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David Sirota Headshot

Local Pressure Builds On Superdelegates

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Above, you can watch a the local story that led the news last night here in Colorado - a local news story that is likely coming to your state as the Democratic National Convention approaches. What we have on our hands is a potential back room effort to use undemocratic "superdelegates" to anoint a Democratic presidential nominee - with many superdelegates potentially using their power in defiance of how their states and communities voted.

As a good example of what I'm talking about, consider what's going on here in Colorado. On February 5th, voters overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama in the caucuses. However, as Channel 2 News reports, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) has already endorsed Hillary Clinton and is refusing to say whether she will cast her superdelegate convention vote with Colorado voters, or for Hillary Clinton. DeGette refused to comment for Channel 2's story.

The question is whether politicians and party officials with superdelegate votes will be loyal to a fellow politician or loyal to small-d democracy. The history of the superdelegates, which I trace in my upcoming book The Uprising, is one that designed the superdelegates to thwart democracy.

In order to stop that this year, I have written that we need to start pressuring superdelegates to do what the Maine Democratic Party chairman did: pledge their superdelegate vote to whomever their voters support in primaries and caucuses.

You can bet this kind of story will be reported throughout the country - with the same kinds of issues popping up lots of places. Miles Mogulescu at the Huffington Post is starting a petition that you can sign to demand your superdelegates vote the way your state's voters voted. Go check it out here. Also, make sure to check out the Superdelegate Transparency Project.

UPDATE: Another interesting idea has been floated that superdelegates should all go with the candidate who won the most total delegates. This is certainly another way to do it, in that it prioritizes democracy over any one candidate. The issue with this is organizing all the superdelegates to do one thing, rather than creating local pressure to support who local voters supported. This plan certainly has its merits, but it might be more difficult to build local pressure for it because in many instances local communities will have voted for a different candidate than won the national delegate count. But bottom line: Any plan to consistently demand a loyalty to democracy across the board should be acceptable, whether that is getting all the superdelegates to vote for the overall delegate winner, or getting all superdelegates to follow the will of their local voters. And remember, this is not about rigging the nomination for one candidate or another - it is about making sure democracy is the most important thing to the Democratic Party.