Why Superdelegates Who Will Choose the Nominee Should Vote Bernie


Just like in 2008, it’s all coming down to the super delegates. Obama’s win was secured when 2/3 of the superdelegates decided that he would be the better Democratic candidate for president. In order to restore democracy and prevent the Democratic Party from committing hari kiri, the super delegates should vote to give Bernie Sanders the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

If Obama represented “hope and change” on immigration, climate change, and health care; Sanders represents the future of the party through bold foreign and domestic policy positions that have brought him ahead or close in national polls. His hark back to FDR-style politics — including investment in infrastructure, schools, and people — and his flat rejection of the neoliberal and neocon politics practiced by Hillary Clinton and her family has led to a new electoral energy. Bernie’s politics and his candidacy must represent our future.

So say Democrats, with whom he polls a majority after almost an unbelievable rise (although thanks to a corrupt political, media and corporate establishment that benefits Clinton more than any politician ever, Sanders has only 45 percent of the pledged delegate count.) So say the young generation who have often voted for him in 7:1, who represent the future of our country. So say independents, a category that describes more citizens than either major political party, who seek a candidate opposing rampant militarism and unfair trade policies.<

But the superdelegates aren’t listening. To be fair, some never were.

Back in November, three months before the first vote had been cast, at least 359 of the 712 had already aligned themselves with Clinton, versus just 8 with Sanders. Clinton claimed 500. Now the gap is 520 to 39, with the rest undecided. But it’s important to note that, as has been broadly said, they can change their mind at any time. And, at their best, they are protection against the voters choosing someone profoundly flawed. Today we have such a candidate: one out of touch with the populus and her party; who has plummeted in trustworthiness and the polls as voters learn more about her; one potentially facing indictment from the FBI for violating the Espionage Act; and one with many secrets relating to her family foundation, her emails, and her speeches. Superdelegates, step up.

First, let’s explain that superdelegates will most likely determine the election. It would take Hillary Clinton amassing 69 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to gain the nomination without superdelegate support. Sanders would need 98 percent. Neither scenario is likely.

In contrast, assuming a 50-50 split in remaining delegates, Sanders would need 72 percent – 6 percent more than Obama in 2008 – to clinch the nomination. But the situation isn’t comparable. Hillary’s weaknesses are far greater in the current political climate. Also, Obama had four times as many debates scheduled at more watchable times and much more fair media coverage. But we’ll explore the details of what should be their rationale later …


Let’s start with the basics. Are superdelegates’ support today at all representative of voters and caucusgoers in the Democratic primary? No. Pledged delegates, awarded close to proportionally based on the popular vote or caucus activity, have split 55 percent to 45 percent for Hillary.

Yet she has a full 88 percent of those who have voiced support in states that have voted. On average, by state, the superdelegates have pledged 37.5 percent more support than pledged delegates, which are a good approximation of the popular vote. Let’s take an example. If the popular vote as represented by pledged delegates was split 50-50, that state would have 87.5 percent of their declared superdelegates supporting Clinton. (Undeclared superdelegates are excluded from this calculation.)

In fact, in 41 of the 43 U.S. states and territories that have voted, superdelegates have a bias towards Clinton (the only two exceptions, Mississippi and Arkansas, have just 5 and 4 such votes). With the nine states with the most pledged delegates, the average is 40 percent. Washington state superdelegates pick Clinton a whopping 73 percent more than the caucus-goers chose.

It’s inexplicable. Except that it’s not. The majority of superdelegates are candidates for office (with others being lobbyists). The average Senate seat costs over $10 million, with the average House seat coming in at $1.7 million. The Democratic National Committee helps with campaigning and fundraising. Run by former Clinton 2008 co-chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, it has made numerous decisions broadly viewed as helping Clinton, while hurting democracy and Sanders.

Clinton is now cranking up donations from the wealthy and corporations, breaking Democratic precedents, and relying on unethical practices in an attempt to take full, unprecedented advantage of that link. Her joint fundraising committee, the Hillary Victory Fund, raises funds for 33 state parties.

