Has the Democratic Party Establishment Rigged the Nomination Process in Clinton’s Favor through the Superdelegate System?

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Not yet. But they can if they want to. They might. And it’s complicated. Let’s start by noting that even though Clinton and Sanders tied for the popular vote in Iowa, and Sanders won decisively in New Hampshire, the delegate counts — that is, the delegates who will ultimately nominate the Democratic Presidential candidate – don’t reflect the popular vote. Nate Silver explains the discrepancy and gives a little history:

While Sanders does have a modest 36-32 lead among elected delegates — those that are bound to the candidates based on the results of voting in primaries and caucuses — Clinton leads 362-8 among superdelegates, who are Democratic elected officials and other party insiders allowed to support whichever candidate they like.

If you’re a Sanders supporter, you might think this seems profoundly unfair. And you’d be right: It’s profoundly unfair. Superdelegates were created in part to give Democratic party elites the opportunity to put their finger on the scale and prevent nominations like those of George McGovern in 1972 or Jimmy Carter in 1976, which displeased party insiders.

American governance is chock full of such undemocratic structures and procedures, of which the superdelegate system is only one. Take the Senate — please!

There is a tradition that Jefferson coming home from France, called Washington to account at the breakfast-table for having agreed to a second, and, as Jefferson thought, unnecessary legislative Chamber.

“Why,” asked Washington, “did you just now pour that coffee into your saucer, before drinking?”

“To cool it,” answered Jefferson, “my throat is not made of brass.”

“Even so,” rejoined Washington, “we pour our legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”

Oddly, however, when we look at how today’s party leaders justify the superdelegate systems, they don’t use Washingtonian saucer arguments at all; they are clear neither on the purpose of the superdelegate system nor its history. From Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz — you might want to put your coffee down, now — we get this, in answer to a (February 12) question by Jake Tapper:

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, let me just make sure that I can clarify exactly what was available during the primaries in Iowa and in New Hampshire. The unpledged delegates are a separate category. The only thing available on the ballot in a primary and a caucus is the pledged delegates, those that are tied to the candidate that they are pledged to support. And they receive a proportional number of delegates going into the — going into our convention.

Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grass-roots activists. We are, as a Democratic Party, really highlight and emphasize inclusiveness and diversity at our convention, and so we want to give every opportunity to grass-roots activists and diverse committed Democrats to be able to participate, attend and be a delegate at the convention. And so we separate out those unpledged delegates to make sure that there isn’t competition between them.

The above is the quote everybody seems to be using, so let me present Wasserman Schultz’s B side, given to FOX (also February 12):

[WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:’ Unpledged delegates are our party leaders and elected officials who actually can make up their mind at any point and change their mind. We separate those so that we don’t have elected officials and party leaders running against the activists, but want to make sure are helping to diversify our convention. That is something we take great pride in. A Native-American cancer survivor. Those people should have an opportunity to be delegates, too. And they shouldn’t have to deal with very well-known officials and party leaders. And that’s why we separate them.

Wasserman Schultz is stunning in her effrontery[1], both for her fabrication — does anybody really believe that the superdelegate system was set up so that Native-American cancer survivors could run? — and for her paternalism: Does she really think that “Native-American cancer survivors” want to sit at the kid’s table, and don’t want to “deal with” “very well-known officials and party leaders”? Personally, I’d like to deal with them very much, and even have some ideas about how to go about doing it.

And here’s Harry Reid on the same topic, interviewed by Andrea Mitchell (February 11):

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC: There are a lot of concerns among people about the role of the super delegates. Here you’ve got Hillary Clinton getting clobbered in New Hampshire, 22-point landslide by Bernie Sanders, and yet, they divided the delegates 15-15 because she had so many super delegates, so many members of Congress and Senators and the governor of course. Is that a fair process?

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): Well, the process was totally unfair before — eight years ago. Eight years ago, I looked at this and I thought, how in the world could we have the future of this country be dependent on Iowa, which is 93% white, and we have New Hampshire which is 97% white, no diversity, no diversity in Iowa. And have the final decision made as to who is going to be the president of the United States based on those two states, it was wrong. We now have Nevada and South Carolina before we get into the rest of the country as to who’s chosen where.

Reid seems to have rolled the wrong tape; he’s not answering the superdelegates question at all; he’s answering the “Why Iowa and New Hampshire?” question. Which is a good question, but not the one Mitchell asked.

So here we have two elite establishment figures — both superdelegates — butchering their explanations of the superdelegate system. Wasserman Schultz brazenly lying and patronizing into the bargain, and Reid not answering at all. I find that concerning, not to say creepy, because none of the reasons I can come up with for why they would do this are good, even starting with ignorance, which is highly unlikely.

So, from the history and purpose of the superdelegate system, and how party establishment figures are erasing both, let us turn to the state of play today. How many delegates are there, and how many superdelegates does each candidate have? From the Guardian:

The Democratic party’s nomination will ultimately be decided by more than 4,700 delegates at its nominating convention in the summer. Most of those delegates are allocated based on votes in each state’s primary or caucus. However, the party also assigns what are known as ‘superdelegates” – 700 or so people who aren’t elected by anyone during the primary process and are free to vote any way they want at the convention. They are made up of members of Congress and members of the Democratic National Committee – which is made up of much of the establishment that Sanders is implicitly running against.

Party elites who have announced who they are supporting have almost universally broken towards Clinton’s camp. A recent unofficial count put Clinton’s advantage at a staggering 355-14. And given how Sanders falls well outside the establishment compared with Obama in 2008, it’s hard to see how he can gain a significant number to make up for Clinton’s lead – meaning it’s more likely that superdelegates would at least want to tip the scales in favor of Clinton, even if he ends up winning more primaries.

So, how likely is it that Clinton could lose the popular vote, but be nominated because the superdelegates threw the nomination to her? Joshua Holland in Alternet argues very unlikely indeed:

[P]eople only become super delegates because they have a longstanding affinity for, and loyalty toward the Democratic Party. Some may be total hacks, but they’re party hacks, and that makes them unlikely candidates to completely rip apart the Democratic coalition for a generation or two, which would be the only possible result of these unelected delegates overturning the will of primary voters. They share a common sense of duty to the best interests of the institution.

Holland’s “they’re hacks, but they’re party hacks” is supported by many other more polite descriptions, some in this post: “Democratic elected officials and other party insiders,” “party leaders and elected officials,” “members of Congress and Senators and the governor of course,” “members of Congress and members of the Democratic National Committee,” and “the establishment.” And Holland’s answer, in essence, is “Win the primaries, and the superdelegates will come round.” [2] That appears to be Sanders’ view as well, as he explained on Face the Nation:

SANDERS: I think if we continue to do well around the country and if superdelegates – whose main interest in life is to make sure that we do not have a Republican in the White House – if they understand that I am the candidate and I believe that I am who is best suited to defeat the Republican nominee I think they will start coming over to us.

