Sunday, June 19, 2016

Congressional Black Caucus to Bernie: Super Delegate System is not Rigged

This has been the moment I've been waiting for. Recently, I and many other Democrats have pushed back against this piece of Bernie mythology that the Democratic nomination process is 'rigged.'

Bernie has thrown an awful lot of very selective shade over the SDs, though unlike most previous Dem nominees including Obama in 2008, Hillary has won on the strength of pledged delegates alone.

Obama won the plurality of PDs as did previous Dem winners but Hillary also won a majority of PDs.

I've known all along that the Congressional Black Caucus would not be having this attack on SDs. In 1988, one of the major reforms achieved by Jesse Jackson was to increase the number of SDs.

This has been a point I've made repeatedly. There is no reason to believe that having SDs means anything is rigged. Indeed, Jackson saw it the opposite: SDs were increased to insure that African-Americans got sufficient influence in deciding the candidate.

Bernie's arguments have often been terrible: dismissing Black voters in the South as the Confederacy, dismissing South Carolina as Guam, etc.

While he claimed that once Black folks got to know him they'd love him, it's been clear that his problem has been he doesn't get it. When you don't know there's something wrong with dismissing Southern Black voters as the Confederacy, or you think all Black folks are poor, it shows that you don't understand a very significant constituency in the Democratic party.

If he did, he would have known this attack on SDs and trying to make all primaries open would not get any traction with the Black Caucus-or the Hispanic Caucus, for that matter.

"Bernie Sanders is on a crash course with the Congressional Black Caucus."

"In a letter sent to both the Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns, the CBC is expressing its resolute opposition to two key reforms demanded by Sanders in the run-up to the Democratic convention: abolishing the party’s superdelegate system and opening Democratic primaries up to independents and Republicans."

"The Democratic Members of the Congressional Black Caucus recently voted unanimously to oppose any suggestion or idea to eliminate the category of Unpledged Delegate to the Democratic National Convention (aka Super Delegates) and the creation of uniform open primaries in all states," says the letter, which was obtained by POLITICO. "The Democratic Party benefits from the current system of unpledged delegates to the National Convention by virtue of rules that allow members of the House and Senate to be seated as a delegate without the burdensome necessity of competing against constituents for the honor of representing the state during the nominating process."

"The letter — which was also sent to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — follows a Wednesday CBC meeting where members discussed for over an hour the impact of eliminating superdelegates on the African-American community, according to CBC Chairman Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.)."

"We passed a resolution in our caucus that we would vehemently oppose any change in the superdelegate system because members of the CBC might want to participate in the Democratic convention as delegates but if we would have to run for the delegate slot at the county level or state level or district level, we would be running against our constituents and we're not going to do that,” said Butterfield. “But we want to participate as delegates and that's why this superdelegates system was created in the beginning, so members would not have to run against their own constituents."

"The opposition to open primaries is based on the fear that allowing independent or Republican voters to participate in Democratic primaries would dilute minority voting strength in many places."

Read more:

This is something that stood out in this primary. For Bernie to have had any chance to have won, it would have required counting black votes less.
"Many African-American lawmakers, however, are loathe to give up any influence and hard-won gains in the selection of the Democratic nominee. In a letter accompanying the CBC letter to Democratic colleagues, Rep. James Clyburn — a member of House leadership and co-chairman of a 2009 commission that reviewed the Democratic nominating process — strongly pushed back against criticism of the superdelegate process.

"Let me be clear, our delegate selection process is not rigged," Clyburn wrote in the separate letter, also obtained by POLITICO. "It is transparent to the public and open for participation for all who wish to declare themselves."

"The Sanders campaign declined to comment on the letters."

"Retaining some kind of superdelegate system has been a high priority for CBC members, said Democratic strategist Doug Thornell, formerly the group’s communications director."

"Sanders did a lot of things right in this campaign, he did a lot better than expected. At the same time he seemed to have a lack of understanding or lack of relationships with black leaders that you saw ultimately hurt him in South Carolina and other states with big black electorates," Thornell said. 

"And this is something that the CBC is going to be very passionate and push back against. This is a way that African-American officials can represent their district and have a say in the process. They're not going to go along with this at all."

Read more:

One thing he has not done well with is Black voters and Black Democratic party leaders.

The trouble is, to win them over, you have to establish credibility over time, not just parachute in and make a stump speech.

Multiple CBC members conceded that the superdelegate system has its flaws, but also argued it's not worth scrapping. "I've been listening to both sides, all sides of the debate and I think both sides have made persuasive arguments," said one CBC member, who asked to not be named.

"The superdelegate system is not perfect but it has worked for us quite well over the years and frankly the superdelegates have never needed to cast any superdelegate votes to alter what the voters did during the primary elections," said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. "Never. That's not the case this year either. The concern many of us have, of course, is that our numbers would shrink in terms of having influence over and involvement with what happens at the convention."

"Cleaver added that the CBC would not be swayed on the superdelegate issue."

"The black caucus is immovable on this subject because our number one concern is going to be an always be the highest level of minority participation as possible at the convention," Cleaver said. "You're going to see the same thing with the Hispanic Congressional Caucus. Mr. Sanders, if he had met with either or what's called the tri-caucus, he would have found out there is no flexibility."

Read more:
It's pretty clear: no crackdown on SDs and no crack down on closed primaries.

Thank God for the Congressional Black Caucus.

As Jamil Smith says:

"That last line from @repcleaver, though, is searing. Sanders never met with @OfficialCBC or @HispanicCaucus during this entire primary?"


  1. O/T: Mike, have you heard about this?

  2. I did last night and my plan is to write about it this morning