I am a Democrat. I am my own local precinct captain, and I hold a seat on the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee. Over the past four years, I have helped raise millions of dollars for Democrats. I believe in the primary process and intra-party democracy as a means of resolving disputes within the American center-left coalition. I believe in endorsing whoever wins the majority support of the rank and file, no matter who that person may be, as long as it is the result of democratic deliberation within the coalition. The reason I do all of this is because I believe the Democratic Party is an essential institution that the American center-left must utilize in order to have all of its diverse voices heard and, after those disputes are resolved internally, to provide a united front against conservatives on the electoral stage.
With all that said, I also agree with this:
"If 795 of my colleagues decide this election, I will quit the Democratic Party. I feel very strongly about this," Donna Brazile told CNN this week. Brazile, who managed Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000, is herself a super delegate.
If the institution that exists to resolve disputes within the American center-left does not operate according to democratic principles, then I see no reason to continue participating within that institution. If that institution fails to respect democratic principles in its most important internal contest of all--nominating an individual for President of the United States--then I will quit the Democratic Party. And yes, I am perfectly serious about this. If someone is nominated for POTUS from the Democratic Party despite another candidate receiving more poplar support from Democratic primary voters and caucus goers, I will resign as local precinct captain, resign my seat on the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee, immediately cease all fundraising for all Democrats, refuse to endorse the Democratic "nominee" for any office, and otherwise disengage from the Democratic Party through all available means of doing so.
More in the extended entry.
|This is not a negotiable position. If the Democratic Party does not nominate the candidate for POTUS that the majority (or plurality) of its participants in primaries and caucuses want it to nominate, then I will quit the Democratic Party. If you think this is somehow rejecting the rules and bylaws of the Democratic Party, you are wrong. The fact is that there is nothing in the bylaws of the Democratic Party that dictate how super delegates should vote at the Democratic national convention. In the absence of any legal dictation of how they should vote, I will hold them to the principles that make me a Democrat: as the democratic institution through which internal disputes of the American center-left are resolved. If the Democratic Party fails to respect those principles, and their "super" delegates nominate someone for POTUS other than the person who received the most support during Democratic primaries and caucuses, then I fail to see any reason to continue participating in the Democratic Party. If the Democratic Party is not a democratic institution, then to hell with the Democratic Party.
In this country, we have already had to suffer through more than seven years of a President who was not elected with either a majority or a plurality of popular support. The shame and destruction that presidency has brought upon my country would be unimaginable if it were not also real. In addition to everything else that has been said about George W. Bush, hundreds of thousands of people have died as the result of his assumption of the office of President of the United States, an assumption that was against the expressed,
legal democratic wishes of a majority of the American populace. If the most prominent institution within America that ostensibly exists to oppose that Presidency shows equal disrespect to democratic principles, then I will leave that institution and find something else with which to oppose, and hopefully replace, the existing regime.
Democratic leaders in Congress claim to represent us. When they are unable to achieve the goals that we hoped they would when we elected them to public office, they throw their collective hands up in the air and say something to the effect of "elect us more Democrats, and then we will achieve your hopes." If, during the electoral process, they reject the popular choice of members of their own party for the most important office in our country, then it will be clear the entire process has been nothing but a vicious ruse. If they reject our popular choice for President of the United States, and decide instead to install someone else, then any notion that they actually represent us--or even care what we think about anything--can be put to bed once and for all. And, at that point, to hell with them. There could be nothing more American than rejecting that sort of tyranny.
Nothing legally binds super delegates to vote for the popular choice of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers. At the same time, nothing legally binds them from not choosing the popular choice of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers. Let us hope, just as they have always acted in the past, that they will uphold the American principles of democracy by supporting the popular choice of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers for President of the United States. Just like Donna Brazile--one of the most utterly partisan Democratic you will ever find--if such principles do not bind Democratic super delegates when making their choice for POTUS, then I will no longer live under their yoke. In fact, if this happens, I will urge as many people as possible to stop living under their yoke. My partisanship is dependant upon, and stems from, intra-party democracy. Upholding intra-party democracy is now dependant upon the decisions of Democratic super delegates.
Democratic super delegates may have the legal right to thwart the will of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers, but they do no not have the moral right to do so. Continuing to report their preference for the Democratic Presidential nomination in running delegate counts does little other than to ratify and provide consent to an eventuality when those super delegates summarily reject the will of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers. In other words, reporting super delegate totals in running delegate counts accepts that it is just fine for Democratic super delegates to thwart the will of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers. The moral truth of the matter is that such an eventuality is not acceptable. If Democratic super delegates reject intra-party democracy, then I reject their party altogether.
The decision to either uphold or reject intra-party democracy remains entirely within the hands of Democratic super delegates. Given that half a dozen Democratic U.S. Senators endorsed Joe Lieberman even after he lost the Democratic primary, and another half dozen remained "neutral," I am not naïve enough to think that everyone who is a Democratic super delegate shares democratic values in this matter. However, as long as a majority of Democratic super delegates do share these values, intra-party democracy will be upheld and I will remain a Democrat. The day that ends is the day when someone other than the popular choice of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers is nominated for President of the United States. That is the day when I will no longer be a Democrat.
Update: Since so many people assume that by arguing for democracy, that makes me a Barack Obama mouthpiece, you might remember that only a few days ago I argued that super delegates should adhere to the the votes of Democratic primary and caucus goers, and that the Michigan and Florida primaries should determine their pledged delegates at the DNC. And they will, of course, since that is how the Michigan and Florida Democratic parties will form their delegations, and almost certainly how they will be composed at the DNC.