(And Sanders noted that he had just met with a few superdelegates Saturday evening.) History provides some support for this thesis. Clinton, in 2008, was ahead in superdelegates, but as the campaign progressed, they jumped the sinking ship to sail with the winner:


But is 2016 really 2008 all over again? If you’re an establishment type, it might be one thing to jump from Clinton to America’s (potentially) first black President, especially when he’s got Paul Volcker advising him and a proven afffinity for Goldman Sachs. It’s quite another thing to jump ship to a candidate promising “a political revolution.” And campaigns 2010 and 2014 prove the Democratic establishment has no problem losing. In any case, do “affinity” and “loyalty” really drive the Democratic superdelegates?[4] Could there be… other motivations? Prelimimary research from the Intercept’s Lee Fang suggests so. I’ve put a superdelegate tweetstorm from Fang in the form of a table.


Of course, this is just a small sample of the 700-odd superdelegates, but it’s certainly suggestive. It’s hard to imagine that the superdelegates would outright steal the nomination from Sanders if he won the popular vote by, say, 10%. But it’s certainly possible to imagine them demanding a high and not at all metaphorical price for their support if the Sanders margin of victory was much smaller. (What would Big Pharma give, for example, to avoid a Sanders victory, or cripple his single payer initiative?) Nate Silver gives the most benign prediction:

What you’re likely to see in close cases like these is competing claims to legitimacy, with Democratic party elites showing their bias by interpreting the evidence in favor of Clinton.

It’s hard to know the exact point at which such claims go from laughable to credible, but my guess is that it’s somewhere around the 5 percentage point gap… So superdelegates do provide some advantage to Clinton: They’ll break a true tie in her favor, and perhaps anything that can reasonably be described as a tie in her favor also. It’s just not the massive advantage implied by the delegate count so far.

(And at this point I remember that Clinton has also been sharing fundraising money with the State parties, and Sanders small contributions have not been devoted to that, so a lot of those superdelegates may feel honor-bound to reciprocate for their walking around money. And I also remember that when the DNC took Michigan delegates away from Clinton and gave them to Obama, they violated procedural rules to do so; like changing the agenda during lunch, IIRC. So these are people not necessarily concerned with the niceties.)

* * *

What to do if you’re a worried Sanders supporter, or a Democrat who doesn’t want Chicago 1968 all over again, or just a voter who likes to see systems in place that are fair? What if you’re concerned that winning the popular vote might not be enough? Bring pressure to bear, one would think. Therefore the first question is data: WikiPedia maintains a list of superdelegate names and districts. And MoveOn is running a petition drive that demands that superdelegates respect the popular vote. I’ve heard there’s an effort on Reddit, but I can’t find out. Other thoughts?


[1] Most of the memes on this quote propagate the idea that Wasserman Schultz is trying to suppress the grass roots; that’s undoubtedly true, but she cannot be quoted directly to that effect. Her story is that she’s trying to protect the grass roots, and as we’ve seen, she’s sticking to it.

[2] Meaning, of course, that there’s no reason for the superdelegates to exist in the first place!

[3] At least Sanders frames his answer in terms of “interest.”

[4] When I hear words like “loyalty” and “affilliation,” a tear comes to my eye, undoubtedly, but I’m also reminded of the old saying: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. jrs

      I really think the question is *IF* Sanders got majorities everywhere, and let’s say great majorities like in New Hampshire, would the delegates DARE to defy democracy in such an obvious way. Of course if the race is too close to call or if Clinton appears (appears because there are all these caucus states for instance that aren’t democratic the way primaries are anyway!) to win the popular vote anyway, then never mind.

      If Sanders wins the popular vote by .001% and Hillary got the nomination, yes it would be unfair in terms of having a true democracy which we don’t. But it would also be somewhat laughable to pretend at that point there was some kind of movement for Sanders if he couldn’t even win the DEM PRIMARY by more than a sliver. At best you could say there are lots of people in this country that support Sanders but not much of a majority.

      1. Raj

        Imperfect/asymmetric information is a challenge for voters. If Hillary can continue to fool voters into thinking she has their best interests at heart, then she’ll either win outright or keep it close enough for the Superdelegates to bail her out.

        1. Bev


          Bernie Sanders 
on Google

          We need your help today!
          When you vote, report delegate counts from your caucuses and turnout from your precincts. https://votetracker.berniesanders.com/

          About those superdelegates:


          Hillary Clinton and the DNC’s Super Delegate Fraud.
The AP headline read: Super delegates Help Clinton Expand Her Lead Despite NH Loss.

          It was and is a complete fabrication. Another way of putting it would be fraud. Initiated by Clinton and the DNC and unfortunately aided and abetted by two ignorant AP reporters (and others like CNN) who didn’t know ( or maybe didn’t care) that they were being snookered and simply swallowed what was thrown at them. It would help if people who actually think they are reporters would check DNC rules regarding the use of super delegates. Especially since there has only been one time in the history of the Democratic party that super delegates ever cast a vote and that was 32 years ago in 1984. And even then it was to affirm the candidate who won the most pledged delegates in the primaries.


          So why is Hillary Clinton putting out the fiction that she is ahead on delegates even though she isn’t because of super delegates? Because she is being underhanded and so is the DNC run by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Obama’s hand picked chair of the DNC who are trying to build a phony aura of expectation and inevitability and the illusion that she will be the nominee and then if she doesn’t have the actual votes from the primary battles try and steal the nomination by using super delegates with Obama and Wasserman-Schultz driving the getaway car.

          The New York Times acting like the long arm of the law put their arm on Clinton in a recent editorial making it clear that super delegates can have no role in the outcome of the nomination which needs to be decided by whoever wins the most delegates in the primaries.

Make it clear that if Clinton can’t win honestly she is not going to win at all.


          NOTE: CNN is still showing super delegate totals for Clinton included with her pledged delegate totals that don’t actually exist and may never exist and for now and until the convention and they are cast, if ever, are pure fiction. John King is one of the worst offenders but so is Wolf Blitzer. The Sanders campaign needs to hold them and other media outlets accountable.


          If we reform, we have to do a very good job of it.

          Liberals have stopped snickering at Bernie Sanders’ (hugely popular) campaign

          A 12-Step Program to Save US Democracy

          By Mark Crispin Miller


      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Of course they can DARE defy because there is zero chance of Days of Rage, in 1968 we had a politically aware and morally functional electorate willing to get their heads bashed in to stop the institutional murder called The Vietnam War. Today (assuming we had an electorate who gave an actual damn about global murder in their name) people know it’s much too easy to be disappeared to Guantanamo-On-The-Hudson or get the rest of your life shut down for sending the wrong Tweet.

