By Don E. Ford
Super Delegates are becoming the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” of the movement. If you’re too young for that joke… look it up.
So, basically, I wrote a book about this subject and instead of delivering a mountain of information, I’m presenting it as a Q & A conversation… mostly with myself but I think it works… though I am still editing.
Let’s start with the Basics…
Q: What does the DNC do?
A: The Democratic National Committee controls the Presidential Nomination Process for the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party, much like the country, is a body made up of smaller bodies. The DNC operates in the same way the Federal Government does with each State having representatives and other members being eligible in other ways. These members are often referred to as “Super Delegates” but this is a general and informal term. Each member has a very different role, understanding them is crucial for cutting through the media narrative.
These groups break into a smaller group of voting members who participate at the regular meetings and the larger group who only have a vote at the Convention.
Q: Who are these Super Delegates? Is it true they are unelected?
A: Yes and no. The vast majority of them are elected in some way however, the Chair is allowed up to 75 appointments and former DNC Chairs have lifetime appointments. The rest are a combination of National and State-wide elected officials, Chairs of eligible National caucuses, and State Party Leadership. The Voting body of the DNC is a subset of that body and there are 451 members who are comprised of State Party Chairs, Vice Chairs, elected At-Large Members, and Leaders of various Caucuses and State-Wide Committees who have met eligibility for DNC membership.
Q: So what exactly is a Super Delegate? And why didn’t we Abolish them completely?
A: Super Delegate is an informal term for what was formally known as an “unpledged delegate.” The Media named them this because they are BOTH automatically delegates to the Convention AND they are unpledged to any candidate. Since their ability to vote on the first ballot was taken away, the name was changed to “Automatic Delegate” because they are automatically convention delegates still.
So, in a way we did “get rid” of Super Delegates but technically it is only temporary because the change is in the Convention Rules. Though it is a temporary fix, this fact means the Rule is much harder to change.
If we want to “Abolish” Super Delegates we would have to make a change to the Charter which requires a 2/3s vote but can technically be done at any DNC meeting.
This would still not come in the form that many would like to see and could only be labeled as such informally but there is no functional way to take away the Automatic Delegates Convention Delegate status. We can only extend the ballot process and take them further from first ballot voting, but I will point out later that this is unnecessary, though we could do it just to make everyone feel better.
Q: Why are they Convention Delegates still?
A: The general principle was that we don’t want an Activist to have to run against their Governor or Congressperson for a delegate seat and we do want our party leadership present in some way. If there is a tie to break in certain situations then the elected party leadership is who we would turn to in that case. Though we are going to explain how that is unlikely.
HOWEVER, the rules and bylaws changed a rule which I am furious about. Previously unpledged delegates were barred from running for pledged delegate seats. This is something to be legitimately angry about. The only upside is that they cannot hold both Delegate seats at the same time, they must surrender their Automatic status if they win a Pledged Delegate spot. It MUST be changed back when the Convention rules are reopened in 2022.
Also, when the Convention rules are reopened in 2022, the Super Delegate Reform must be maintained at that point because this is the best opportunity for it to be struck from the rules. We can get into that another time.
Q: What exactly did the Super Delegate reform accomplish?
A: The Super Delegate reform separated Unpledged Delegates from Pledged Delegates on the first ballot. Having the now Automatic delegates on the first ballot was used by the media to intentionally psyche out the electorate.
If you were an organizer in 2016, one of the toughest problems you had to overcome was the media stacking Super Delegates months in advance of anyone voting. This is ultimately bad for the party’s growth.
This argument was crucial for getting the state party chairs on board with stripping their own voting powers because the data supports that when you don’t have a hearty Primary, given the opportunity, then you stagnate party growth… and then we lose in November to the Republicans.
Simply put, Democrats do not vote when they feel their vote doesn’t matter and State Party Chairs care, or at least they should, about winning… it’s the core of their entire role.
The media being unable to tabulate them in advance is a sign that the Reform is real. Yes, we had to make concessions but not on the major pieces that hindered the Movement’s growth.