Her aggressive fundraising is unusual as: 1) presidential candidates usually enter agreements with their parties committees only after they win the nomination, 2) it takes full advantage of the McCutcheon vs. FEC Supreme Court decision and a later Congressional provision to accept checks of up to $353,400, and 3) it accepts money from lobbyists despite President Obama’s decisions not to do so.

Clinton has also engaged in bizarre practices (in what’s been described as laundering) as donations are sent back to the state parties then back to the DNC where they work for her. She’s used it to court small donors even as she maxes out of many (nearly 60 percent for her vs. 2.3 percent for Sanders). The Sanders campaign has questioned this practice. Public Citizen’s Craig Holman said it is “offensive, and it should be illegal.” The recent Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening protests identified money in politics as the top threat to democracy. How can Clinton be viewed as someone who will fix it?

Sometimes people ask why Sanders hasn’t built a progressive coalition of Democrats. Yet many have spoken of the impossibility of a campaign not funded by corporations and the wealthy (before he brought in $140 million, mostly from small donors and donations.) He did this even as he was alternately ignored, written off, and disparaged by the media, who ignored his yuuge events and soaring polls. He changed the dialogue on virtually every issue and changed Clinton’s positions (at least for now) on most of them. And he is now supporting fundraising for some progressive candidates. By any standard, his accomplishments are tremendous.  As Jesse Jackson (who Sanders endorsed) complained during his 1988 run for the presidency: if he walked on water, the headlines would read “Jackson can`t swim!”

It’s time to hold our superdelegates – who represent 30 percent of the votes needed to win the nomination – accountable to American voters, regardless of the favors they have been offered. Come November, many voters will ask the following questions: “Should I even vote for a Democratic Congressional representative?” “Are we aligned on the big issues (say climate, trade, guns, and our support of Bernie)?” And for president, “Do I want to vote the ‘lesser of two evils’ or neither?”


As mentioned earlier, our expectation might be as citizens that the superdelegates’ votes would mirror their states’ results. But there are many reasons why the superdelegates should far exceed the popular vote. In a democracy with a functioning media and election system, Sanders would likely have established a winning margin of at least 10 to 15 points.

Media bias for Hillary – The establishment, mainstream corporate media has been strongly pro-Hillary. One study found they gave her as much coverage as Trump last year, while Bernie was ignored with 1/23rd the coverage of either. His numbers have soared when voters learn about him, so the media’s failure to cover Bernie is a major part of the reason he often loses the early vote (often before he campaigns in a state), but runs evenly or far better against Hillary on election days. (Another voting day reality has been election day coverage has deceptively and disproportionately covered early votes, likely leading many not to vote.)

But it’s gone beyond that. As the media has run through the steps of Gandhi’s famous quote, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” Clinton has adopted a sophisticated, unethical media strategy. Hillary and her surrogates (with undisclosed ties) rely on the media promoting her misleading statements, changing the subject at her whim, and highlighting her successes. Her first debate “win” used at least four carefully crafted deceptive or lying answers to allow the media to declare it a “win,” which gave her crucial momentum. Over time, she and supporters deceptively mischaracterized Bernie’s broad movement-based campaign as being just about the banks and his health care plan as causing millions to lose insurance. She championed a minimum wage hike in New York she’s never supported nationally, after husband Bill Clinton’s series of patronizing statements towards a #blm protestor. She and her supporters almost continually make bizarre assertions. If the issue at hand doesn’t favor her (and really almost none do), a new talking point or shallow policy announcement is all it takes to change media focus. It’s important to note this bias spans the so-called liberal press, with even the Washington Post slamming Bernie at an unprecedented pace. New York Times columnists who have spent decades trying to overturn oppressive structures make snarky and misleading statements in almost every op-ed about the one politician who has done the most to advance their causes in years. While it’s hard to say how significant this bias has been in determining election results, it’s easy to imagine a world in which reporting was unbiased and independents could vote in primaries resulting in Sanders leading by 20-plus points. Certainly, as has been broadly acknowledged, the media’s heavy coverage gave Republican front-runner Trump enormous momentum.