        1. BillC

          I fear you’ve identified the last nail in the coffin of American democracy. Between private information collection (credit bureaus, criminal history aggregators, etc.) and the security state, I think most folks recognize that the old idea of “reinventing yourself” is no longer possible. Feels to me like we’ve become the old DDR (East Germany), except the Internet takes the place of every third neighbor being a Stasi informer. Cheaper, more efficient! Go team!

          Barring genuine revolution, Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter may go down in American history as the last large citizen movements trying to stimulate democratic change via principled, nonviolent civil disobedience.

          1. jrs

            Yea I’m kind of on the fence about how big a force the police state is in keeping the status quo. The iron fist behind the velvet glove (the police state) of course exists and I acknowledge it and it may be historically important, as do lesser mechanisms of control like fear of the all this information making employment (i.e. survival) impossible for dissenters.

            But are improvements in every country only achieved by the willingness to endure if not necessarily inflict violence? I mean we don’t have a workers paradise almost anywhere (cuba?). Capitalism yet rules the day most everywhere including Bernie Sander’s ideal countries. But why is the U.S. so F-ed up that we can’t even have those social safety net concessions they at least get in other countries? If the iron fist of undisguised state repression so much more brutal here: and if so why? I also have a hard time blaming right wing useful idiots for the problem, as the Trumpenproletariat don’t actually have any real power.

            1. Andrew Watts

              But why is the U.S. so F-ed up that we can’t even have those social safety net concessions they at least get in other countries?

              What do you expect? The country is full of staunch Calvinists who believe that the rich are blessed by God and their wealth is a sign of His favor. While the poor must be deserving of their fate.

              These beliefs were reinforced by the fact our country has possessed a high level of class mobility. Nor was it a product of a feudal aristocracy.

              1. neo-realist

                These beliefs were reinforced by the fact our country has possessed a high level of class mobility.

                We used to have high levels of class mobility, not anymore–high college costs, de-industrialization, and globalization have helped to nail the coffin shut on that for most Americans. Yet, many still think their class mobility lies in becoming the next TV reality star or the next Powerball winner.

                1. Andrew Watts

                  True. It’s both the how and why Occupy Wall Street got started. Also why Sanders and Trump are currently leading in the polls.

                  I gotta admit though I’m open to the possibility that lottery winners are favored by the Random Number Generator gods. Usually I keep that superstitious claptrap locked down.

                  1. Carla

                    Democrats get what Democrats deserve. If you don’t like it, get out of the party.

                    The two most toxic, dangerous corporations in the country are the Republican and Democrat parties.

            2. BillC

              Question: But are improvements in every country only achieved by the willingness to endure if not necessarily inflict violence?

              Answer: Don’t know about “every country” but the civil rights movement and opposition to the vietnam war are the only two cases in my lifetime in the USofA that I remember that forced substantial change in an augured-in position of the ruling elite. I’m rooting for Bernie’s democratic revolution, but those examples suggest the answer is “yes.”

            3. templar555510

              I think the answer to your question ‘But why is the U.S. so F-ed up that we can’t even have those social safety net concessions they at least get in other countries ? ‘ is the U.S. never made the transition to any sort of social democracy; the tipping point ,assuming there was one, was probably somewhere between 1968 and 1973, but since then – no chance. Sadly we in Europe who have experienced in our lifetimes what used to be rather quaintly called a ‘ mixed economy ‘ have also seen this start to erode following the American model ; hence the American neoliberal hegemony . Politicians in Europe for the most part are ignorant of the realities of the economic and social state of the U.S. in the present century and cling still to an outmoded Hollywoodesque version of American society . My American son-in-law -a final year resident in neurosurgery – paid a visit recently to a National Health Service ( that is public ) hospital in the UK and was amazed to see the use robotic high – tech equipment the like of which is unknown in the U.S. , but the perception of what is on offer in in the U.S. is that it must be more advanced than here because you have a for-profit system of healthcare.

        2. steelhead23

          Party loyalty. First, I want to encourage lefties and socialists to read a bit of the Sanders-bashing over at CounterPunch. A foundational complaint is that Mr. Sanders pledged to support the Democratic Party nominee, that is, to support Hillary if she is the nominee. Remembering ’68, many see this as an abandonment of “the cause.” However, being one of the two parties’ nominees is the only way to become president as the system is currently structured. I support Sanders’ commitment to the party only so long as the candidate with the majority of committed delegates wins the nomination. If, as seems possible, the idiots running the party give the nomination to Hillary after Bernie wins the committed delegate race, then he should denounce the process and run as an independent. And, as July looms, I would encourage Bernie to let the party leaders know his intention to do so. While the party apparatchiks clearly want Hillary, the specter of splitting the vote and having a Republican in the WH would be quite illuminating. They’d cave.

      3. berned-out-hippy

        Well, certainly party primaries needn’t be democratic (though states may legislate on that); they certainly were not for some time; in my view, a party’s business is a party’s business, and I would prefer that the state not formally entangle itself with party organizations. It seems absurd to me that I might have a say in the Republican primary as someone affiliated otherwise.

    2. KMA

      Yeah because her having over 1 million more popular votes than he does doesn’t make a difference, she’s winning both popular and delegates.

  1. polecat

    Might as well ask “has the moon turned to green cheese”!! …….

    the DNC is corrupt………to……..the………core !

    1. KMA

      So now you’re saying the DNC rigged the popular vote? she has over 1 million more popular votes than he does!

  2. polecat

    They can now take their place in the Hall of Shame, right along with the so-called republicans!

    Have them all be tried under Rico, and if found guilty, let hang…..to dry….

    under a hot sun

  3. EndOfTheWorld

    Another way to look at it is it’s deliberate sabotage of the Democratic Party. I’ve always believed the only hope for the US is through the Democratic Party. But with this “third way”, NAFTA, GATT, TPP stuff there is no hope there either. To her corporate masters it’s OK if Hillary gets elected. It’s even better if a Republican gets elected. The important thing is to stop Bernie from getting elected. The establishment dems really don’t want the Democratic Party to win. They want to personally get rich.

    1. jrs

      Maybe the only hope for this country is the complete demolition of the Democratic party. And maybe they will even comply! If Sanders won significantly and they appointed Hillary, that looks like a suicide pact to me. Selling them the rope to hang themselves with perhaps.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I was trying to think what the equivalent of a “scorched earth” strategy is for a firm that wishes to avoid a hostile takeover. A “poison pill” doesn’t meet the case here, because denying the vote winner the nomination would destroy huge company balance sheet.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I don’t know. Before we get to that point, the HRC faction still has a lot of cards to play. Sooner rather than later, I expect to hear the “Bernie is not a real Democrat” meme get serious play by adding to it the “we don’t really know if he has the best interests of D’s at heart (he might be a plant!).”

    1. Vatch

      Okay, I had to look that up. Apparently, PUMA is “People United Means Action”, a political action committee that opposed the Democratic establishment in 2008. Supposedly, the group lost their status as a political action committee in 2011 for their failure to meet reporting requirements. Or maybe there was another reason.

