Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Super Delegates" and the Battle Between the Past and the Future, by Norman Markowitz

by Norman Markowitz

So-called "Super Delegates" were added to Democratic conventions long ago as part of the party organization leadership's backlash against reforms which followed the protests against the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention. The idea was to give the leaders and those whom the leaders would appoint a buffer against insurgent candidates supported by mass forces. What is happening today though is an example of how mass forces can change the balance of power, even against institutions and structures designed to stop them.

In Brooklyn, New York, a Congressman and Super Delegate supporting Hillary Clinton is the target of an extensive campaign by his constituents, who voted overwhelmingly in the Democratic primary for Obama. Although the Super Delegates can change whom they support (they are not pledged to anyone by the rules of the convention as are the regular delegate, and they can, if they wish, hypothetically vote for Clinton even if they say they are going to vote for Obama or simply not say whom they will vote for until the vote) the mass movement developing around the Obama campaign is beginning to put more and more pressure on these Delegates, making it difficult for them to vote for Clinton, especially if they are still elected officials and have pro Obama constituencies.

It is interesting that former Senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma, who ran on one of the most left oriented platforms in the 1976 Democratic primary contests (the press called him a "populist" and did what they could to ignore him) has endorsed Obama.

Actually, the most famous "uncommitted" Super Delegate is Al Gore. From my readings, he has no love of Bill Clinton. He also has developed enormously since 2000. Although this may very well be wishful thinking, his endorsement might really strengthen the mass movement and give Obama a momentum that would be unbeatable. As someone who went from the old politics of the Democratic Leadership Council and the Clinton administration to a "new politics" which has seen him become a global statesman of environmental movement, it would be fitting for him to help bring a new and necessary political period in U.S. history to fruition.


Anonymous said...

It is the affliction of the left to see the world through (no pun intended) rose colored glasses. I have lived in a number of places in this country and now live in Texas. I have a sense of how the average American voter thinks. It is a setup to have Obama nominated and then go down to defeat. He is a creation of the corporate elites and their media. Watch his numbers go south after his nomination. The only African-American who could have won the White House but declined to run in 1996 was Colin Powell.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think we're seeing something that has happened before.

So what do you suggest? We all have been duped?

At some point we're going to have to stop being cynical and dismal just because we're tired (or afraid) of losing.

Obama is not the ideal candidate, but he is the better of the three choices still presented to us.

I say let's fight for that rather than spreading demoralizing claims based on our subjective experiences. We all have lived a lot of places and talked to a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon2 very strongly and I am still Norman Markowitz, author of the piece.

The exploiting classes are always engaged in conspiracies to sustain and augment their power, but history isn't a conspiracy in itself, or else there would be no change and all apparent change would be the manipulation of elites.
Obama is the product of a mass movement which sees in his candidacy a whole series of substantive changes. Edwards, a white male, ran on better class based issues, and as a white male would not have people voting against him because of his color or his gender. He failed to win mass support. Clinton is someone whom the ruling circles would be more comfortable with than Obama, not as comfortable as they would be with McCain though, who has no relationship of any kind with labor, minorities(save his support for gambling on Native American lands and positive statements about Native Americans who are a significant minority in Arizona) or any progressive constituency.

No one is "ideal," including Communist and Socialist candidates.

Anonymous said...

"[C]reation of the corporate elites and their media"... That analysis is very unclear and frankly I don't believe in it.

It seems to me that the truth is that corporate elites actually saw Clinton as the inevitable next president. She had all the money and all the media coverage; she had all of the big early endorsements from party insiders -- many of whom are probably wishing they had delayed a month or two.

Recall that Obama's campaign was viewed as cute but unlikely.

That has changed.

But the issue is not about the individuals; it is about the kind of political terrain that is created (or in the case of a McCain election, remains unchanged) with the 2008 elections.

One might be able to disagree with Obama on a number of issues, but a person who claims to identify with the left has to agree with him that real change doesn't come solely by electing presidents. It comes through struggle and by movements. And while Clinton has campaigned on identifying herself with political elites in Washington, Obama has identified himself with the people who struggle.

That is basically what sets him apart form Clinton.

Anonymous said...

It is said that "Obama is the choice of the wine and cheese crowd and Clinton that of the beer and pretzels." Clinton is specific on issues. and further left than Obama. I will vote for Obama if he is nominated. Of course, I would have preferred Edwards. Clinton will win the rust belt, Pennsylvania and Ohio. She is the candidate of the down and out. The Republicans are demonizing her because they're afraid of her. Here in Texas, a lot of Republicans are talking about crossing over to the Democratic primary to vote for Obama. Watch out, you may get what you wish for.

HoustonRad said...

I think people can easily find the specific proposals Obama has been putting forward for some time. Try

Also, who is this "wine & cheese" crowd? Obama has won most of the popular vote in the Democratic Party primaries and caucuses.

I also suspect that with Huckabee still in the race, not too many Republicans are going to be running to vote for Obama.

Also, I am not sure who in the Republican punditocracy loves Obama so much. Ann Coulter says she'll back Clinton in McCain gets nominated. Right-wing CNN loudmouth Glenn Beck said the same thing.

I do not disagree that Clinton has taken some good stances on a number of issues, but I suspect their leftward tilt has only come within the last few weeks of the campaign, esp. as her inevitable coronation didn't work out.