Tuesday, February 16, 2016

That time the DNC quashed superdelegate reform

Bernie Sanders supporters have suddenly discovered the Democrats' infamous superdelegates, those party luminaries who, unlike ordinary delegates to the national convention, are allowed a vote for whatever presidential nominee they feel like, without direction from primary voters anywhere. But for those older than 20 or so, this shouldn't be coming as a surprise, as the party went through all of this back in 2008, when at one point it looked like superdelegates might steal the nomination from Barack Obama and give it to Hillary Clinton.

What few realize is that the effort to reform the system so that this could never happen again was intentionally foiled by the Democratic National Committee back in 2010. I broke the story for Newsweek at the time -- and at a stage in the process where the decision could still have been reversed. Guess what? Nobody cared. Not MoveOn, not Bernie Sanders, not even the White House, even though they'd backed the reforms the DNC overturned. Indeed, the only person who tried to do something about it was one of the committemen from Maine, Sam Spencer, who was subsequently tossed out of his position.

But this week, suddenly lots of people care. Huffington Post had this piece on my 2010 piece. Newsweek tweeted it out as if it was fresh news. Salon cited Spencer's quotes. Now MoveOn has petitions demanding the rules be changed now, which is of course not how this all works.

Lesson: if you're a Democrat and think this is a bad way of doing things, make a stink in the off-year when the decisions are actually being made, not during the election when those decisions suddenly imperil your favorite candidate. And maybe buy Sam Spencer a drink.

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