      1. oho

        party unity my ass. (unless your post is on the cheeky side).

        ya, puma is a bit on the obscure/non-intuitive side.

          1. Vatch

            I looked at urbandictionary dot com and wikipedia; wikipedia provided the plausible looking political action committee name. Some acronyms have too many potential meanings!

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            That’s not exactly a deep dive. I was a Clinton supporter in 2008, but never joined PUMA, in essence because I’m not good at joining. Looking back, I notice that key figures aren’t mentioned (like Riverdaughter, who still runs an excellent blog), and to me the causes are left out: There really was chicanery at the Rules and Bylaws Committee over the Michigan delegates, and I’ve alluded to Texas caucus fraud as well. So there was a strong sense of having been wronged by the party, and of an almost equal force being erased from the map. And then, of course, Clinton went in and did whatever deal she did with Obama to get State, so her name wasn’t even placed in nomination. So that was that.

            As a movement, PUMA was entirely without establishment backing and had almost no immune system at all, and was subject to horrific GamerGate-level assault from all sides, including and most especially misogynist Obama supporters, but also including trolls, moles, Republican operatives, and assorted crazies.

            1. allan

              Actually, Riverdaughter is mentioned; in fact, quoted:

              Look, you people of small, parochial political thoughts, here is your reality. Hillary Clinton is not your enemy. She is the strongest politician in the country. Elizabeth Warren is not your savior. She is a less than first term senator who will need the financial backing of people who you do not like in order to become president. One of these people has been learning for the past 22 years how to deal with Republicans; the other will be at the mercy of whoever buys the Oval Office for her.

              I had to reread that several times to make sure I had the antecedents right.

              1. jrs

                So we are not supposed to vote on POLICY (at least in as far as we know it from campaign promises, and voting record, and where the money is coming from!) but merely on … uh I don’t know … who is better at politicking, who is better at The Art of the Deal ™, on some type of smoozing and negotiating, even if their policies are often undesirable, and they are taking money from unsavory sources that would tend to corrupt their policies.

                Boy do we need direct democracy in this fake democracy!

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                I was looking at the history part. Thanks for the correction.

                Adding, if Hillary were still driving around in Scooby Doo talking at small venues, she’d be a credible populist heroine; it would be the 21st Century equivalent of a whistlestop tour. But n-o-o-o-o-!!!!!!

  4. TarheelDem

    Rigged for the establishment since 1973. The new name for the “smoke-filled rooms” in conventions prior to 1972.

    1. Ché Pasa


      Jeeze, are we supposed to believe that there’s anyone who’s paid attention to politics who doesn’t know it’s a rigged game? The Dem superdelegate issue has come up in primary after primary; but Rs have a no less rigged system.

      We the voters will be allowed to choose between the dreadful and the worse — largely chosen for us by Our Betters. That’s the way it is; that’s the way it’s been for as long as I can remember.

  5. fresno dan

    So long story short, the whole thing is a charade….
    cleverly crafted, subtly designed, and intricately composed, to make you do what we want.

    We control your fate, but we pretend that we don’t

    1. sierra7

      The American people control their own fate……(Some know this, some don’t)
      It’s just a matter of how far they are going to be pushed.

  6. bob

    Jefferson and Washington? When black people and women couldn’t vote?

    The prez, in those days, wasn’t elected. He was nominated by the house, who’s members were picked by the senate.

    Men, only, could vote for senators. That was it.

      1. bob

        I may have gotten the senate and house mixed up, but other than that, what is wrong?

        When did ‘the people’, meaning all of the people get to vote for prez? 1920.

      2. bob

        For instance-

        “At the time of its creation, the Constitution did not explicitly give citizens an inherent right to vote.[15] Rather, it provided that those qualified to vote in elections for the largest chamber of a state’s legislature may vote in Congressional (House of Representatives) elections.”


        But, getting into THAT history….

        It was originally the house that appointed the senators, then the those two houses, together, by state, would vote for prez.

        Lots of amendments…But the original article one is pretty clear in its intent- not to allow voting, in any from, for most people. Moneyed or propertied WASP males given some bit of agency.

  7. grayslady

    The superdelegates are only part of the problem. The 2008 election on the Democrat side was one of the ugliest I’ve ever seen. Remember Gloria Allred, California elected delegate for Hillary Clinton, wearing tape over her mouth to signal that she had been gagged from speaking with other California Hillary delegates or objecting to the California Democrat party overriding the primary votes to drag Obama across the line? That happened in state after state, where Hillary’s delegates were told they had to vote for Obama or else, even though the voting public had elected the various delegates in caucuses and primaries. A lot of former Dems became Independents after the Dems refused to allow delegates to honor their responsibility of at least having a first round roll call vote to express the constituents wishes before considering whether or not to switch to another candidate. Hillary was pretty much forced to release all her state-elected delegates in order to avoid a major split in the party.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Just for the record, Team Red also stole it from Ron Paul, with shenanigans from not counting all votes to silencing roll calls. In Maine they called it at the wire before the last Paul-strong districts could be counted, in North Carolina they let the Romney people stand up and declare “North Carolina casts 24 votes for Romney” but prevented let the Paul people from standing up and saying “North Carolina casts 44 votes for Ron Paul”.

        1. jrs

          Yea there was lots of corruption with the Romney machine. But caucuses do seem part of the problem. We still don’t really know what Sanders popular vote count really was in Iowa. Would it even be possible to do that kind of Romney rigging with a primary (rather than caucus) system without super delegates or vote rigging? It would at least be more obvious what went on.

  8. RP

    We know who the citizenry wants.

    The question for our “betters” is:

    Sanders ’16


    pitchforks and torches

    Your call, oligarchy.

  9. Vatch

    Many super delegates are also elected officials. If your Senator, Governor, Representative, or whatever, is a super delegate who has endorsed HIllary Clinton, let him or her know about your displeasure. Lambert’s article has a link to the list of super delegates and their endorsements.

    1. polecat

      right…like MY state Reps & Senators give a flying f#ck what I ,or anyone else thinks, who doesn’t participate in quid pro quo !!!

      1. polecat

        it’s like those stupid internet memes :

        ‘contact your senators & reps using this weird trick’

        that’s how ridiculous this all is

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          First, get your concepts straight. Corruption isn’t a quid pro quo. That’s the legal definition, but not all corruption is criminal. Corruption (says Teachout) “self-serving use of public power for private ends.” Know your enemy!

          Second, letters to CalPERS officials did affect policy; we have the evidence right here at NC. So your counsel of despair is wrong on the facts. (Of course, a personal letter is very different from a contact form, let alone an online petitition: Far more effective.)

          1. helmholtz watson

            your work on private equity and pressuring CALPERS is impressive and deserves tremendous praise.

