Sunday, June 28, 2009

Democrats begin primary reform effort

Let's try this again:

One year after the country got an in-depth lesson on "superdelegates," the Democratic Party may consider doing away with them in the future.
It was just over one year ago when Barack Obama accumulated more delegates than Hillary Clinton, causing the former first lady to end her historic campaign to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

But there is no rest for the weary.

The lengthy, expensive, and often divisive 2008 Democratic nominating process caused the launch of a Democratic National Committee review of how to tweak the primary and caucus process to avoid some of the pitfalls exposed in the Obama vs. Clinton battle royale last year.
The DNC's "Change Commission" met for the first time yesterday. Hopefully they have better luck than the previous reform group that saw things just get worse in 2008.

At the beginning of today's meeting, the co-chair of the Change Commission Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., described the group's mission as focused on "changing the window of time in which primaries and caucuses may be held, reducing the number of superdelegates, and improving the caucus system."

The Change Commission spent its first gathering on a fact-finding mission hearing presentations from various experts and scholars on the nomination process.

Touching on what may prove to be one of the more contentious issues considered by the DNC, one presenter, Democratic Party activist and Harvard University lecturer and former superdelegate Elaine Kamarck, suggested that it may be time to completely eliminate superdelegates since most of those party leaders clearly determined their role in 2008 to be one of ratifying the decision made by voters in primaries and caucuses.

"We can probably let go of the superdelegates," said Kamarck.

"Their deliberative role," she added, "has in fact been supplanted by a very very public process."
In addition to the future of superdelegates, the quadrennial turf war over which states get to go first in the nomination season will be up for discussion with Iowa and New Hampshire once again posed to defend their influential role in selecting presidential nominees. Iowa's role in launching the Obama candidacy will likely go a long way in protecting its status.

Ms. Kamarck warned the commission about engaging "in an endless fight in who goes first" and suggested instead that the members change their thinking and focus on how to "equalize the importance of other voters in other states down the line."
The superdelegates should, of course, be gotten rid of completely or at least have their influence reduced to a neglible level. But the more important issues is ending the influence of Iowa and New Hampshire and their ability to change the primary schedule through their antics, so one hopes the commission will find some way to make this process fairer to the other 48 states and territories that vote as well.

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