THE BLOG

My Representative, the Superdelegate

02/11/2008 07:24 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

So let me get this straight: superdelegates can either A) echo the voice of the people or B) circumvent the will of the people.

They can either do nothing or fuck everything up. Great.

In the nominating process, they are a vestigial tail that serves no positive purpose but can get cancer.

My rep, the Honorable Diane Watson of California's Fightin' 33rd, has pledged her support to Hillary Rodham Clinton. No word on whether the 61-37 asskicking Barack Obama administered in her district will sway her one way or the other.

Rep. Watson is hardly alone in being out of step with her constituents. But at least she has constituents.

You know who else has pledged his allegiance to Hillary? Superdelegate Walter Mondale. No kidding. Mondale, who enjoyed the support of almost all 700 superdelegates in 1984, has thrown in with the establishment candidate, for the moment ignoring the 67-32 thumping HRC received in Minnesota (the only state Fritz carried in '84). Is there a better illustration of this whole past v. future meme than Walter Mondale casting his superdelegate vote for Hillary Clinton despite a 35-point victory by Barack Obama in Minnesota?

At least Rep. Watson will have to stand for election in November after possibly alienating 61 percent of her support with her convention vote. Mondale can tell the Democrats of the Husker Du state to go jump in one of their 10,000 lakes with impunity.

Same with former House Speaker Tom Foley. He's a Hillary guy too. Never mind that Washington state went 68-31 for Obama. Both of Washington's senators -- Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray -- have pledged support to Hillary, though one would hope they might fear electoral reprisal if they don't quietly align with their constituents by the time of the convention. But Tom Foley? What's to keep him from essentially exercising voter nullification? (Note: Foley's predecessor as House Speaker, Jim Wright, is also on board for Hillary, though his former Texas district won't vote until next month.)

Now the standard party establishment talking point here is to throw Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick back in the face of Obama supporters. Fair enough. I'd be perfectly comfortable with elected officials being obliged to vote in lockstep with their constituencies. I don't think you'd hear any complaints from the Obama camp on that one.

But what goalpost-moving campaign do you suppose would be mortified if superdelegates were forced to echo the votes of their constituents? (Bill Clinton likes to say how often the voters get it right, but just in case they don't in this instance, I'm guessing he won't be above some superdelegate arm-twisting.)

What if all those chyrons on all the cable news shows suddenly removed Sen. Clinton's superdelegate advantage and we saw her trailing by almost a hundred pledged delegates?

Superdelegates may have been created by the party to protect the voters from themselves. But in the event that -- by a very narrow margin -- the voters get it right, who will protect us from the party?