Clinton Concedes – Bernie’s Changes To Superdelegate System Wins By Acclaim
The Democratic Rules Committee has voted to revamp the superdelegate system Saturday after a deal was hammered out between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Amendment seeks to make superdelegates less divisive
An amendment that maintains the existing superdelegate role for elected lawmakers and governors, but binds the remaining superdelegates—about two-thirds—to primary and caucus results met with nearly unanimous approval by the committee.
The amendment will need to be formally approved by the DNC and won’t take effect until the next presidential election. It establishes a “Unity Commission” to make recommendations on the reforms.
“The Commission shall make specific recommendations providing that Members of Congress, Governors, and distinguished party leaders remain unpledged and free to support their nominee of choice,” reads the language of the new rules, “but that remaining unpledged delegates be required to cast their vote at the Convention for candidates in proportion to the vote received for each candidate in their state.”
The new rules, approved by a vote of 158 to 6, require Democrats to appoint a unity commission of 21 members, “no later than 60 days” after the general election, which will be chaired by Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, a Clinton supporter, and vice-chaired by Larry Cohen, a Sanders supporter and the former president of Communications Workers of America.
A mixture of Sanders and Clinton ideas went into the rest of the guidelines for the commission, The Washington Post reports. These include expanding “eligible voters’ ability to participate in the caucuses” in caucus states (a key complaint of the Clinton campaign) and fostering “the involvement in all elections of unaffiliated or new voters who seek to join the Democratic Party through same-day registration and re-registration” (demanded by Sanders).
But Clinton’s campaign really didn’t give up much ground and holds a strong majority on the committee. Had the rule changes been adopted for the 2016 presidential primaries, it’s likely Clinton would have maintained a lead over Sanders, losing the support of superdelegates in some states, but coming out ahead nevertheless. And while Sanders favors independents being involved in primaries, the unity guidelines imply independents must join the Democratic Party, even if it’s only on Election Day.
Sanders was hoping for more superdelegate reforms as well, but unfortunately, these didn’t materialize. As we’ve seen, states like Rhode Island and Oklahoma saw superdelegates hewing to Clinton even though Sanders won handily. This allowed senators, governors, and members of the House to continue endorsing whenever they chose, and also allowed for their endorsements to be counted in delegate totals. That, Sanders has said gave the impression early on that he could not win. If superdelegates had been bound to the results of primaries, that would have resolved his complaint.
And right now, Sanders may have a good reason to be angry.
Wikileaks has released nearly 20,000 internal emails from the DNC, The Intercept reports. Presumably, the emails were provided by the hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” and one message is particularly notable. It’s dated May 2016 and was sent from DNC CFO Brad Marshall to DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda and Deputy Communications Director Mark Paustenbach. In the email, Marshall suggests the party should “get someone to ask” Sanders about his religious beliefs.
The email read:
“It might may [sic] no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”
The Intercept notes that it isn’t clear who the “someone” in the message is, but mentioned “a member of the press seems like a safe bet.”
Marshall responded to the publication’s request for comment in an email and said:
“I do not recall this. I can say it would not have been Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate.”
The Intercept then asked him who this surrogate is, but apparently hasn’t heard back yet.
The publication further notes that even though Sanders isn’t mentioned by name, he’s the only Jewish candidate from either party, and apparently this was considered a weakness that Marshall believed could be exploited in favor of Clinton.
The DNC is also supposed to remain neutral regarding Democratic candidates until they receive a nomination, so just why it would attempt to undercut the Sanders campaign because “he is an atheist” is unclear, The Intercept noted.
“Guccifer 2.0” confirmed in a private message to The Intercept that he provided the huge trove of emails to Wikileaks.
If all of this is true, how sad that the DNC stooped this low to harm someone who clearly has the best interests of the poor and the middle class at heart.
Even so, Sanders people realize that in a lot of ways, their candidate really has won.
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Former congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin remembered back to the days when reforms were pushed by Democratic nominee George McGovern prior to the 1972 election.
“I have no doubt that our former presidential nominee would be proud of the work we have done today,” she said.
Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, who’s a Clinton supporter, hopes the compromise will ward off anyone who intended to protest Clinton—or Sanders—from the convention floor.
“We need to make sure that nobody does anything when Bernie speaks, and we need to make sure that nobody does anything when Hillary speaks,” Webb said. “Yes, we can work together.”
So the DNC may have wrought a compromise here, but people should be able to protest—whether or not on the convention floor. The First Amendment guarantees us the right to do so.
Bernie Sanders knows how to wage a good protest. Those of us who support him understand that quite well.
Photo courtesy of Darren McCollester/Getty Images