are naively clinging to the belief that it is a democratic process and therefore their guy should be awarded about 75 percent of all the state’s delegates. They are irked the state’s 17 superdelegates (Democrats elected to office and party officials) are free to support the candidates of their choice — who is currently Clinton.
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A petition on MoveOn.org demands those delegates “follow the lead of average Democratic party voters and uphold authentic democracy.” As of this past week, it had support of 31,000 people and the number is likely far higher today.
Being a superdelegate is a perk of power. Top elected Democrats and party officials are automatic delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
Washington’s superdelegates include Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott, Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Adam Smith, Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer (all Clinton supporters). Other superdelegates are state Democratic Party officials.
The nomination process is not an election. In Washington state, gatherings of the party faithful at caucuses serve as the foundation for gauging support and selecting delegates.
Republicans and Democrats have different systems, but the basic premise is the same. Party members get together to talk through the issues and come to a consensus.
The GOP, at least this year, will use the results of the May primary to allocate presidential candidate preference for delegates selected at the caucuses. It’s a hybrid approach.
Democrats, however, use only the caucuses to determine delegate support for all but their superdelegates.
Is all this fair?
Of course not. It was not designed to be fair by Democrats (or Republicans). It is a system — established by party officials — to nominate a candidate the party members will support and who they believe can be elected president in November.
Democrats have superdelegates so party leaders can maintain some control at the National Convention this summer.
Don’t count on the party leaders to make any changes.