I'm Right Again Dot Com
A new commentary every Wednesday — February
The operative word in the following is "insiders." The scene was set in a descriptive phrase first used by Kirke Simpson, a reporter for Associated Press, a national news wire service for the media. It was June 12, 1920 and the bigwig bosses of the Republican Party consisted mostly of the captains of industry and political bosses. They decided who would be the party's candidate for president, and that year they were deadlocked over a tie vote of pledged delegates who wished to nominate General Leonard Wood and those pledged to back Republican Governor Frank Lowden of Illinois.
Simpson described "smoke-filled" room number 303 in Chicago's elegant Blackhawk hotel, when twelve, perhaps as many as fifteen (The smoke was too heavy to tell just how many) men, bleary-eyed for lack of sleep, who sat down around a table, and at two in the morning decided among themselves to select a compromise candidate, Warren G. Harding, by switching votes. Simpson neglected to mention the presence of any liquid lubricant, this being during the time when Prohibition was becoming the law of the land.
No coin-flip then. They simply ignored the will of those who had sent them to Chicago. Harding was elected that year, but died suddenly of a heart attack in San Francisco in 1923, while on a speaking tour.
The tobacco smoke no longer exists where the politicos continue to gather, but there is an element that has come into being in recent decades that still smacks of insider influence on our politics: The superdelegates. "Yes," they answer, "but we are the stalwarts who go to endless meetings, find the candidates, help finance their campaigns, attend the rallies and get out the vote."
According to Wikipedia, "A superdelegate is an unpledged delegate to their party's national convention who is seated "automatically," whatever that is meant to convey, and makes his or her choice for party candidate, based on, well, a political reason, one of which is the other delegates' consensus about who will best lead the party and the country...but first, the one best likely to get elected.
I was somehow recently caused to learn that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders each had thus far gained 51 delegates pledged to vote for them at the Democratic Party National Convention in Philadelphia, come July 25 of this year. Clinton is ahead of Sanders, she says, because she has at that moment "locked-in" 451 superdelegates, while Sanders has only 11. I am not able to differentiate between "pledged" and "locked-in," but I'm sure someone out there on the fruited plain will inform me.
It's pretty obvious however, that officials for each party are reluctant to cede control to unsophisticated voters. Again, the magic word is "insiders." For Republicans, there are generally (Wikipedia's word) three superdelegates from each state, consisting of the state chairperson for the Grand Old Party and three Republican National Committee members.
On a final note, as a registered Independent in Arizona, I'm not allowed to vote in the primary election, and that makes sense to me. However, officials at many levels urge that we Independents change our registration for a few hours and become a temporary member of any of the three parties on the general election ballot—Democratic, Green Party or Republican— then after the primary election, re-register as an Independent voter. Somehow, that seems wishy-washy at the least, if not dishonest.
-Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself." - Joseph L. Menchen
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