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  1. #1
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    Default The Democrats' Super Disaster

    Very interesting read. This puts things into perspective. By the way this is written by a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley

    The Democrats' Super Disaster
    By JOHN YOO
    March 24, 2008; Page A15

    Until recent weeks, one of the least understood aspects of the Democrats' primary contest was the role of superdelegates. These are Democratic Party insiders, members of Congress, and other officials who can cast ballots at the party's national convention this summer.

    But now these unelected delegates are coming in for a close inspection, because neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama can win their party's nomination without superdelegate support. The big Pennsylvania primary on April 22, for example, has only 158 delegates at stake (each of them will be pledged to support one of the candidates). By comparison, there are a total of 795 superdelegates, none of whom are required to honor the will of the voters of their state at the party's convention.
    [The Democrats' Super Disaster]

    Sound undemocratic? It is. That the 2008 Democratic nominee for president will be chosen by individuals no one voted for in the primaries flew for too long under the commentariat's radar. This from the party that litigated to "make every vote count" in the 2000 Florida recount, reviled the institution of the Electoral College for letting the loser of the national popular election win the presidency, and has called the Bush administration illegitimate ever since.

    Democratic Party reforms in 1982 gave super-delegates about 20% of convention votes -- so that party greybeards can stop a popular, but politically extreme, candidate from seizing the nomination. The Democrats deliberately rejiggered their party's rules to head off insurgent candidates, like a George McGovern or a Jimmy Carter, who might be crushed in the general election. Unelected delegates thus have more than twice the votes of the richest state prize, California.

    So much for unfiltered democracy. In truth, the Democratic Party runs by rules that are the epitome of the smoke-filled room and ensure, in essence, that congressional incumbents exercise a veto power over the nomination.

    This delegate dissonance wasn't anything the Framers of the U.S. Constitution dreamed up. They believed that letting Congress choose the president was a dreadful idea. Without direct election by the people, the Framers said that the executive would lose its independence and vigor and become a mere servant of the legislature. They had the record of revolutionary America to go on. All but one of America's first state constitutions gave state assemblies the power to choose the governor. James Madison commented that this structure allowed legislatures to turn governors into "little more than ciphers."

    That's why, during the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the Framers rejected early proposals to follow any such model. New York delegate Gouverneur Morris explained that if Congress picked the president, he "will not be independent of it; and if not independent, usurpation and tyranny on the part of the Legislature will be the consequence." Choosing the president would result from the "work of intrigue, of cabal, and of faction." After weeks of debate, the Framers vested the presidency with its own base of popular support by establishing a national election, saying that the president should represent the views of the entire people, not the wishes of Congress.

    They kept the same rule when considering what should happen when the president ran for re-election. Alexander Hamilton wrote, while ratification of the Constitution was being debated, "that the executive should be independent for his continuance in office on all, but the people themselves," for otherwise, the president might "be tempted to sacrifice his duty to his complaisance for those whose favor was necessary to the duration of his official consequence."

    The Framers were deeply concerned that a president chosen by Congress would keep his eye only on the happiness of legislators, turning our government into a parliamentary system like those which prevail in Europe today, in which the nation's leader is merely a prime minister.

    Press reports indicate that the Framers were right to worry. The Clinton and Obama campaigns are now competing hard to win superdelegates. Members of Congress no doubt will cut deals for themselves and their constituents. A water project here, some pet legislation there -- surely such details are worth the nomination. Lose, and the candidate pays nothing. Win, and a presidency is gained. Like shareholders deciding whether to sell in a tender offer, superdelegates will bargain ferociously until the moment that the nominee secures a delegate majority. As we close in on the Democratic convention, the demand for superdelegates will escalate, with the choice of the nominee becoming increasingly the work of political intrigue, inside deals, and power struggles among special interest groups -- just as the Framers feared.

    A nominee who survives this process will come to the presidency weighed down by dozens, if not hundreds, of commitments. Little hope there for a fresh start, or any break from a politics-as-usual Congress. Some may welcome such a development. Some students of American politics argue that the president and Congress should work more closely together. Critics of the Bush administration may well prefer a President Clinton or Obama who obeys congressional wishes.

