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Too Much Democracy

Reacting to the modest reforms that the DNC Unity Commission made over the weekend (e.g. reducing - not eliminating - superdelegates), a pair of political scientists say, "Whoah, hold on there. Is the Democratic Party Becoming Too Democratic?". Here's their core argument:

Casting doubts about a party's legitimacy -- in particular picking a presidential nominee -- can have real electoral consequences. In 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders highlighted Hillary Clinton's contributions from well-heeled donors, and particularly her strong support among the party's superdelegates, as signals that the nomination contest had been fixed for her and that the only way for the Democratic Party to be a truly democratic party would be to nominate Mr. Sanders.

By the spring of 2016, democratic legitimacy was the overwhelming rationale of his campaign. In the general election, roughly one Sanders supporter in 10 ended up voting for Donald Trump, and many young voters defected for third-party candidates, possibly costing Mrs. Clinton the election in several key states.

Never mind that less Bernie voters voted for Trump than Clinton voters voted for Obama. Imagine thinking that those voters would have been more likely to vote for Clinton if they weren't given a voice at all. Don't appeal to voters, just tell them to get in line.

Just to spell it out a little better: the article acknowledges that the primary process isn't very democratic. It then says that the problem is that candidates might complain that the process isn't democratic, which will influence voters. And so the authors' proposed solution isn't to make the process more democratic, it's to eliminate the pretense of being democratic all together. Smokey Back Rooms 2020!

By fnord12 | December 11, 2017, 12:26 PM | Liberal Outrage