“Establishment” institutions failed to champion progressive priorities – This profoundly unethical media establishment behavior has been aggravated by those of establishment institutions: colleges, “left leaning” think tanks, large nonprofits, the DNC, many Democratic politicians, and arts institutions. Together these institutions have largely failed to advocate in a substantive way for progressive priorities. This occurred as they have increasingly been funded by foreign governments, multinational corporations, and hedge fund and private equity managers.

Clinton often mocks Sanders’ use of the word “establishment,” e.g., her funders and allies, even while she refuses to repeat an early line in numerous speeches of his “the top 1/10th of 1 percent have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.” The reality is her campaign was built on positions that represent the party’s incredible rightward, business-friendly drift. But how does she explain the minimal science-based coverage of environmental causes of cancer, man’s role in devastating climate change, unfair trade that’s tied to widespread underemployment and poverty and the plummeting of our mental and physical health, even as corporations have run wild? Yes, establishment institutions have paid some attention, but in a way that ignores the role of corporate perpetrators and class, beyond touting them as valuable partners in her neoliberal world view (see Tom Frank’s “Nor a Lender Be” for the subversive, deceptive way corporate partnerships are championed by the Clinton Foundation.) In fact, Bernie’s campaign should never have felt revelatory or inspirational. It’s only the purposeful brushing aside of our citizens’ realities, even as media transfixes us with so-called reality-based entertainment, that make it so.

Some may think the media and institutional black hole have made Sanders more appealing. In actuality, it has largely worked against him as people have been more unfamiliar the basic truths of injustice and power, as well as Clinton’s ties to them, when they’ve gone to the polls.

Voting “irregularities” and stolen and missing votes – Large-scale electoral failures and fraud favor Clinton. There are the improbable Iowa coin flips and Bill Clinton’s potential voter violation felony campaigning for his wife and causing delays in Massachusetts (which may have prevented Sanders’ fifth win on Super Tuesday and a media narrative of Sanders’ strength). Arizona closed many polling places (even as Sanders won the election day vote), delays were of many hours, most provisional ballots were discarded, and registrations flipped to prevent voting. Weeks later, it was more chaos: in New York, where 125,000 Brooklynites (just miles from Clinton’s Brooklyn office and in Sanders’ hometown) were dropped from the voting rolls in one of the few areas Clinton won. There were also more flipped registrations and exit polls that differed from polling results in an extremely unlikely manner (with odds of 1 in 123,000.)  The reported votes Sanders received even decreased (?!) It’s interesting she’s repeatedly hit his supposed weakness in primaries. It’s true when people caucus and there appears to be less fraud, Sanders is more likely to win.

Of course, even the structure seems rigged – the lockout of independents and the requirement to change parties sometimes very early (which even prevented two Trump kids from voting) – rules that seem designed to favor incumbents. The inclusion of parties like the American Independent Party in California also appear aimed at the same end.

Deceptive campaign – For someone who is, along with her supporters, highly attuned to sexist behavior that results in unfair advantage, she has been shockingly deceptive. Much is amplified by the media, who willingly supports the false narratives she promotes. And while it’s true she skirts the line so most of her statements aren’t actual lies (see Media Bias for Hillary) they promote dishonest beliefs about both her and Sanders’ records. The term gaslighting: mental abuse by employing twisted and false information is appropriate (as well as it’s discussion in the link above. Hillary, this is not what democracy looks like.

The slimy strategies have extended to campaign activity and the social media: push polling for Hillary and phone calls made from Sanders’ phone banks by her supporters. Hillary trolls took down most of Sanders’ Facebook pages. A pro-Clinton SuperPAC is spending $1 million to attack Sanders on social media.

In summary, it becomes clear that Clinton’s campaign and supporters have heavily exploited and/or benefited from a corrupt fourth estate and election rigging, as well as a widespread ignorance of progressive policies and Clinton’s record. The superdelegates should take these acts into account when reviewing the votes from their states and across the nation, and making their choices.