    But the historical record on this is not heartening. During the reign of the Jeffersonians, the progenitors of today's Democrats, the congressional caucus chose the party's nominee. It was a system that yielded mediocrity, even danger. Congressional hawks pushed James Madison into the War of 1812 by demanding ever more aggressive trade restrictions against Great Britain and ultimately declaring war -- all because they wanted to absorb Canada. It ended with a stalemate in the north, the torching of the U.S. capital, and Gen. Andrew Jackson winning a victory at the Battle of New Orleans.

    "King Caucus" finally broke down when the system reached a peak of "cabal, intrigue, and faction." Jackson received the plurality of the popular vote in the election of 1824, but with no Electoral College majority the choice went to the House of Representatives. In what became known as the "corrupt bargain," House Speaker Henry Clay, who had come in fourth, threw his electors behind John Quincy Adams in exchange for being appointed Secretary of State. Jackson spent the next four years successfully attacking the legitimacy of the Adams administration and won his revenge in the election of 1828.

    It is unlikely that a candidate today would trade a cabinet post for a superdelegate's vote. Sen. Harry Reid is unlikely to be the next Secretary of Veterans' Affairs, or Speaker Nancy Pelosi the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. But the election of 1824 ought to serve as a caution about what may happen again today, if we let Congress play a large role in choosing the next president. Our Framers designed the Constitution to prevent just this from happening. The Democrats have created an electoral system that echoes failed models from the American past, and threatens to sap the presidency of its independence and authority by turning it into the handmaiden of Congress instead of the choice of the American people.

    Mr. Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He was an official in the Justice Department from 2001-03.

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    Never have understood the Democratic nomination process. Seems like to me the primaries are for show, and so Democratic voters feel like they have a say, and they do, as long as they pick the correct nominee.

    Think if the GOP had the same procedure, McCain would've got it? I think maybe, but he certainly isn't popular with the far right crowd.

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    Hang 'Em High sickman's Avatar
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    I love it, lets change the rules so we get our pick. This is there way of saying that their own voters are too stupid to vote for the right candidate.
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    I don't know all the numbers about it, I think the supers take up 20% of the total or something. So basically, unless it's a landslide, the superdelegates decide (as in this year). Am I correct?

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    I said it before, I'll say it again: The Democrats look like a bunch of monkeys screwing a football (the "football" being the voting public).

    By the way, a UC Berkeley professor being critical of the Democrats isn't that surprising. Assuming he's liberal, he's probably considerably to the left of the Democrats.

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    I just wonder if the Democrats will yet again fuck up an easy victory... (See John Kerry...) Hell, that should've been the easiest election in history to win for the Democrats and he fucked that one up...
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    Quote Originally Posted by fast98dodge View Post
    I just wonder if the Democrats will yet again fuck up an easy victory... (See John Kerry...) Hell, that should've been the easiest election in history to win for the Democrats and he fucked that one up...
    That's a misconception, to be fair. Sitting wartime presidents are nearly impossible to unseat (Lyndon B. Johnson is the only real exception). Perceptions aside, Dubya had history in his favor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sickman View Post
    I love it, lets change the rules so we get our pick. This is there way of saying that their own voters are too stupid to vote for the right candidate.
    This is the reason for the Electoral College as well, you know, just in case everyone is too stupid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fast98dodge View Post
    I just wonder if the Democrats will yet again fuck up an easy victory... (See John Kerry...) Hell, that should've been the easiest election in history to win for the Democrats and he fucked that one up...
    They already have, the same way they did then. By picking the worst possible candidates. Mccain wins this easily. Not that that's a good thing. However, neither of these other two yayhoos are even worthy of the nomination.
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    I was watching a show the other day and somebody had a good point. They said if McCain wins this election, somebody needs to dismantle the Democratic party and start from scratch.

    Think if a Democrat was president and we had the same problems. You could throw any Republican up there and they would beat the Dem by 20%. Yet for some reason this will probably be a very close race.

    Personally I would much rather have the moderates from both parties to split so we could have a Centrist party.

