Supers


I posted this as a comment elsewhere; this is about the debate over the role of superdelegates in this democratic primary. Whatever you may feel about Obama, he’s been a genius to provide his supporters an easy ‘hook’ in “dudes, follow the democratic process” to skewer super delegates who’re trying to do their rightful job.

This presidential primary, we’re debating two arguments – is this process truly ‘democratic’? And then, is that the ‘best’ way to go?

For the first, a truly successful, representative democracy will have the following elements:

(a) Complete information symmetry – this is often not true, and one example is Obama’s pastor’s comments coming across at this late date, when it is too late for the people in my state to take back their vote;

(b) One person only one vote, and one vote for EVERY person – no matter what sex, what age, what occupation – this doesn’t happen as we’ve seen only a handful of people are able to spare 6 hours for a caucus and only a fraction of registered voters vote in a primary; also delegates are often strangely awarded – e.g. Clinton won the popular vote in New Hampshire and Nevada but came up equal/short in the number of delegates awarded;

(c) Independent choice – which is accomplished via secret ballot; again this is not the case in a caucus – the best data is Texas where in the same state, the same time the same two candidates participated in a caucus AND a primary and each candidate won a different one – the best bet would’ve been to pick the more representative form of selection (primary), but the delegates were awarded based on both.
So this is already not a ‘democratic choice’ – it’s a good approximation, especially when the voting pattern is very clear and non-ambiguous, but in the present case it can be extremely misleading, as we’re seeing.

For the second, the fundamental principle behind a democracy is ‘do least evil’. Any intelligent person can figure out that a benign dictatorship is often much, much more effective and efficient than a democracy in which millions and millions of people need to be fed information, motivation and capabilities to all move in the same direction for the country. However, we’re all ‘for’ a democracy – not just because it represents choice and collective will, but primarily because efficiency and effectiveness are deemed secondary to ‘least evil’ – you trust all these millions of people to stand up against bad, inhuman or negative choices, in a way ONE human being’s conscience can often be led astray.

This is the premise of a democracy – that even if it’s a slower way to accomplish growth/prosperity/whatever the goal is, it’s still has its own internal checks and balances. That is an excellent premise.

However, that excellent premise does not often hold. We saw this (not to invoke Godwin’s law, but the first example that comes to mind – please let me know if you have a better example!!) – in pre-WW II Germany, when Hitler and his policies were extremely popular, even when they were inherently evil. He was, in a deadly combination of the right language and the right timing, able to enthuse millions of fresh-faced seventeen-year-olds and inspire them to ‘defend their fatherland’ – in the most evil way possible. That was proof that a democracy may be morally wrong, even if it is the majority’s choice. Other examples, less known but equally potent, include the election by majority of the extremist Hamas in the Palestinian elections (2006), the election of Narendra Modi, a supporter of State-sponsored terrorism and genocide, to a third term in Gujarat, India (2007) with a two-thirds majority, etc etc.

Finally, given that neither is this primary truly ‘democratic’ nor is a democracy the most morally and rationally ‘right’ choice always, I totally agree that the super-delegates, a set of trusted, experienced people should be allowed to exercise their independent choices. This whole ‘they must follow the will of the people’ is a ridiculous argument, as well as inaccurate and incorrect.

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Categories: hillary clinton, politics
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