Think about, how many Delegates do you think Bloomberg would have right now if 2016 rules were in place?
Q: Why is the Media is making it seem like they never went away?
A: Of course they are. They are leaving a backdoor open to the rigging just in case the Neoliberals figure out how to change the rule back and they can’t, at least right now, with the current DNC Chair. Then the Media can act like its not a big deal when they steal the election. But it’s far more likely that the delegates who become Unpledged when their candidate releases them will decide this on the first round.
Q: If they wanted to change the rules to bring Automatic Delegates back on to the first ballot, how would they do it?
A: First off, they cannot change anything until the Convention.
In order to do it before the convention, they would have to FIRST call an emergency meeting of Rules and Bylaws to reopen the rule we spent months fighting over… and THEN call an emergency meeting of the DNC body to vote on those new rule changes, even though the body voted overwhelmingly in support of the reform.
There is no real process to accomplish this. Since the body would have to reach quorum and since the voting body is primarily the State Party Chairs and their elected bodies, the part of the DNC that supports the Reform because of the impact on party growth, there is literally no way to accomplish this.
Q: So, how would they change it at the Convention?
A: The first step of the National Convention is accepting the Rules the DNC body passed.
At this stage, they can do anything, and I mean anything, to the rules… but not without debate and process. Originally they did have a plan to change it back at the Convention.
I literally had someone walk up to the group I was talking to not 20 minutes after the Reform passed to announce that they would just, in fact, change it at the Convention.
HOWEVER… and it’s a big, however…
At the final stage of the Negotiations, after months of debate, they attempted to separate the Eligibility element I had been fighting for and move it to a footnote. This would allow them to do what is known as a “line item strike.” This is when you strike a particular line on a page. By separating the eligibility clause it made it vulnerable to a line strike at the convention, like a fail-safe for neoliberals. It could be done quietly with few, if any, questions.
Instead, I forced them to fold the eligibility into the main rule so that they could not easily line item strike it at the convention. They would have to open debate in the Committee which would be a much more complicated process and not done in the shadows like when the rigging of 2015 was designed. The Debate over the rule took months and no one who stands on the normal Committee is on the current Convention Rules Committee.
It is also the ONLY rule pertaining to Eligibility regarding Delegates voting at all. So, if they struck the entire thing then anyone could vote for the Nominee and Delegates would become irrelevant, it’s the glue holding the whole thing together.
So, they did try to set it up for a quick line item strike but I prevented them from doing that in the final stages of negotiations in Committee… You can read about it here… https://www.facebook.com/IdLikeToReachDon/posts/10212126391102887
Also, at the actual vote in Chicago, something similar to a Line Item Strike was attempted when the group standing against Reform challenged the rule change based on it needing a Charter change to implement, which would require a 2/3s vote, and it did not pass with a 2/3s vote against it…
This means that 2/3s of the DNC voting body voted in favor of allowing the Reform. After this, the actual Reform passed in acclimation as part of the 2020 DNC Convention Rules.
This is why it’s easy for a media outlet to find 100 DNC Members who will say they are for changing it back, all they have to do is look at the vote before the Reform and contact those people.
Q: The Committees you mentioned… didn’t Perez just stack them against us?
A: Well, yes and no. Yes, the appointments the DNC Chair made do look bad and are… I can’t even try to explain why Podesta is on anything… well, I have one idea but I’ll get there in a second.
The important factor is that these members represent only a small part of the committees. I’m still unclear as to precisely how many there are exactly but on my highest estimate they only represent 19% of the Committees and 20% is needed for a quorum.
The Candidates will appoint these other members based on their final total Delegate count. This is why candidates hang on to all their Delegates until the convention because they can leverage for a better deal with the future Whitehouse.
Don’t expect anyone to drop out if they have Delegates for this reason.
Q: Okay, so what about if all the other candidates pool their Delegates and either force a second round or steal the nomination?
