Because apparently I was thinking very fuzzily. Yesterday I wrote, among a list of things that have annoyed me:
The US Electoral College system. Did you know that Clinton won New Hampshire? According to the CNN article I linked there, it’s true – in the only way that really matters. She got more delegates than he did, even though he won about 50% more of the popular vote. But it depends how you count – other articles say he had 13 delegates and she has 9. The discrepancy appears to be because she’s got a bunch of “superdelegates”, who can support whoever they want. (ETA: Here’s a clear explanation.) This is an evil system, for a few reasons. First, if you tell people they have a representative democracy and get their vote counted proportionally when in actuality there are a bunch of unelected party officials (and former officials) steering from the backseat, that is what we technically call a “lie”. Second, I actually kind of understand how those superdelegates hark back to the original intentions of the Founding Fathers, only it doesn’t work. Jefferson wrote about this very clearly. The original point of the Electoral College (in a time without computerized counting of ballots) was that citizens would each elect the wisest local person they knew, and then those wise men in each state (of course they were men) would gather together and choose their candidate for President. He (Jefferson) opined that this two stage system tended to choose better than a direct election would. Maybe he was right, but you can’t tell that from our current ridiculous system of pledged and unpledged candidates. The problem here is, citizens don’t get to choose those unpledged delegates. They are a shadow electorate, forged in the bowels of party machines.
Except the superdelegates aren’t part of the Electoral College, because they’re part of the primary elections, not the general. And the primaries are basically the internal workings of the two major US political parties – how each one chooses the candidate they’ll put forth for the general election. We’ve institutionalized the two parties to where we think of them as official governmental groups, but they are really not – as far as I know, they are still private organizations who can organize themselves as they see fit.
1. I still don’t like the Electoral College, because while I think it was needed logistically once upon a time and had a laudable goal, I do not think either of those things are still true, and it takes us a step away from true representive democracy.
2. I do not like the superdelegate system (though I don’t blame candidates for using it, because they have to work within the system they have) because I think that a system where some people’s votes count more than others is unfair.
But they are two separate things – and since superdelegates are essentially a private matter within each party, I don’t think electoral reform can clean out those stables.