      2. Vatch

        You’re absolutely right, most of them don’t care what their constituents think. But a few have to care, at least a little bit, because they won the previous election by just a slim margin. Those politicians need to keep their base happy.

        I think there’s also value in pestering the politicians with relatively safe jobs. If Sanders does well in the next several primaries, some of the Clinton super delegates might reduce their level of support. A few might even withdraw their support altogether. I think a lot of Congress critters were stunned by the level of public interest in the TPP; maybe we can surprise them again.

        Of course, none of this is relevant for those super delegates who do not have elective government jobs.

      3. Yves Smith

        No, that is NOT correct! Particularly on that state official level.

        NC readers letters got California state Treasurer John Chiang to sponsor private equity legislation. This came via e-mail from an expert advising Chiang on the bill the day the story came out:

        …met today with Grant Boyken, one of the treasurer’s senior staff people, to discuss the legislation proposal and offer our suggestions for how to draft the bill. What I wanted to share with you is that, at the start of the conversation, Boyken was explicit that the treasurer decided to pursue legislation because he is tired of having nothing to say in response to the steady flow of letters/emails from Naked Capitalism readers demanding to know what he’s doing to keep the state pension funds from being ripped off in private equity.

        Chiang is a state-wide official in the biggest state in the US. State reps represent even smaller constituencies than state senators.

        They count on your apathy. Don’t support the bad status quo by playing along.

      4. Steve H.

        Please take an hour or two to read Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, who have specific details about how an organized constituency can make an impact in a pragmatic environment.

        With reference to Yves comment at 5:11, Margaret Mead’s words ring true: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Great suggestion. I’m only familiar with Plunkitt’s concept of “honest graft” — which our current crop of politicians most definitely do not practice — so this will be a welcome read.

          1. SomeCallMeTim

            Plunkitt also said “politics ain’t beanbag”, which I take to be a different version of ‘sausage making’, and called the progressives of his day ‘morning glories’ for their lack of staying power.

  10. Yves Smith

    You do not appear to have read the post at all, given that:

    1. It had a prominent chart showing that superdelegates switched from Clinton (the “established leader”) to Obama (the outsider) and

    2. Lambert argued why this is not likely to happen in 2016.

    The superdelegate system is not about protecting its established leaders. Obama was not an “established leader”. As Lambert suggests, the superdelegate system is much more about preserving the economic interests of the individual superdelegates which in turn are a function of who their patrons are….and in may cases , it’s industries they represent.

    And you are also off base in your remark about 2008. This website did not cover that election.

    1. EmilianoZ

      Obama was a fake outsider. Is Sanders also a fake? If he is, then the superDs will certainly vote for him.

      1. cwaltz

        There were clues that Obama was a moderate Republican before he was even elected…..the guy said he wanted to govern like Reagan…… he was given political cover to vote against women’s rights by planned parenthood…….there are no such signs for Senator Sanders……..he’s been consistently fighting for a single payer system for years and he’s been talking about income inequality for at least as long.

      2. Yves Smith

        I “approved and replied” to a comment in moderation but the comment did not appear. That’s never happened before. I’ll approve the comment (again) but this reply is now almost certainly in the wrong place.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    I don’t think any of this was ever supposed to matter. Now that it does, these gibberish explanations reflect the confusion and panic at having lost control of the situation.

    hillary was supposed to be the overwhelming favorite. It was supposed to be a historic “coronation.” She had history, her resume and the famously popular bill on her side. Not to mention ALL the women. She was the “inevitable” nominee.

    I think Bernie was just “allowed” on the ticket so she would have some one to debate. To bounce all her fabulous ideas off of and to showcase her experience. To hone her debating skills. To put on a good show. Remember Bernie “the sheepdog?”

    The “superdelegates” were just supposed to be icing on the coronation cake. An overwhelming show of solid support.

    But then Bernie caught FIRE. The best laid plans……

    We talk a lot about the bubble in which the DC political establishment exists. I think this is a demonstration of that writ large. wasserman-schultz and the rest of her cronies massively misjudged the mood of the electorate. Hard as it is to believe, it seems they really ARE that out of touch.

    And now what was supposed to be a walk in the park seems to have turned into a visit to madeline albright’s special place in hell. And they are desperately groping for a Plan B or a plausible retrofit of Plan A.

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

    1. Lexington

      We talk a lot about the bubble in which the DC political establishment exists. I think this is a demonstration of that writ large. wasserman-schultz and the rest of her cronies massively misjudged the mood of the electorate. Hard as it is to believe, it seems they really ARE that out of touch.

      James Galbraith has suggested that in any political system the elite are dependent on “feedback loops” to gauge popular sentiment and, if they are wise, modulate policy so that it does stray too far beyond the bounds of the consensus supported by the polity. Political crises tend to occur when the feedback loops break down and the elite becomes isolated from the polity at large, leading to an ever widening perception gap between rulers and ruled, and eventually to such widespread frustration and alienation that the underclass launches an attack on the legitimacy of the system itself.

      I think it’s an elegant way of conceptualizing political revolution both in the abstract and in the context of Western elites’ current crisis of legitimacy.

      The big tell is that for the most part those elites don’t even realize there is a crisis.

    2. inhibi

      Who would have thought that years and years of politicians blatantly lying would ever come to haunt them?

      Especially in the Internet Era.

      I think it has dawned on more than a few that the difference between politicians, lobbyists, bankers and the many is just the degree of sociopathic behavior. AND that in most cases, they are supremely ignorant.

    3. flora

      I agree. People want Wall St.’s predations reined in, want crooks jailed, want abusive financial practices regulated, want jobs to stay in the US. Sanders is talking about all that on MSM. (MSM hates it.) Now individuals can see they aren’t alone in their call for better regulations, real enforcement of existing regulations, they aren’t fringe or uninformed. Whether Sanders wins or loses the nomination, that genie can’t be put back in the bottle. The electorate has seen itself.

    4. Arizona Slim

      Checking in from Tucson.

      Katniss, you have it exactly right when you say that Bernie caught FIRE. Indeed he has. Last October, he spoke in an outdoor amphitheater. And more than 13,000 people showed up.

      That was just Tucson.

      Sanders also spoke in Phoenix last July. More than 11,000 people at that event.

      I attended both the Tucson and the Phoenix rallies, and believe you me, I have NEVER seen anything like them in AZ. Ever. To put it mildly, the atmosphere was electric.

    5. GlobalMisanthrope

      I think you’re exactly right. Their myopia, arrogance and incompetence are breathtaking, really.

      I do worry, though, about what comes after their comeuppance. Fingers crossed that the fickle citizenry can find a way to stand together somehow and forge some real solutions. Otherwise, there will be hell to pay.

  12. Lexington

    Didn’t take long for the trolls to come out, though not top post this time. Must be the Monday morning blues.