A: There are a few different ways to deal with the idea… but instead of talking about the nightmare scenarios, I’m going to break down some really basic, but critical ideas.
First off, as far as forcing a second round goes… Even though there are around 150 DNC members who would love their voting power back so they could sell it to Bloomberg, the vast majority of DNC members do not want a second ballot. They know that no matter what the outcome is of a second ballot that the party will almost certainly lose.
No matter which side wins, the other side will cry foul and the Republicans will jump on this. There is no question they know how to maximize our disfunction to the point they have developed instructions. A second ballot would be the demise of the party.
But luckily, or not depending on how you look at it, as Raymond Buckley the NH State Party Chair and former ASDC Chair has confirmed that delegates can technically vote however they want on the first ballot. They are PLEDGED to vote a certain way but they do not have to vote anyway, which is why it is so important to elect Delegates who are adamant in support for their Pledged Candidate.
Second, Candidates DO NOT own their delegates. They are in no way obligated to vote in any way after they are released. In order to pool delegates, candidates would need to “release” their Delegates first. Since Delegates represent their constituents and not the Candidates, we can track it back to the constituents and determine how they would want the newly Unpledged Delegates to vote based on what type of Pledged Delegates they are.
It is far more likely that this Primary is decided by Pledged delegates who become unpledged after their candidate releases them.
Q: Wait, hold up. You make it sound like there are different kinds of Pledged Delegates?
A: There are. There are three kinds of Pledged Delegate… Congressional Delegates, which are elected based on congressional district results, and the Statewide Delegates, which break down into two types… At-Large & PLEO, which stands for “Party Leaders Elected Officials.”
A candidate must get above 15% in all phases to be eligible for delegates in each phase. At the Caucus-level is to be eligible at the Congressional District-level and If they hit 15% at the State-level then they are eligible for At-Large and PLEO Delegates.
These are either appointed or elected at the state convention.
Q: Are these state Conventions important? Bernie says they only affect the State?
A: While that is true, what happens at the state level is extremely important and translates directly into National Delegates.
Not only is there the opportunity to snag extra Delegates, which I can confirm happened in Maine and Missouri in 2016… as well as triggering that mess in Nevada, this also controls the Platform and party leadership of many states.
Even though many states switched to Primaries this year or had previously, some form of the caucus process usually exists for the Delegate process. In states that just switched over, the Caucus process is being under-promoted and just a few days ago in Minnesota, neither side had enough people show up… but had one side dominated they would now control the state of Minnesota.
Also, at these Conventions is where many of the other candidate’s Delegates will be appointed and it is the absolute best place to start building a relationship with them.
Q: Okay, State Conventions are important… but what happens to Delegates if candidates drop out? They are released and then what?
A: Then they become Unpledged Delegates.
Q: Wait, isn’t that like Super Delegates?
A: Yes, essentially they become a new type of Super Delegate except they aren’t automatic to the Convention, though they are going, and are open to voting however they want on the first ballot.
Candidates can endorse whoever they’d like and though they can organize backroom deals of who will go where… the actual person has to make the decision and has total control of their vote.
Ultimately, the vote should come down to what their constituents want. The Caucus process we use is designed to allow the vote to change as new information becomes available and uses the Conventions as the conduit for this change.
Q: But they make it seem so locked down and unchangeable?
A: Yes, of course they do. But the rules allow for otherwise. In many states who still have the caucus process for Delegates, if we show up with more people and their people don’t then we take those delegate spots and that can lead to additional National Delegates.
Q: So what does this all mean?
A: The Pledged Delegates who are pledged to nonviable candidates will become, essentially, First Round Super Delegates and will decide the race before a single actual Super Delegate votes on the second ballot.
Q: So, wait? This is going to be decided on the first ballot?
A: If we convince the delegates assigned to nonviable candidates to vote for Bernie as their #2 choice then we are guaranteeing a first-ballot victory.
Candidates will try to hold their Delegates for leverage but we can make these deals months in advance with the understanding that they will become unpledged because we can find them at the State Conventions.
