To listen to the media, Democrats are poised to face as chaotic a convention in 2016 as the GOP. Bernie Sanders has pledged to take his fight all the way to the party's June gathering even if the California primary clinches the nomination for Hillary Clinton. Are both parties headed for a showdown?
The answer is no.
Speaking on The Costa Report, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said the notion of a contested convention is yet another figment of the mainstream media - similar to the conjuring of superdelegates. It turns out, there's no such thing as a superdelegate. DNC rules allow for two types of delegates: pledged or unpledged. According to Schultz, only 15 percent of the delegates charged with determining the party's nominee fall under the unpledged category. These delegates are represented by "(Democratic) members of Congress, former party chairs and leaders, sitting governors." Wasserman Schultz describes them as leaders "who have been in the trenches, who have helped build this party, and who fight for Democratic Party values every single day." In other words, serious, working Democrats. Nothing "super" about that.
Likewise, the term 'contested convention' is another media-manufactured fiction. Wasserman Schultz claims that there's no danger of some candidate "swooping in" at the last minute. "All that would be happening here - if both candidates stay in the race until the convention - is that our primary would continue, and the normal process would play out... that's the process. There's nothing 'contested' about it." While she admits it is desirable for the party to have a presumptive nominee going into the convention, the DNC Chair noted it's not unusual for the race to extend longer. In 2008, the delegate count between Clinton and Obama was much closer than it is between the current finalists, causing Clinton to bow out later than expected. Owing to Sanders present deficit, and the fact that only 11 primaries remain, Wasserman Schultz is confident the Democratic Party will come together behind a single nominee shortly. But if either candidate has not acquired the number of pledged and unpledged delegates to win the party's nomination, the primary process will continue at the convention.
But this scenario isn't going to happen.
Even Sanders - who presently trails Clinton by hundreds of delegates - is coming to terms with the math. This month at the National Press Club Sanders confessed "that it is admittedly - and I do not deny it for a second - a tough road to climb. But it is not an impossible road to climb. And we intend to fight for every vote in front of us, and every delegate remaining." Though Sanders' ambition may be admirable, without more votes or delegates than his rival, he would be reduced to the argument that he is the strongest Democratic candidate to beat Donald Trump. And that would be insufficient for pledged and unpledged (so-called superdelegates) to turn their back on the voice of the majority.
Whether it's a "contested" convention, or the idea of "superdelegates," 2016 is fast shaping up to be the year of inflammatory buzzwords, accusations, and misdirection by candidates and the media alike. And to think we aren't even out of the primaries yet...