But even more important are Hillary’s prospects. So far the election has been remarkably clean. But once one looks at undercovered political realities, it becomes clear that Sanders is a far better Democratic candidate.

This expose by Abby Martin shows an implicit quid pro quo with massive exchanges of money and favors and Clinton’s extraordinarily hawkish behavior. The Secretary would be easy to outskirt her both on the left and the right, and to smear for her lack of integrity.

She doesn’t seem honest – The more people get to know her, the less they like her, as many trend lines showing Sanders closing a 50-point gap illustrate. A poll two months ago found 37 percent describe her as “honest and trustworthy.” We continually hear about how few people like and trust her. Yet her statements continue to be carefully crafted and easy to expose as highly deceptive. Also the former “Goldwater girl” will have trouble explaining her evolution on almost every major issue – a revolution from within perhaps, when we need a revolution outside.

Democrats, in particular, like their politicians to be honest and working in the public interest, and independents, who comprise an estimated 42 percent of the electorate, are in the mood for truth also. If she’s seen as dishonest now — even after an extremely clean, positive campaign (especially in light of her weaknesses) – how will she be perceived after Trump or Cruz launches 1000 times more attacks based on the truths of her life? Are we to believe it would not take a toll?

She polls weakly with independents – Even now, Clinton polls extremely low with independents, falling behind Sanders by 36 points with those who make up the largest demographic. So her strength in the primary, particularly as it builds on the reliably Republican states of the South, atrophies when it comes to the general election.

She loses Democratic votes – Clinton loses many more Sanders voters than the other way. An estimated 20 to 25 percent of his supporters say they won’t vote for her (and it’s hard to see how it will change given her intractability) vs. 3 percent of her supporters. There are likely many reasons for that – her campaign has indisputably emphasized this time around the significance of a female president, identity politics that grates on many Democrats who expected a female Democratic candidate to have, if anything, a strong commitment to social justice and peace, rather than to corporate entitlement and war. And the repeated lecturing of millennials and women by Clinton’s supporters hardly helps.

His supporters are looking for a leader that champions systemic change. Their differences are captured in the common memes with she and Kasich as the only two candidates to vote for if you believe “Shit isn’t broken” (but a vote for her for those who believe “women are people.”) Sanders has long been fighting the system. A second meme says, “For every mistake America has made in past 30 years you can go and find a video of Bernie Sanders trying to prevent it” (the Panama free trade agreement, cutting taxes on the rich, the crime bill, etc.) Yes, his supporters stand for equal pay and reproductive access, but they take a hard stand on militarism, corrupt corporate finance, inequality, health care and other issues.

She May Like Thinking Small, But FDR is In — “I don’t think any Democrat’s ever won saying, ‘We can’t think that big — we ought to really downsize here because it’s not realistic,’” Vice President Joe Biden said on April 21. “C’mon man, this is the Democratic Party! I’m not part of the party that says, ‘Well, we can’t do it.’”

Interestingly enough Clinton has endorsed rapid change when it benefits corporations – for example on war and trade – even while she urges caution in implementing government programs to help the American population. It’s pragmatism for government and the people, pedal to the metal for corporations. But why should only corporations be able to think big?

Despite Hillary Clinton announcing her campaign on Roosevelt Island, she does not represent the heir apparent to these ideas. With her embrace of globalization and buddying up to corporations financially, she represents the policies that have shifted power to corporations and left the vast majority of Americans served by predatory corporations and banks, and with little financial cushion. (In fact, Tom Frank’s “What’s the Matter With the Democratic Party?” – called “Listen Liberal” – has been described as the most important book of 2016.) That attitude – and an unconvincing commitment to relatively new Sanders-endorsed policies that hurt her long-time, significant donors – generally doesn’t play well to much of the electorate.

She polls worse against Trump and Cruz – Ah, the electability question. There has long been polling data that indicates Sanders beats Trump by 14 points or more, far more than Clinton, and the Vermont Senator is more competitive against Cruz also.

