Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Phil Bredesen's Superdelegate Solution

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen wrote an op-ed for the New York Times this morning suggesting a solution for the Democrats' superdelegate dilemma.  He proposes holding a "superdelegate primary" immediately after all the primaries are completed on June 3rd.  The superdelegates' votes would then be bound to the results of the primary, guaranteeing the nomination to one of the candidates before the convention in August.  This way, he hopes to allow the Democratic party to use the summer months to focus on the general election, rather than determining the nominee:

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could each still believe that the nomination could be his or hers at the national convention in Denver in August.

In that situation, we would then face a long summer of brutal and unnecessary warfare. We would face a summer of growing polarization. And we would face a summer of lost opportunities — lost opportunities to heal the wounds of the primaries, to fill the party’s coffers, to offer unified Democratic ideas for America’s challenges.
Governor Bredesen's proposal makes much sense.  As he points out, the superdelegates will have all the information they need to make their selection once the primaries are completed.  While some have suggested that the superdelegates should reserve their votes in case one of the candidates becomes unelectable between, I view this as a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy.  If making the other candidate unelectable is the only way Senators Clinton and Obama can obtain the nomination, they are certain to spend the summer months trying to make the other appear unelectable.  We have already seen the results of their in-fighting:  Senator McCain now leads them both in national polls.

The "superdelegate primary" would allow the superdelegates to be scrutinized as a group among themselves, outside of the politicking that will occur at the convention.  It will give the Democrats the time they desperately need to bring the party back together.  While I would prefer an agreement by the superdelegates to follow their local election results, I believe Governor Bredesen has proposed the next best solution.

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