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A Message to Uncommitted Superdelegates: You Must Commit This Week or Risk a McCain Presidency

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Dear Uncommitted Superdelegates:

Time's Up. Game Over. Point, Set, Match.

You may have hoped that you could wait to commit until you could simply ratify a majority already in place and thus avoid pissing off the Clintons or their supporters among your constituents. It's now too late for that. If you don't declare yourself this coming week, before the Rules and Bylaws Committee meets on Saturday, May 31 to resolve the Florida and Michigan situation, you risk Clinton further challenging any compromise for three more months right up until the Denver Convention, and there being no presumptive Democratic nominee through the summer. The likelihood, then, is a McCain presidency, a divided Democratic Party, and even more harm to your political career than if you acted now.

Until recently, there was hope that a May 31st compromise on the Florida and Michigan delegations would resolve that unfortunate situation once and for all -- seat half of those delegates, seat all of them but give them each half a vote, and/or apportion a reasonable number of Michigan delegates to Obama (many of whose supporters voted "uncommitted" after he joined most other Democratic candidates in taking their names off the Michigan ballot).

Hillary Clinton now seems to be taking the option of a compromise off the table. Clinton and campaign operatives like Howard Wolfson and Terry McAuliffe are sending signals that Hillary will accept nothing less than seating the full Florida and Michigan delegations as elected (including allocating zero delegates from Michigan to Obama). If the Rules and Bylaws Committee does anything less on May 31st, the Clinton campaign is strongly suggesting that it will not accept the results, will take their challenge to the Credentials Committee which meets on June 29, and if still not satisfied, will continue the challenge Obama's nomination all the way to the Convention at the end of August where it will try to fight a Florida/Michigan compromise from the floor.

In recent days, Hillary has compared her efforts to change Democratic Party rules and seat the Florida and Michigan delegates as elected to the abolitionist movement against slavery, the movement for women's suffrage, the civil rights movement to ensure African Americans the right to vote, Bush v. Gore, and struggle of the majority of voters in Zimbabwe to remove Robert Mugabe from power. For the Rules and Bylaws Committee to do less than Hillary demands, would, in her view, be an injustice of such magnitude that she might be entitled to carry the struggle all the way to the Convention. In any case, who knows, Hillary now suggests. Something may happen in the next three months to harm Obama or his candidacy, thus further justifying her keeping the nomination open through the summer.

Maybe Hillary is bluffing, but the Democratic Party can't afford to take the chance. It would be the height of irresponsibility for undeclared superdelegates to allow the Democratic Party and the presidency to be put at such risk.

This is not a question of whether in the abstract you believe Obama or Clinton is the better nominee. Unless you are willing as a superdelegate to overrule the millions of Democratic primary and caucus voters who have given a majority of legal elected delegates to Obama, you have no choice but to declare for Obama.

If approximately 125 of the 212 remaining uncommitted superdelegates declare for Obama this coming week, before the May 31st Rules Committee Meeting, then the Rules Committee could grant Hillary's demand to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates as elected, without effecting the outcome of the nomination. Obama would still have enough delegates to be the nominee, even with Hillary's new delegate math of 2210. Hillary would have no basis for further challenges. Democrats who voted in the Florida and Michigan primaries would have no grounds to feel aggrieved, strengthening Democratic chances in those states in November.

The Democratic Party could then unite behind its candidate, five months before the November elections, and have sufficient time to run an effective and unified campaign against a "third term for President Bush".

UNDECLARED SUPERDELEGATES: If you lack the courage to declare before May 31st, you risk the Democratic nomination battle continuing through the summer, putting the future of the Democratic Party, the United States, and the world in danger. If you won't commit out of idealism, then do it for the sake of your political careers. Democrats will not soon forget those who choose instead to run and hide.