Updated: May 2, 2022
Miracle Max: "there's a big difference between 'mostly dead' and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive."
Max is right. While we were thankful that Westley, Princess Buttercup's long lost beau, was only mostly dead when he encountered Miracle Max, most of us would prefer that superdelegates, or rather their "super power" were all dead (not them literally). But we have things to be mostly hopeful for with the DNC, even if the "super" delegates are slightly alive, and it is so much better than we had in 2016.
First, let me address the obvious. If anyone thinks that the DNC recognized the error of their ways in the 2016 primary and worked expeditiously to correct their mistakes, you will be disappointed. Let that sink in. The DNC is primarily controlled by establishment Democrats that pledged their "unpledged" delegate vote overwhelming for Clinton early in 2015. We know that's a rigged process and they know it's a rigged process, but they refuse to admit it. If they admit it, then they have to take responsibility for picking the wrong candidate and creating a Trump presidency and that's not going to happen, at least not now. I imagine in another 20 years or so we might read about it in their memoirs, but not now. So, please, don't expect that miracle. It ain't happening.
What we can expect is for them to have polled the grassroots about what they need to show up and vote blue in November and 2020, and what they are willing to let slide. We won't see the results of these polls (and I haven't seen them either), but we will know what the results are by what they are willing to pass in August. To be fair, there is a lot in this package of reforms that you are going to like a lot. It's much better than I expected. But, to address the superdelegate issue, here are the main points to the recommended reform:
1. Superdelegates' votes will NOT change the outcome of the primaries and caucuses if there is a clear winner. Let that sink in. That's a clear win for us. Superdelegates either can't vote at all on the first ballot OR they can only vote if the winner has so many delegates that their vote can't change the outcome. I don't know how the media will handle this rule and that is something that concerns me, but if progressive voters see this change as positive, we are safer from being manipulated by the media (domestic, Russian, fake or otherwise).
2. Here's the "mostly dead" part.... in the event that 3 or more candidates enter the convention and there is no clear winner (50% + 1), then the superdelegates get to vote on the second ballot. And, yes, of course they will be able to turn the outcome. The likelihood of this scenario is somewhat unlikely, but it is still a possibility. I don't like it, but that's what they came up with. It needs to be changed in the future and maybe we can change it if we all #BecomeTheDNC over the next few years. In the meantime, it is better than I ever expected considering the people creating the recommendation, and it is even better than the Unity Reform Commission recommendation that would have still allowed members of Congress to remain "super". My friends, this is a deal we should take and run with in my opinion. Is it perfect? No. Is it good compared to what we had? YES, in fact, it's great compared to what we had in 2016.
3. Current DNC members and members of Congress will now be called "automatic" delegates, meaning that they automatically get to go to the convention, but not vote on the first ballot. They will be voting delegates on other party matters, like platform and resolution votes, but they won't vote for the presidential nominee on the first ballot unless one there is a clear winner going into the convention, and their votes cannot change the outcome.
4. Some DNC members want to vote on the first ballot and want to be able to run as a pledged delegate. The recommendation from the Rules and Bylaws Committee is that they will be able to do that; however, if they win they are pledged to their candidate and if they lose they will not be a delegate to the convention at all. In other words, they can't fall back on their "automatic delegate" status. They lose that option. A few may still run, but most won't. They won't want to take the chance of picking a possible losing candidate and being bound to them at the convention and some won't want to bump a grassroots person out of participation by taking that slot. Expect a few, but not many, to take this option.
Do all the DNC members agree with this superdelegate reform? No. When they vote for this reform, they are voting to take power away from themselves. That rarely happens in any organization. This is how we know the importance of this reform in particular. Additionally, there are some DNC members that are terrified of losing their power so much that they are actively recruiting members to vote against this reform. The recommended reform needs a majority of the DNC members to pass (50%+1).
6. My concern is that if the band of undemocratic Democrats are recruiting members to vote NO, and some people on our side are trying to introduce amendments to get more than this, we might lose it all. We could go back to 2016 when all supers could stack the deck over a year before the first vote is cast. This is a good deal and whether we like it or not, we need to be allies with Tom Perez, who is actively pushing this reform, on this issue (I know, this is not what we expected from him). You should also know that this recommendation is only for 2020. The charter would need to be changed to make it permanent. A charter change takes 2/3 vote. We will be lucky to get a majority, let alone 2/3rds. Right now, this is the best I think we can get.
Here's what I recommend that we do.
Resolutions: Have local Democratic chapters and clubs (Young Dems, Federation of Dem Women, County Executive Committees, etc) write and pass resolutions - here is a sample resolution to use. Be sure to send the resolution to all of your DNC members once you pass it. Do a press release in all of the area newspapers so everyone knows what is being asked of the DNC members. This creates public awareness and public pressure on the DNC members. If they don't understand what's going on, send them information. Feel free to use this site as a source. However, the DNC will be sending out all of the documents and holding conference calls for the members.
Contact your DNC members: If you don't have time for the resolution, and even if you do, ask everyone you know to contact your DNC members and ask them to vote FOR all of the recommended reforms and ask that they support a roll call vote. Please don't yell at them or threaten them in any way. It makes us all look bad and hurts our cause. If you can, make appointments with your DNC members, educate them about your concerns and how the reforms address your concerns. When they come out in favor of the reforms, publicly praise them. I anticipate that all of the union DNC members will be in favor due to the labor leaders on the Rules and Bylaws Committee leading the charge on these reforms. Labor seems to get it.
Show up: Finally, if you can, show up in Chicago on August 23-25. There will be positive organized actions to join, but I also think it's good to meet and talk face to face with the DNC members. They need to hear that you support these reforms.
Please join me in sharing information about the superdelegate reform. Let's get this passed. Let's build unity. And, never forget, we must #BecomeTheDNC