Sunday, May 11, 2008

Super Delegates?

Chicago 1968 Democratic Convention

What's that wonderful line? If you can remember the sixties you didn't do them. Well, technically I didn't in that sense. I was this terribly serious student that got involved with the political issues of the time but not the sex, drugs, and rock and roll part. I came very late to that party. So I really remember the 1968 Democratic Convention. The party of inclusion blew it and called out the cops . . . or as we referred to them in those days . . . the pigs.

The end result was long lasting. The Democratic Party ended up deeply divided. Many of us young Democrats defected to the SDS, the Communist party, and later alternatives like the Green party. We are not easy to get back in the fold. I worked for Republican Senator Charles Goodall in the 70's because he was against the war in Vietnam. To this day my party registration depends upon the demographics of where I live. I like to vote in primaries so I register with whatever party gets me the best slate of candidates. Here in northern New Mexico that is Democratic.

But I vote my conscious. Which is a phrase I am sure both the Republicans and Democrats do not like hearing. And I align behind candidates because of issues I am deeply concerned about. Since McCain's stance on illegal immigration effectively nullifies that issue in the Presidential campaign I am in the Democratic camp because of Iraq and the economy and gas company profits.

But I digress. The subject of this blog was to be Super Delegates. After the disastrous 1968 convention and the subsequent lost White House to the Republicans the Democrats, to give them some credit, decided to mend their ways. And that was basically to oust the smoked filled room way of choosing a flag carrier and give more people a voice in picking standard bearer for the party. Ergo our current, and evolving, primary system. Mind you there is nothing in the constitution regarding primaries and they do not have to be democratic, small d. In 1982 the Democrats, capital D, came up with the super delegate concept but it has been largely under the radar until this election.

Last night I tried to explain this to a slightly younger friend of mine who did do the 60's. And is still endowed with that moral outrage that led to the fighting in the streets of Chicago. He wants this whole process to be transparent and democratic, small d. What are super delegates? Personally, I think they are the vestiges of those smoke filled rooms buffed and fluffed to be presentable. Will they ignore the popular vote, elected delegates, states carried, and will of the people? Only if they want 1968 all over again.

And the Democrats have been so great thus far this election. They conducted every primary with paper ballots or machines with a paper trail. The Republicans continued to use the electronic ones with no backup. They have let all the candidates play this out long after it would have once been called up short. And those voting in the primaries have turned out in record (and thus far peaceful) numbers. But as we near the end it is all going back to that smoked filled room of the party bosses - the Super Delegates. The ball is in your court. Are you going to play fair?