My father Don Fowler is a superdelegate. I love my father, and I trust my father. And I gave up letting my father dictate my life since he determined how late I got to stay up at night.
So, as much as I love and respect him, I don't trust him and his fellow superdelegates to decide for me and the American people who should be the Democratic nominee.
Truth is, they won't.
There is a tremendous amount of discussion and even paranoia suggesting that a group of party insiders are already at work cutting some backroom deal to pick the nominee they want ... damn the will of the voters and damn the democratic process.
That's pretty much hogwash when one looks at who these superdelegates actually are.
Half of them are superdelegates precisely because of the will of the voters -- all Democratic House members, all Democratic senators (except Lieberman), and all the Democratic governors. The other half are the 450 or so members of the Democratic National Committee -- a sort of oversized board of directors for the national party. These folks come from every state and represent every wonderful, vibrant piece of cloth that makes up the Democratic electoral quilt.
Establishment, you say? These very same DNC members are the reason Howard Dean is Chairman of the Party ... despite the vocal, aggressive, even nasty opposition of the establishment. One very powerful establishment leader said of Governor Dean's chase for the chairmanship after Kerry's 2004 loss, "I don't care who the Chairman of the DNC is, it just can't be Howard Dean." Oops. That was not a lonely sentiment coming from DC. Yet it was the 450 DNC members -- superdelegates all -- who put him exactly where he needed to be.
Let's take this superdelegate analysis even further. At the end of this nomination process when the voters have spoken, the superdelegates will want what is best for the party (meaning a victory in November) and will almost all resist any temptation to overturn any decision made by a clear majority of voters in the states. They are just as susceptible as anyone else to the momentum changes that have come with this super-close election ... and, unlike many delegates elected because in state primaries and caucuses, superdelegates are not bound to their decision even after they publicly endorse a candidate. They can change their minds.
Most superdelegates have spent the majority of their lives serving the Democratic Party. Many, like my father in South Carolina, started in that state's civil rights movement of the 1960s with Democratic House Whip Jim Clyburn, another superdelegate. Others, like Jenny Greenleaf in Oregon, rose up with Governor Dean's presidential campaign only four years ago. Some are old bulls, like Jim Roosevelt, grandson of President Roosevelt, and some are future leaders like Mona Mohib, a thirty-something and for a while the only Muslim on the DNC.
So the superdelegates are, in fact, "super" because of their commitment to the Democratic Party and its ideals. And most were elected to that position in one way or another. They are not "super" because they have extra votes or because one presidential campaign controls them. Could the superdelegates be a tiebreaker? Of course. But that would mean we would have a tie, not a clear frontrunner.
Why are the superdelegates there, then? They provide a sense of perspective and wisdom and, if ever needed, they could slow down the rise of an unfortunate and dangerous insurgent candidate like a Lyndon Larouche or David Duke. Just to be extra special clear, neither Senator Obama nor Senator Clinton are what the national party leadership had in mind over twenty years ago when the superdelegates came into being.
So not to worry, when the Members of Congress, the Senators, and the governors cast a vote for president, they will not be making backroom deals. And when the members of the DNC from every corner and pocket of the world's oldest political party cast their ballot, remember that they are from and of the party that Governor Dean chairs.
Added February 15, 2008
The Pelosi's Back the Will of the Voters
Added February 19, 2008
It's OK for Obama & Clinton to Lobby Each Others Delegates