    It doesn’t matter how long the rules have been in place. What matters is that if the Democratic establishment steals the nomination for Clinton it will tear the mask from the face of nomination process and reveal that at the end of the day the pretense of consulting the party membership is a fraud and party insiders are manipulating the whole process from behind the scenes. What is the point of even having a primary contest if the party establishment can deny the will of the party’s rank and file in favour of their preferred candidate?

    As for getting the rules changed, good luck with that. The rules were created by the party establishment and exist to shield them from grassroots pressure – for example, from grassroots pressure to change the rules.

    The independent voters issue is a red herring. The Democrats allow independents to vote in the primaries because they want and need independent votes to win the election, since at over 40% of the electorate independents are the largest voting block. If the Democrats narrowed their base to the 31% who are registered Democrats they obviously could never win a majority.

    1. ek hornbeck

      As top post, thank you for the courtesy. I’m well known to lambert and Yves and the only places that think I’m a troll are the now defunct OpenLeft and the soon to be defunct GOS where no doubt there is much wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments.

      1. Lexington

        I’m afraid there has been some confusion ek. My post was in reply to a different one that has since disappeared (I think the poster was MC) that appeared a few down from yours – hence my comment about it NOT being top post (it’s uncanny how often the trolly ones seem to pounce on a new article as soon as it is published).

        It would make a lot more sense of the original post was above it….

        1. ek hornbeck

          Nothing to be sorry about. I lurk NC constantly because I respect it, and I rarely comment. I am totally amused by yours which is obviously not directed at me. I don’t want you to waste a minute thinking I’m offended, I think we’d get along famously (I sometimes do the NYC meetups).

  13. hemeantwell

    doesn’t want Chicago 1968 all over again

    Well, maybe they will get one all the same. I agree with Lambert, the party leadership sees Sanders as a full bore political economic threat and will not support him unless polling shows the R candidate decisively beating HRC.

    We’ve already established the option of staying with friends in Philadelphia.

    1. Watt4Bob

      … the party leadership sees Sanders as a full bore political economic threat and will not support him unless polling shows the R candidate decisively beating HRC.

      I have a bad feeling that we’re going to get HRC regardless, because the DNC’s attitude that “it’s her turn” trumps any misgivings on the part of us ‘retards’.

      But hey, look on the bright side, we won’t have to wonder if the republicans stole the election via electronic fraud, if the democrats throw it up-front by fielding a candidate who is so widely hated.

      1. jrs

        The R’s will probably be up to electronic fraud anyway. The term I like to use for how the system maintains itself is: massive parallel redundancy. Even if the R’s were polling vastly ahead of Hillary they would still rig the machines, because they can’t tolerate any risk of democracy breaking out anywhere. It’s about REDUNDANCY of control. It’s why the voting machines need backdoors even if they don’t plan to use them – just as a plan not even B but maybe C or D against democracy breaking out.

        1. neo-realist

          I’m wondering if R’s will eventually use electronic fraud to knock Trump out of the race? He is certainly reviled by the GOP elites as Sanders is by the Democratic ones.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Maybe I should do that. Philly’s a little hot in the summer, though. And IIRC they’ve located the convention at a stadium way the heck out in the middle of a wilderness of guard towers, and it will doubtless be surrounded by miles and miles of barbed wire, guard towers, with drone and StingRay overflights.

      Philly is, of course, a Democratic city, so run by the party that was so instrumental in the 17-city military paramilitary crackdown of Occupy….

  14. MichaelC

    Hillary’s superdelegate advantage is understated by a factor of 2 I think.

    There are `700 up for grabs, ~350 have pledged to HRC , ~ 350 unpledged. I’d expect most of these will do as the DNC dictates, but we won’t know till the convention, unless they each declare after their respective state primary/caucus.

    If Iowa and NH are precedents, Hillary will steadily and stealthily pick up the remaining unpledged supers if the state races remain close.

    If it remains tied going into the convention Bernie’s going to have to go the third party route taking his D base along with him.

    If only Hillary had remained a Republican, she could have trumped Trump in the primaries. Now she’ll have to have a go at him from her foster party perch. Trump hating Rs will defect to Hillary.

    1. cwaltz

      IMO Bernie isn’t going to make a third party run. He originally said that he ran as a Democrat as a practical matter and I don’t believe that he’d see the barrier as smaller months out in the process.

      If he loses people will have to choose another third party or will have to write him in.

      1. MichaelC

        ‘If he loses the D nomination by a whisker, what then’, is the key question.

        It’s probably too early in the race to speculate, but if his momentum holds his revolution has staying power. What form will it take?

        I’d love to have some insight into his contingency planning.

        1. jrs

          I think people need to vote people who stand for the kind of things Bernie does locally everywhere they can. If he loses, if he wins, regardless. We need not one Bernie Sanders at the top, but thousands of Bernie Sanders clones in positions of lesser power below (clones may not be the best choice of words, we need individuals, but those who stand for the right things, and some may be even more radical than Bernie of course … if it’s Seattle …).

        2. redleg

          In my case, plan B is Jill Stein or equivalent. There’s no way I’m voting for the corporate sock puppets, and hopefully one or both parties will implode.

  15. jo6pac

    The superdelegates are those that know more than us voting simpletons. They well save the republic by putting the queen hillabilly in the potus.

    I stopped believing anything the demodogs say a long time ago and the repugs there isn’t much good to say at all if anything good other than they’re fun to watch. This whole election cycle is getting more fun to watch now fat tony is dead. Pass the popcorn and seat back with another glass of whine;)

  16. Carolinian

    In fairness it should be pointed out that there’s nothing in the Constitution that says political parties have to pick their delegates by a democratic vote and it’s only in recent years that they have turned to primaries both as a promotional device and a means of winnowing out the unpopular. The real action before was all at the convention where the horsetrading took place. The party expressed its principles through the party platform and the job of the nominee was simply to get elected and carry those principles out.

    All of which is to say the bones of this antique system live on in an age when greater communication and more widespread education make direct forms of democracy a more obvious choice. The best Sanders can do is make a moral case for giving him the nom should he be the popular winner. The Democratic poobahs are then fully entitled to do whatever they want even if it means the sundering and eventual destruction of the party itself. Given the revolving door they may not care. Perhaps we shouldn’t either.

    I do think Sanders had now made enough of an effort that we can cast aside the sheepdog theory. And the harder he fights the more some of us cynics are starting to feel the Bern.

  17. crittermom

    Some staunch Republican friends I’ve spoken with like what Bernie has to say. As one put it, “If I weren’t a Republican, I’d vote for him.”
    (Huh? I’ve always thought it should be the best person for the job so refuse to tie myself to one party in such a way).
    Others have said they hate Trump the man but intend to vote for him only because they want a businessman rather than a politician, despite the fact they like what Bernie has to say.

    Maybe Trump, with his unbridled temper & mouth, will just implode before the election?
    One can only hope…

    But then, that could really mess with the Superdelegates if those folks came to support Bernie, couldn’t it? Should be interesting.

