Making the Democratic Party Democratic

This op ed is by a guy, Ronald Klain, who was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year, but with that caveat I have to say I agree with his suggestions for reforming the Democratic nomination process. They are: (1) eliminate the caucuses; (2) open the primaries to independents; (3) take away the superdelegate vote.

Suggestions #2 and #3 are the ones I agree with most strongly, but I can see the argument for #1. A primary probably is a more reliable measure of a state’s Democratic voters than a caucus, which is a confusing and time-consuming process that only the most committed people attend.

#2  Last year Clinton voters were calling for the primaries to be closed to anyone but registered Democrats, and I think that’s a huge mistake. Dems can’t win elections without the votes of left-leaning independents. “What kind of message is sent to independents about Democrats’ desire for their support in the fall by a nomination process displaying a ‘not welcome’ sign in the spring?” Klain asks. And, frankly, the Democratic Party isn’t helping itself by being more closed off and inbred than it already is. It won’t hurt for the process to reflect the broader views of the electorate. Mischief can be kept to a minimum by barring registered Republicans from voting. Seems sensible to me.

#3 The superdelegates have got to go. I disagree with Klain when he wrote “Superdelegates have never been decisive in the process; they have always ratified the choice of the primary voters.” Clinton fell short of votes to clinch the nomination last year; were it not for the superdelegates it would have been a contested convention. I’m sure she would have won anyway, since she owned the DNC. But it was galling to be reminded, all last year, that Clinton started out with a huge lead because of the superdelegates.

Emma Roller wrote last year, “Left-wing Democrats have long argued that their party’s system of superdelegates is unfair because it gives too much weight to ruling elites, disenfranchising ordinary voters.” Yeah, pretty much. And that’s the last thing Democrats need.

I would go so far as to say that if the Dems haven’t gotten rid of the superdelegates by 2020, it’s going to hurt them. People will remember 2016.

7 thoughts on “Making the Democratic Party Democratic

  1. And if California moves its primary to March, we may get candidates who are inspirational instead of yawn-worthy.

  2. I’d like them to change the order of the primaries so that most of the southern states are not bunched up together early in the process. It gives them too much clout, and in the end they’ll end up voting for the Republican, anyway.

  3. I would put changing primary order top priority given the recommendations at hand.  Hell without the caucuses I would not even know what the typical party member looks like.  I learned that the young energetic and enthusiastic active party members were almost all in the Bernie Sanders camp.  Since press and poling are minimal if not so pathetic as to be non-existent in these parts, and only the newer generation of candidates send even an e-mail on positions and issues, ending caucuses would cut out all useful information.  Good point with that primary order idea. 

  4. Any changes that helps take control of this process out of the hands of the Clintons and party elites is a good thing.

  5. The Democratic Party is the party of the people, a party that cares about public welfare in the largest sense. We need to recommit to the inclusiveness that has characterized the party and to the best interests of the general public, including the needs of the disenfranchised and the disadvantaged. I’m in the cluster of citizens who pay higher than average taxes, and I’m not going to complain about it. It is nothing more or less than investing in this nation and in values and services that we share and need. I don’t agree that independents should be invited to vote in party primaries, as it opens the door to dirty tricks with undesirable consequences. The party does need to listen carefully to the voices of independent voters and to speak to their needs and concerns.

    • FJ The party can either close its primaries to registered Democrats only — a shrinking pool — or it can open primaries to independent voters and call itself inclusive. It can’t do both. Blocking registered Republicans from voting in Dem primaries should keep mischief to a minimum.

  6. Agree with a lot of the above. The south and the middle and the lily white have too much sway. Democratic primaries have much to work on. And independents need to work on their sophistication and education of how they are being used. Problem is so many states have different rules. I wanted to register as independent, but that locks me out of primaries in my state. So I went ahead and registered Dem. I may go to Repub just because it may be more important to vote in Repub primaries and hope to affect who the less objectionable candidate is. For most of us in states controlled by Rs, that may be the best strategy.
    Also the Republican primaries are winner take all. ” U Bum” won many states including states like South Carolina with 30% percent of the republican vote. Because there were so many in the Republican field, the majority vote got shafted and by later in the season, Rs voted for then likely candidate ” U Bum”. It was a snowball effect. But he really won mostly with a small amount of the vote.

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