In a welcome move, by a unanimous vote, the party’s Unity Reform Commission, made up of 21 members selected by Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and DNC Chair Tom Perez, reduced the number of so-called super-delegates to the party’s presidential nominating convention from 715 to 315 and also required them to vote according to the wishes of their respective states.
In the past these superdelegates, were free to vote as they wished and since were usually members of the party establishment, they tended to vote for the establishment’s anointed candidate, giving that person a huge head start in the nomination race. For example, in the last election, there were a total number of 4,763 delegates of whom 4,051 were elected by the states and 712 were superdelgates. Of the superdelegates 602 went for Hillary Clinton and only 48 for Bernie Sanders. Since 2,382 votes were needed to win the nomination, this meant that Clinton needed to win just 1,780 votes in the primaries to get the nomination while Sanders needed to win 2,334, i.e., he had to beat her by a 57-43 margin. This tilted the race heavily in her favor by giving Clinton a huge head start and a psychological boost as well. This does not necessarily mean that she would have lost without this advantage but it did make things very hard for Sanders from the get-go.
But this commission’s reform suggestions are the first step in the process and there is no guarantee that the party’s neoliberal leadership will allow this erosion of their power to select the candidate that they want.
But these recommendations are nowhere close to being officially adopted by the Democratic Party. The Unity Commission’s report is only the first step in a wonky process, and victory is anything but assured. After being finalized, the recommendations are sent to the DNC’s rules and bylaws committee, then to all 447 DNC members in the fall of 2018, where two-thirds support will be needed.
Sanders praised the commission’s work on Saturday in a statement, saying the Democratic Party will not become a “vibrant and successful 50 state party until it opens its doors widely to the working people and young people of our country,” and voting to limit the role of super delegates along with “making our caucuses and primaries more democratic” is the beginning of the process.
“Now it is incumbent on the Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws committee and the membership of the DNC to enact these critical reforms as soon as possible,” he said.
Let’s hope it does so.