While a number of politicians and commentators are pressuring the Democratic Party to eliminate its superdelegates, Charles Lane in today’s Washington Post has a piece pushing the Republican Party to create a cadre of superdelegates as well.
Defending a role for superdelegates against the populist critiques Bernie Sanders makes of them (when he is not lobbying for their support), Lane writes:
But to the extent he is making a good-faith claim — that it’s undemocratic to allocate a critical mass of convention votes to 700-plus elected officials and other party “regulars,” rather than let primary voters, non-Democrats included, pick new delegates every four years — it’s a simplistic one.
Parties are entitled to think about continuity and electability, without which, obviously, they can never achieve their policy goals. Hence, they’re entitled to favor loyalists, like the superdelegates, and known quantities, like Clinton — for all her flaws — over interlopers, like Sanders.
When Democrats and Republicans have passed through this crucible of disruption and realignment, we will still need them, or some new, improved version, to frame issues, channel political participation, select candidates and, one hopes, forge consensus.
No party can perform any of those functions without the power to differentiate between “one of us” and everyone else.
This is an early signal of the kinds of debates likely to take place in full force after the election, particularly for the Republican Party if Donald Trump loses badly, as I suggested in my own recent Washington Post piece on the history of the nomination process.