    1. ambrit

      What should be revealing is who is picked for Veep on both tickets. (The fall back positions in case of ‘regime change’ vectors at work.)

  18. Helmholtz Watson

    Interesting article but what’s the point? This isn’t a democracy and any one who thinks it is, is deluded. Elections are charades designed to give the illusion of democracy. It’s actually the world’s most sophisticated form of elite control where elections serve to legitimatize illegitimate government. It’s actually quite clever.

    This presidential election cycle is quite interesting because the public isn’t following the script crafted by the elites and two candidates have emerged who are not supposed to be there. The super delegate system is only one of several tools the elites have to derail non establishment candidates. In all likelihood Sanders and Trump will get knocked off along the way and we will end up with the two candidates backed by competing groups of oligarchs as is the norm.

    My advice to people if that happens is: don’t vote! Voting under such conditions only serves to legitimize what is really a sham democracy. Cynical? yes, but also realistic.

    Plus if you really want to be honest about the whole thing, the founding fathers never intended for the public to be involved in presidential elections or senators for that matter.

    1. Vatch

      don’t vote! Voting under such conditions only serves to legitimize what is really a sham democracy.

      When people don’t vote, the oligarchs win. Starting in 1904, the voter turnout in U.S. Presidential elections has always been lower than 70%. On a few occasions it has been under 50% (1920, 1924, 1996; only 50.3% in 2000). In the off year elections, the turnout is usually even lower. Remember when the turnout in Ferguson, MO, rose to a resoundingly high 29%, and some people though that was a success? Hah! So millions of Americans are already taking your advice.

      Nobody cares when people “protest” by not voting, least of all the oligarchs. But the Powers That Be do get worried when people actually vote, especially when they vote for non-establishment candidates in the primary elections. And if our preferred candidates fail to be nominated, then we can vote for Third Party candidates in the general election.

      As for the founding fathers, well, that was more then 200 years ago. We have the right to modify some of their prescriptions.

      1. Helmholtz Watson

        You are missing the point! The oligarchs always win, even when you vote, because the whole thing is effectively rigged. 95% of the deciding is decided before people cast any ballots. Only certain people are allowed the run and then only certain of those are give the resources to run effectively. Furthermore, the public is subject to massive propaganda and disinformation campaigns waged by elite interests in support of the chosen candidates. That’s the brilliance of the system; people like you keep believing in the system and talking about voting as if it’s some type of legitimate democracy. It’s the most sophisticated form of corruption in the world and it’s so sophisticated most people don’t even recognize it so they dutifully keep voting in hopes of making a change.

        I am happy to say that elite control of this presidential election cycle isn’t going as the elites would like but I am quite sure that they will prevail in the end. I desperately want to be wrong but probably won’t be.

        You people are naive and living in a dream world. You need to deal with system as it is and not as you want to believe it is. If we end up two establishment candidates and if there was a mass movement to not vote it would send a shudder through the system. That would do more to delegitimize the system than you realize. Protest movements and change succeed by not following the rules set out by their oppressors.

        1. flora

          If there was a mass movement to not vote it would be the GOP’s dream come true. They’d pop the champaign corks. (unless it was the GOP not voting. that would send them into appoplexy.) See GOP driven voter suppression laws recently enacted in many states.

          1. helmholtz watson

            Of course I am not suggesting that only one side abstains from voting; that would be seriously daft. It’s would be a mass, non-partisan movement, where everyone abstains. It’s actually a one party system with two factions. Chomsky and Vidal have been making that argument for a long time. The republican masses are as disgusted with the system as their democratic counterparts.

            1. flora

              It’s too much fun watching the RNC and the DNC go nuts because people are voting in large numbers – for the ‘wrong’ candidate. ha.

              1. Helmholtz Watson

                yes, so far so good, it is driving them nuts and sending a message. Let’s hope it continues. My fear is that it won’t continue and we will be left with the “safe” choices, which is where the don’t vote idea kicks in.

    2. flora

      Thanks so much for advising apathetic resignation. And determinism. Determinism is always a good way to undermine the question “What is to be done?”
      I guess you’re just being practical.
      Aspiring for something better and fairer is never practical.
      Rosa Parks should have just given up that seat on the bus. /s

      1. Steven D.

        And of course the practical thing is to have someone who can work with Republicans, like Hillary. Not someone who will go to war with them.

        Nonvoting. What an awesome display of power. Yeah. That’s the ticket. I think I’ll just stay home and watch teevee. That’ll scare the powers that be.

        1. helmholtz watson

          The establishment loves people like you! Yup, just keep on voting for the people they allow you to vote for. That’s just what you have been doing for decades and it’s why they can continue to count on you?

          1. flora

            Sanders and Trump are gaining serious traction and a ‘concerned’ poster shows up telling readers to not vote. What a co-inky-dink.

            1. Helmholtz Watson

              Maybe I am not being clear; buy all means vote as long as you have “real” choices; not false choices in the form of the candidates served up by the existing power structure.

              1. jrs

                You are being perfectly clear in the original post, maybe less in explanations later on:

                “In all likelihood Sanders and Trump will get knocked off along the way and we will end up with the two candidates backed by competing groups of oligarchs as is the norm.

                My advice to people if that happens is: don’t vote!”

                That statement is really not ambiguous, it could be flowcharted easily enough, it’s a simple IF statement: *IF* Sanders and Trump are out (however one interprets “knocked off” – I interpret it as they quit the campaign) *THEN* don’t vote.

              2. marym

                If there are no real choices, vote or don’t vote, but if people are going to put time, effort, commitment, and courage into organizing a mass movement, it ought to be for something more substantial than not-voting.

            2. Helmholtz Watson

              Look, all this “voting” has given us what we have today; one of the world’s most corrupt and dysfunctional political/economic systems. Voting is in fact the source of the problem. The entire electoral system is integral to the corruption so the idea to keep on voting strikes me as stunningly naive. I am the first to admit that things aren’t going according the establishment playbook this cycle and that is very encouraging. Occupy Wall Street, The Tea Party, Sanders, Trump, et al are all signs that the natives are restless. Let’s see where this is at in a few months.

              My only point is that the democratic process has been the fundamental source of the problem and the failure to recognize this is strange. The elites absolutely want you to keep voting, for the candidates they serve up for you. Why go along with this?

              1. Tony

                I am in agreement with all of your statements regarding the corruption of our election process and our dysfunctional ESTABLISHMENT political system. However not voting in large numbers is already happening as turnout has dropped decade after decade and it ISNT shaking the system. Indifference and cynicism is what they want, that’s playing into their hand. The best thing to do if Sanders doesn’t win the nomination is to vote for the Green party candidate since the Green party stands for many of the grassroots issues Bernie does. Rather than no vote at all, you still have a vote against the establishment.

      2. SomeCallMeTim

        Almost seems as if you’re waiting for something, someone. Maybe Waiting for God…

        Enjoy your carrot, or turnip.

