Too Close to Call

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Maybe a Brokered Convention wouldn't be a bad thing

The Democratic Party is in a real quandary about what to do if the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama goes on for too much longer.

Will it end in a "brokered convention," where delegates will wheel and deal for votes?

Or will a close race for delegates have to be settled by the so-called "Super Delegates."

As you may know, the Democrats came up with the concept of Super Delegates after the nomination and disastrous defeat of anti-war candidate, George McGovern, in 1972. He was defeated so soundly by Richard Nixon that Party Leaders decided they needed to have a machanism to save the Party from another such disaster, when the voters selected a candidate that had no chance of winning.

The idea was that if someone were selected in the various primaries and caucuses around the U.S., that the Party Leaders felt could not win in November, they could exercise their power to select someone else as the nominee.

Many believe the Super Delegates should merely rubber-stamp the expressed will of the voters, and cast their votes the way the people have from coast to coast.

But remember -- that's not the role of the Super Delegates. Their role is to pick a candidate who will WIN, regardless of what the voters have said.

That certainly doesn't sound very democratic, does it?

It sounds more like the old Soviet Union or the new Russia.

But it is in line with a long tradition in this country of not trusting the people to do the right thing.

The Electoral College, which actually elects the President, is another example of where those allegeldy "in the know," who are members of the U.S. House and Senate, actually elect the President.

And remember, until about 100 years ago, the people in individual states didn't even elect their U.S. Senators! They were appointed by state leaders.

So, the Super Delegates are supposed to exercise restraint and judgment in making sure the person with the best chance of winning the Presidency represents the Democratic Party.

What will happen if the Super Delegates do their job, and throw their votes behind the candidate they think can win, rather than rubber-stamping the outcome of the primaries and caucuses?

Will the Democratic Party, as we have known it for more than 100 years, cease to exist? Remember, there have been other political parties in this country that have come and gone. Anyone remember the Whigs?

What happens if the Party Leaders go against the wishes of the voters and select a candidate...who then LOSES to the Republican nominee? Imagine the finger-pointing that would go on after that!

Which brings me back to the dreaded "brokered convention" option.

Anyone who's over the age of about 40, may remember when all the major TV networks (which were just NBC, CBS and ABC at that time) would carry "gavel-to-gavel" coverage of the Democratic and Republican conventions.

The 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago -- thrown into dis-array after Lyndon Johnson decided not to seek re-election and after the murder of Robert F. Kennedy -- put an end to that. What made for exciting TV -- the riots, the fighting, the roughing up of TV reporters -- made the parties decide to turn these quadrennial events into mere coronations, with every move highly choreographed. Viewers reacted to these extended commercials by tuning out in droves. Eventually, the conventions were relegated to cable or clips on the nightly news.

A good old-fashioned, wide-open, no-holds-barred convention would be great TV and might even get people more involved in politics again.

But don't hold your breath. That's way to risky for any party to allow.

Keep watching. This could get very interesting!

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