Dallas Pols Are Among Superdelegates Who Will Protect the Democratic Party from Misinformed Voters

Scene from the 2008 Democratic Convention.EXPAND
Scene from the 2008 Democratic Convention.

They’re the superheroes of the Democratic Party, swooping in to save the day with their super vote before a misguided populace burns the Democratic establishment to the ground by selecting a candidate who spews radical ideas as if it were 1972.


Birthed in the flames of George McGovern’s '72 presidential campaign, they don’t wear capes or spandex, and they’re not particularly strong or fast … or even bulletproof. Their unpledged ranks only account for 15 percent of the more than 4,000 delegates found in the Democratic Party, but they have the power to create or destroy a presidential nominee despite what a majority of their constituents may demand.  


Every four years, “superdelegates,” as they're known by non-politicians, travel by plane, train or automobile to the Democratic National Convention to stop voters’ madness by casting votes to swing an election in the Democratic establishment’s favor. In July, more than 700 superdelegates will be traveling to the convention in Philadelphia, including 29 notable Texas Democrats such as state Representatives Rafael Anchia, Yvonne Davis and Royce West. Of the three, only Anchia has pledged his support — to Hillary Clinton.


Each state’s Democratic party leadership selects who will serve as a superdelegate from among politicians like big city mayors or state representatives, and some of them retain their position for years like congressmen decaying away in Washington.  


Superdelegates obtained their superpower as a result of the Democratic establishment’s distrust of voters after former President Richard Nixon annihilated McGovern in the 1972 election cycle, says Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.    


“Committee leaders said, ‘Look, we got swept away by a populace uprising, and we need some people with more vision and more farsightedness, people who care about the party,’” Jillson says. “[They felt] it was important to find a middle ground between the popular vote and party leaders who care about the institution.”


Only 15 percent of the more than 4,000 Democratic delegates assume the mantle of superdelegate, he says, but the percentage doesn’t have much impact at the Democratic National Convention unless the race to win delegate support is close.


The question “Is this democratic?” has haunted the Democratic Party for decades, and some critics point out that superdelegates “are just the modern version of the ‘smoke-filled room’ in which presidential candidates were picked decades ago.”


But since Clinton won even more state delegates on Tuesday, Democrat leaders are now breathing a sigh of relief.


“They are not unaware of its importance to the democratic elections and would very rarely go against the popular vote,” Jillson says. “They recognize the impression that leaves and only use it when the party gets into real trouble.”  


Republican National Committee leaders are not breathing a sigh of relief as they find themselves knee deep in trouble with their constituents pushing forward a candidate who, critics claim, drops lies like an apple tree drops fruit, bullies protesters and some members of the press from his pulpit and threatens to destroy the Republican Party.


Over the years, Republican leaders have mastered the ways of gerrymandering like crazed Sith lords attempting to unseat the Jedi as they try to overcome a 1.1 million popular-vote deficit, according to a Republican report titled “How a Strategy of Targeting State Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican House Majority in 2013.”


Their strategy included rejiggering maps in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to help them secure a House majority, but their gerrymandering ways aren't helping them as Trump continues to collect more and more states for the Republican nomination.


Now the Republican establishment is desperate, threatening to circumvent their own rules by ignoring many of their constituents who seem to be hellbent on voting a non-politician into the Oval Office. Veteran Republican attorney Ben Ginsberg told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow a couple of weeks ago that the rules could be changed when the Republican convention rolls around in order to remove the people’s candidate for the establishment’s choice.  


The Republican establishment is so desperate that 120 former Republican leaders released an open letter denouncing Trump for everything from his admiration of foreign dictators such as Vladimir Putin to his dishonesty. They’re even contemplating a third-party option or an “independent Republican” ticket if Trump wins the nomination.   


“[The third-party ticket] would support the other Republicans running for Congress and other offices, and would allow voters to correct the temporary mistake (if they make it) of nominating Trump,” William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, wrote in an email to The New York Times.  


But sadly, no superdelegates will be swooping in on July 18 to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to save their day.



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