Denver in August: Brace for a shootout
The final scene of many western movies involves a shootout between the forces of goodness and light and those of darkness and evil. Come to think of it, for those who enjoy shootouts, the Democratic National Convention to be held in Denver this August promises to be an Academy Award Winner.
In order to win the Democrat presidential nomination, one candidate needs to have amassed 2,025 delegates. Delegates are earned by a combination of the results of party caucuses or primary elections held within the states and territories of the United States and by 795 party insiders – elected Democrat officials – known as superdelegates.
As of this writing, the delegate and vote totals shown at: www.realclearpolitics.com are as follows: Senator Barak Hussein Obama has earned 1,301 delegates. His popular vote total is: 9,377,155. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has earned 1,235 delegates and a popular vote total of: 8,670,342. But even though Senator Clinton is behind Senator Obama right now, more contests are yet to be decided.
Yet, if there is no clear winner following the final Democrat caucus in Puerto Rico on June 7, 2008, the eventual nominee to face the Republican nominee in the general election on November 4, 2008, could well be decided by those 795 superdelegates.
Some of those superdelegates have already pledged to vote at the convention for Senator Obama and some have pledged to vote for Senator Clinton. Some of the superdelegates have yet to pledge to vote for either candidate.
The superdelegate concept was invented by the Democratic National Committee to act somewhat like the Electoral College – a safeguard against a popular vote gone wild. Should all those “little people” out there at the caucuses and voting booths do something really nutty like try to nominate, well, [you fill in a name here], the superdelegates might be able to restore sanity to process.
Meanwhile, both the Obama and Clinton camps are making phone calls to their already pledged superdelegates to shore up their resolve. Likewise, calls are being made to lure superdelegates to abandon their earlier pledges and come over to the other side. Moreover, enormous efforts are being made to secure the loyalty of those unpledged superdelegates who have yet to side with either candidate.
Just imagine being a Democrat county commissioner or city council person who receives a phone call from former President Bill Clinton who says, “Hey, pal. I’m sure looking forward to shaking your hand in Denver this August. Ya’ll be sure and drop by our suite and let Hillary give you a big hug. Bring your camera. I’ll have someone take a picture of the three of us. What? Your family is coming? Okay, we’ll do a whole-family photo. Ya’ll are still with us. Right?”
That’s pretty seemly. But, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, “While it would be unseemly for candidates to hand out thousands of dollars to primary voters, or to the delegates pledged to represent the will of those voters, elected officials serving as superdelegates have received about $890,000 from Obama and Clinton in the form of campaign contributions.”
Assume present trends continue and Senator Obama goes into the convention leading Senator Clinton. Yet, when all the smoke in Denver’s non-smoke-filled-hotel-rooms settles, Senator Clinton emerges as the Democrat nominee. This is not, however, to suggest that any of those 795 superdelegates might be subject to the Law of Human Frailties. Nah.
But, on the other hand, the Law of Supply and Demand is still in effect. Demand would be extremely high. Supply limited to just 795 votes. Moreover, the Law of Unintended Consequences hasn’t been repealed either.
So, while the superdelegate idea might have seemed like a good idea at the time, it has the potential of creating a party-splitting shootout that would make the infamous Grand Lake, Colorado, shootout of July 4, 1883, seem like a snowball fight.
Syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, William Hamilton is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a former research fellow at the U.S. Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He is also a former assistant professor of History and Political Science at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Writing with his wife, Penny, he is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2008. William Hamilton.