      3. helmholtz watson

        The point is that Rosa Parks broke the rules! She didn’t stand outside whining about how unfair things were or write a letter to her congressman and then dutifully go back to here assigned seat.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author


      1) This election the public isn’t following the script crafted by the elites


      2) Don’t vote!

      “Look! That may be an opening! Be sure to let it close!”

      1. helmholtz watson

        yes, don’t vote under the presumption that we end up with two establishment candidates. If you get Sanders and Trump by all means everyone should vote as it would be a total repudiation of establishment control.

        1. cwaltz

          Sanders isn’t an establishment candidate and most ballots give you the ability to write in a candidate.

          The reality is people who don’t vote aren’t really “sticking it to the establishment” anymore than someone who chooses to vote for the non establishment candidate that doesn’t win.

          Your strategy isn’t really better if it can’t possibly result in something different than an establishment candidate winning. At least with a write in campaign there’s a remote possibility that what you are advocating for can actually win.

    4. tegnost

      Write in. Not voting is dumb, and not voting also “legitimize(‘s) a sham democracy” Go jump in the lake with your realism and honesty, and then just give up and sink.

      1. Helmholtz Watson

        Take your naive optimism and keep beating your heads against the wall until you are unconscious. You people really don’t get it and can’t accept reality. Once the elites have their hands on all the levels of power they control the system and they won’t relinquish control without some type of fight.
        So keep on voting, that’s just what they want you to do.

        David Graeber understand this very well and has written about it. Maybe you will listen to someone like him.

        1. flora

          So finish your thought. What should we do instead of voting? Should it be voting + ? Or no voting and no plan for anything else? Finish your thought.

          1. helmholtz watson

            Don’t vote period; not within the existing two party system. There needs to be a new political movement that threatens the status quo. Participation within the the current two party democratic system is the crux of the problem; our democratic process is the source of the corruption, it’s quite literally what facilitates and orchestrates the corruption.

            Simply abstain until a new movement arises. If voter turnout dropped to 10% and some new movement was being formed at the grassroots level you be amazed as what would start to change. Of course the system is rigged against any third party since the two parties write the rules at the state level governing third party participation in any elections.

            That’s what I don’t understand about people; can’t anyone recognize the system for what it is? It’s a two entity cabal. They may appear to fight like cats and dogs but one needs to look at what they agree on which is most everything that matters to elite interests. Take one very simple example; carried interest tax treatment. All you people who think the democrats are the good guys fighting the fight for the little guy are deluded. Neither party will go near that issue.

            1. claudia kimball

              Why is everyone so contentious about just the voicing of this idea? As a hypothetical it would
              feel so great if we could shun them as if they didn’t exist at all and begin again..though , I don’t suppose they’d just go away.

            2. snodog

              I love your idea of not voting and the push back is a little weird. We all know the machines are rigged. It is self delusion. If they had an election and no one voted it would send a huge message. They would be on TV the next day talking about how to improve our system so people voted.

              1. Helmholtz Watson

                Thanks Snodog and Claudia; most people are brainwashed and can’t process unconventional thoughts. They desperately need orthodoxy as a frame of reference. To keep participating in a rigged system is self delusion.

  19. kimsarah

    This helps explain why the chosen ones — the party establishment — are so freaking cocky all the time.
    If Bernie keeps doing well, but falls short because of Hillary’s superdelegate trump card, could Bernie run as an independent? What would be the deadline to declare an independent candidacy and appear on the November ballot?
    Trump is already talking about doing this due to his renewed disgust with the RNC.
    I realize Bernie’s path to the White House would be clearer if he simpy wins the Democratic nomination outright, and that he must have been fully aware of this superdelegate issue when he declared as a Democrat.
    Bernie needs to be an option for us in November, one way or another — if for no other reason than to wreck the DNC and RNC’s plans and see the chosen ones break a sweat.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      And even if Sanders doesn’t win he needs:

      1) A vote on the convention floor

      2) A speech to the convention (with no vetting)

      In other words, everything that didn’t happen in 2008 at Denver when the Clintons — allow me to speculate freely here — cut the deal with Obama that Hillary got State and 2016 support, in exchange for burying the Texas Caucus fraud affidavits and Clinton dynasty support in 2008 and 2012.

  20. notabanker

    the fact that the spin doctors are already setting the narrative tells you they are going to use the delegates however they see fit, regardless of popular vote. Surely HRC’s hubris knows no bounds and she will say and do anything to secure the nomination.

    It will all come down to Trump if he secures the nomination. Will Sanders steal enough of Trump’s thunder with the disenfranchised to win, or will they believe HRC has enough demographics to beat him. It’s an interesting dilemma. I can see a case where on paper and at the polls HRC has the numbers to beat Trump, I can also see the case where subverting the popular vote to nominate HRC is exactly the juice that Trump will need to win.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      There are a lot of spin doctors out there and they spin in conflicted views.

      Sanders voters shouldn’t count the Super Tuesday chickens before they are hatched, basically.

  21. sharonsj

    People need to start bombarding their state’s super delegates with letters and emails, warning them of blow back if the convention is rigged. People may not get out of their chairs to protest, but if enough threaten to write in his name, in the event the super delegates throw the nomination to Hillary, they may think twice.

  22. Russell Scott Day/Founder of Transcendia

    It’s got so that I decided that there was no way I would vote for the Clintons. The gentleman who said Sanders ought run as an Independent if the nomination is stolen is right.

  23. I feel like a crazy person

    omg! I had no idea that James Madison was part of a secret Clintonista plot to steal the election from the ideologically pure Bernie Sanders – outsider candidate! He’s only been a Congressman or Senator for a few decades – not like those eeevill!! Clinton Washington insiders! Obviously Debbie Wasserman was a co-conspirator who traveled in time and worked with Madison to secretly insert a system of checks and balances into the the Constitution so that the power hungry Clintons could steal the 2016 Presidential election. Sure the same system kind of fucked her over in 2008 when she wasn’t awarded delegates in states where she won the popular vote and lost super-delegates that had previously had been pledged to her.

    omg – there are delegates?!? – that can happen?!? Why hasn’t anyone talked about this before in the mainstream media?!? Obviously that was just part of her plan to lull voters into complacency so she could arise again to steal the American presidency and implement her true desire for world domination and the spreading of evil. Concepts like “tyranny of the majority” are just Clintonista spin.

    I don’t know how I didn’t realize how fucked up, immoral and unfair politics and life could until Bernie Sanders and his supporters opened my eyes. It’s almost like history repeats itself over and over…

  24. Lambert Strether Post author

    Of course you’re aware that when the Constitution was written there were no parties, and it’s not self-evident why that logic would apply to parties anyhow.

    Can God make irony that’s too heavy for him or her to lift? The answer to that paradox, from your comment, is yes…..

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