The Democratic Party has just taken a major step forward towards fulfilling the ideals that our very name represents and giving the voters a bigger say in the party’s inner workings.
In a surprising voice vote, the Democratic National Committee has voted to approve a controversial reform package that would prevent “superdelegates” from voting in the first round of presidential candidate selection and reformed the way that caucuses are run during primary elections.
After two years, three committees, eight Unity Reform commission meetings, and 80 hours of discussion, the measure was finally passed on Saturday when former DNC chair Dan Fowler conceded to the arguments of the Sanders wing of the party and even called for a suspension of the rules for a fast vote — and received a standing ovation.
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While party delegates are usually bound to a candidate by the decisions of the voters in the districts they represent, the superdelegates are free to vote for anyone, and since the superdelegates are largely drawn from Democratic establishment figures and donors, they are thus more inclined and incentivized to vote for the establishment candidate.
This became an issue during the 2016 election when the majority of mainstream media outlets decided to include Clinton’s pledged superdelegates in their delegate totals even though they don’t vote until the convention and even after the DNC asked them not to, artificially inflating her delegate total and creating a perception of inevitability that likely discouraged would-be Sanders supporters. “When people feel like their vote doesn’t count, they’re not going to turn out to vote” noted activist Selina Vickers.
The reform package also included several concessions to the centrist wing of the party, who have long complained that the byzantine caucus system rewards aggressive campaigning and micro organization over candidate quality and general election viability.
Buzzfeed reports that “states that hold caucuses over primaries will be asked to offer same-day registration, publicly report the results of caucus voting, create a mechanism for absentee voting, and ensure that every caucus site is accessible to people with disabilities and English-language limitations,” which is an important step towards making caucuses more democratic and more accessible to all voters.
“It’s time to make history. It’s time to make a clear statement to people who share our values that we trust you. That’s what this package of reforms will do” cheered DNC Chairman Tom Perez, who has been an important advocate for the reform package and the efforts to heal the still-festering wounds from the 2016 primary.
Bernie Sanders stmt on super delegate reform: "Today's decision by the DNC is an important step forward in making the Democratic Party more open, democratic and responsive…I want to thank Tom Perez and all of those who made it happen.”
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) August 25, 2018
It is not hyperbole to say that the fate of the American republic as we know it lies in the upcoming critical election and the 2020 presidential election. The Democratic Party desperately needs to unite its disparate voices and interest groups under one banner if we’re going to retake our government from the white supremacist extremists that currently occupy it — and these reforms are a huge step forward towards a healthier democracy and Democratic Party.