Political Focus: After 2016 election anger, DNC abandons superdelegates

Ben Hume, Staff Reporter

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A large number of changes came to how the Democratic National Committee (DNC) runs its party on August 25. In a landmark decision by the Democratic party, the much loathed superdelegates have lost the vast majority of their power, along with more added inclusionary practices. Many of these changes have been long awaited, the superdelegates certainly being the most pertinent.

The minor changes include forcing Democratic presidential nominees to declare in writing that they are a Democrat. This was mostly aimed at Senator Bernie Sanders, who is technically an independent. There is also a large push to overhaul caucuses to be more accessible to a larger number of people.

Speaking of accessibility, gender inclusion and equality is mandatory in committees, caucuses and other bodies. This includes language to expand inclusion to members who are gender nonbinary, which is a great step forward. The DNC also updated its operations and finances to be more transparent, especially important to providing information on candidate fundraising and donations. This information will now be available to all other Democratic candidates as well.

All of that is well and good, but the biggest change is the neutering of the infamous superdelegates. Originally invented by the Democrats after the 1980 election with the expectation that any close primary race would be swung in favor of the “establishment candidate.”

Their technical definition says they are a voting delegate because of their status within the party who is free to vote for any candidate in the primary. This particular part of their definition was widely despised because these delegates are not voted on, and then are allowed to put a large number of votes behind whatever candidate they want, no matter the results of the popular vote.

The primary process is still very confusing, but basically here’s the gistsuperdelegates are no longer allowed to take part in the first ballot voting. This leaves them as glorified tiebreakers, only allowed to vote if no candidate receives a majority in the first round.

Now not all in the DNC were happy about the changes, but many were surprised about how unified the party was on the issue. The largest group against the superdelegate changes was a large number of black caucus members. They were concerned about voter suppression, and while voter suppression is a serious problem, I believe this decision was still a step in the right direction.

This entire vote was a huge breath of fresh air for the Democratic party. The idea of superdelegates was a dated concept, but completely removing them from the system would have been too jarring. I support the half measure of removing their most powerful role while still giving them voting power in the case of a closer race. And the Democratic party agreeing so universally on so many issues was in itself a great step forward. I was very pessimistic recently about the DNC’s ability to adapt and listen to its voter base, but these changes have given me hope that change is a real possibility, which is good.

The Democratic party is still a long way from perfect, but a willingness to compromise and reform is an important step forward.