And this gives us the opportunity to win these folks over and include them as part of the movement.
Q: But what about Bloomberg and his unlimited money?
A: It is illegal for a Candidate to give a Delegate any money at all. While a Candidate can circumvent FEC laws with Party Leaders because they often have Campaign accounts or Nonprofits that can be made flush, Pledged Delegates have additional restrictions and though he COULD do it, his lawyers wouldn’t let him.
Q: So, if we do all this and win over the loose Pledge Delegates who become unpledged then we can win on the first round and Super Delegates don’t get to vote at al?
A: Well, yes to the first part but now Automatic Delegates get to vote on the first ballot…
Q: WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, I THOUGHT WE WERE WINNING?!?!
A: Well, calm down, please.
Now they get to vote in “acclimation” and will be forced to vote for Bernie if he has a simple majority of 50%+1 Delegate.
Q: Super Delegates will be forced to vote for Bernie if we get a 50%+1 majority?
A: That’s correct and we have the Congressional Black Caucus members to thank for that little gem. Technically, they can choose not to vote but they can only vote in line with the existing nominee determined by Pledged Delegates.
Q: But then Super Delegates get to vote on the VP and they can steal that from Bernie?
A: You mean the same Automatic Delegates who were just forced to vote in acclimation?
Q: This doesn’t seem that bad at all…?
A: Not if we Kick-Ass and knock on tons of doors to make everyone vote for Bernie on Super Tuesday.
If we get 50%+1 then there is nothing they can do.
We will control the delegates…
We will control the committees…
And we will control the party…
This all happened because the Super Delegate Reform is real and the Neo-Liberal Establishment is realizing how bad they are fucked while the State Parties are drawing their neutrality line and maintaining it.
The State Parties are the voting body of the DNC, and, for the most part, they back whatever will lead to more party growth.
Q: Okay, but we should still try to get Tom Perez to resign, right?
A: Tom has made a lot of bad choices to appease different groups, look at the committee appointments, and took some serious hits to make the Super Delegate reform happen. Make no mistake he was crucial to it and if he were removed, Bloomberg would write a check to whoever the interim chair would be… I think it might be Donna Brazille, but no one is sure or will say… and they would open the door to reopening the rules at the Convention and attempt to bring back the Super Delegates… I cannot stress still how difficult it would be from this point.
If that did somehow work, Supers would then be used to support another Candidate, probably Pete.
Removing him would be much worse than leaving him in… the only thing that matters is the National Chair is against the rules being reopened and he might be in support of a Credentials Challenge of the Iowa Delegation because of their shady results.
Leaving him is the best option, not even a lesser of evils… it is the best option.
Q: This seems like a big nothing-burger, why are we talking about this now?
A: Bloomberg’s people are hoping you will get pissed off enough to call for Perez’s removal and then open the door, though still somewhat impossible, to the return of first-ballot access…
And because they are trying to distract you on GOTV Weekend before Super Tuesday.
How many doors could you have knocked or calls made in the time you read this…?
Now, how many could you have done in the time you were worried about Super Delegates who at the very worst aren’t an issue until July when the Convention rules get rubber-stamped…?
A small group of Automatic Delegates and the Media are trying to psyche you out because they don’t want to be forced to vote for Bernie Sanders on the first ballot…
And that’s exactly what we are going to do.
So, our goal is to actually bring Automatic Delegates back to the first ballot but neutralized, unable to change the outcome.
And that is what I call justice.
There is one number I want to leave you with.. if we were to get to a second ballot and every delegate is voting then the scary number is 1605… this is the number of Pledged Delegates you would need to have EVERY Automatic Delegate vote for you and win the Nomination.
That is our red line, though it would not be the end.
Plus, Bernie has endorsements from far more Automatic Delegates that he did in 2016… Like Alex OC and Rashida Tlaib, but we don’t know who has how many because the LAST thing we want is the Media tabulating them in any semi-official way.
That not happening is holding the very fragile Democratic Party together at the moment.