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    Atomic Punk fast98dodge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotty View Post
    That's a misconception, to be fair. Sitting wartime presidents are nearly impossible to unseat (Lyndon B. Johnson is the only real exception). Perceptions aside, Dubya had history in his favor.
    Good point... I am too lazy today on my day off to research it but I do wonder what the "approval rating" was of the other presidents that were reelected during wartime... Oh yeah, we aren't at war, are we???
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziggysmalls View Post
    I was watching a show the other day and somebody had a good point. They said if McCain wins this election, somebody needs to dismantle the Democratic party and start from scratch.

    Think if a Democrat was president and we had the same problems. You could throw any Republican up there and they would beat the Dem by 20%. Yet for some reason this will probably be a very close race.

    Personally I would much rather have the moderates from both parties to split so we could have a Centrist party.
    There aren't enough Libertarians to make such a party.
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    The Pilgrims/Americans/Somersets whatever you want to call them, have NEVER displayed "SOX" anywhere on their caps, jerseys, or merchandise, therefore they shouldn't be referred to as such. However, the White Sox have used "SOX" since 1912.

    The SOX are in Chicago...we just allow the Pilgrims/Americans/Somersets to use the name.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fast98dodge View Post
    I do wonder what the "approval rating" was of the other presidents that were reelected during wartime...
    Generally it's pretty high. I do know that George W's rating was going down by the election, but still high enough to win the election. I personally think it's hard to say he only won because of the war (although it was a huge help). He also really appealed to the Evangelical vote (which McCain currently does not, in fact many Evangelicals have said they simply won't vote in this election). Republicans' strongest area of their platform is defense (although many can agree that we are actually less safe due to the current war in Iraq), while Dems mainly run on the economy and more social issue like education etc.

    I am registered Democrat, and right now I am extremely frustrated with the party. In one way we have a "good" problem by having such a close vote between a woman and a African-American; however their fighting is only making McCain look that much better, and making is campaigning that much easier at the moment. Furthermore, Florida and Michigan really screwed things up by changing their primaries (their legislatures knew the consequences of changing the primaries and they did it anyways). If they (FL & MI) hadn't basically screwed things up like they did, we probably wouldn't even be talking about this right now, and more than likely we'd have a nominee... and the super-delegates would more than likely go for the candidate with the popular vote (like they "normally" do).

    Personally, I think super-delegates AND the electoral voters should be bound to vote for the person with the popular vote... that would essentially get rid of them and that'd be great for both parties...

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicholas_kudochop View Post
    Generally it's pretty high. I do know that George W's rating was going down by the election, but still high enough to win the election. I personally think it's hard to say he only won because of the war (although it was a huge help). He also really appealed to the Evangelical vote (which McCain currently does not, in fact many Evangelicals have said they simply won't vote in this election). Republicans' strongest area of their platform is defense (although many can agree that we are actually less safe due to the current war in Iraq), while Dems mainly run on the economy and more social issue like education etc.

    I am registered Democrat, and right now I am extremely frustrated with the party. In one way we have a "good" problem by having such a close vote between a woman and a African-American; however their fighting is only making McCain look that much better, and making is campaigning that much easier at the moment. Furthermore, Florida and Michigan really screwed things up by changing their primaries (their legislatures knew the consequences of changing the primaries and they did it anyways). If they (FL & MI) hadn't basically screwed things up like they did, we probably wouldn't even be talking about this right now, and more than likely we'd have a nominee... and the super-delegates would more than likely go for the candidate with the popular vote (like they "normally" do).

    Personally, I think super-delegates AND the electoral voters should be bound to vote for the person with the popular vote... that would essentially get rid of them and that'd be great for both parties...
    If this goes to the convention, which it will, and the Supers have to pick someone....the other half will explode. 1968 will be like a picnic compared to 2008. There may be a boycott of the Democratic party, and either they vote for McCain in spite of the Democratic nomination, or they don't vote at all, which will make McCain the winner.
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    The Pilgrims/Americans/Somersets whatever you want to call them, have NEVER displayed "SOX" anywhere on their caps, jerseys, or merchandise, therefore they shouldn't be referred to as such. However, the White Sox have used "SOX" since 1912.

    The SOX are in Chicago...we just allow the Pilgrims/Americans/Somersets to use the name.

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    I think the entire election process sucks. Democracy I guess but it still sucks.
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