She has secrets and may have committed crimes Every day, people everywhere ask questions about Hillary Clinton that no one should ask about a presidential candidate. Is today the day she’ll get indicted for her e-mail activity? If she does get indicted, presumably for violating the Espionage Act (ironically used heavily and unfairly by the Obama administration with little criticism from her), how will it affect her polling? What if she’s not indicted due to political pressure, but the material leaks out? What’s in the e-mails that should be FOIAable? What’s in all those speeches to Goldman Sachs and others (in the last few years 12 speeches to Wall Street banks that netted her $3 million)? How did contributions to the Clinton Foundation affect arms deals, militarism, climate and energy policy, and oppressive policies at home and abroad? These are things virtually ignored by Sanders that will and probably should be up for fair game in the general election.

Her history and record seem nonexistent – A common meme shows Sanders as having far more political experience. In particular also, Clinton’s legislative accomplishments as senator were unimpressive, while “Amendment King” Sanders left a lasting and substantial legislative record, a story irrationally later changed by the New York Times who undoubtedly had a heart attack when they realized they had written a positive story about Sanders (and yes, NYT, diversity would be great.) Clinton has very little to show for her time as Secretary of State (she shies away from Honduras, “Hillary’s War” in Libya, her promotion of fracking abroad, etc.) and head of the Clinton Foundation. In contrast, Sanders’ videos make us wish we elected him president in 2000.

Today’s thinkers and activists oppose her – The great raft of intellectuals, writers and activists deeply devoted to social justice, largely permanent outsiders uninterested in lobbying for a job in the administration, overwhelmingly favor Sanders. Sure, the revolving door types that have architected and championed unfettered globalization and are unconcerned with gaping holes in our safety net favor Clinton. But we should instead turn to the new guides we will need, as we caste off the corrupt models of the past and present.

What do the thought leaders of the future say? Those who have shone spotlight on corruption, warned us of against systemic oppression, and pointed us in a better direction? The vast majority support Sanders. All have concerns about a Hillary presidency: “The New Jim Crow” author Michelle Alexander, MacArthur genius award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The End of Poverty” author Jeffrey Sachs, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, “Chi-Raq” director Spike Lee, author Noam Chomsky, actress and activist Rosario Dawson, former State Sen. Nina Turner, inequality expert Les Leopold, professor Cornel West, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, “Capital in the 21st Century” author Tom Piketty, long-time whistleblower Sy Hersh, and “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” author Tom Frank, and pioneering feminist bell hooks. (Even the real life inspiration for “Wall Street’s” Gordon Gekko offers a sound economic critique.)

These are people who often speak unpleasant truths to power. People whose warnings we should have heeded and whose wise counsel should have followed. Those who have offered a strong and consistent vision of creating a society of justice – free of the racism, militarism, and poverty (and sexism) that has lay at the heart of our most important social movements.

It would be a mistake to assume while the battle is being waged for the Republican party, there is not an equally fierce and important battle for the soul of the Democratic party. It’s being waged over the leadership, institutionally and politically; the means of fundraising; the priorities up and down the ticket; the platform; the behavior that we tolerate; the meaning of democracy and how it applies to politicians; and the scope and vision for our nation.  Casting away a politician favored by millennials, by Democrats and independents, by devoted intellectuals, discarding an uncharacteristically bold senator who has been screwed by a rigged system and sophisticated techniques of manipulation would be tremendously harmful to our nation.

The fate of our country lies with those who have not yet voted, with those who remain politically active, and with the superdelegates. Ultimately it’s the last who could potentially have the greatest role – endorsing today and following up at a convention where they will make a choice that determines the future of this election and the vision of the Democratic party. They’ve seen what’s above. They know what is happening. It’s past time to make a choice for freedom, truth, peace, justice, and opportunity. Superdelegates, #FeeltheBern.


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Veena Trehan writes on policy and the responsibilities of politicians and institutions. She has written for Reuters, Bloomberg News and NPR. Trehan is an active citizen with a passion for issues including inequality and human rights, environmental justice, and the safety of women on college campuses. Before her career in journalism, she worked in government consulting and information technology. Trehan studied Electrical Engineering at MIT and did a Master’s in Journalism on a Reuters Fellowship.