Swift Law #8: Every reform carries with it the seeds of abuse that will require the next reform.
Corollary: The longer a reform lasts, the fewer people remember what prompted it.
The corollary references the frenzy in some quarters in the Barak Obama camp that the Super Delegates were a plot by the Clintons to steal the Democratic nomination. Well, I think the idea of Super Delegates is kinda dumb, but they are not a plot by the Clintons or anyone else. I should admit that I was a Super Delegate once or twice but in those cases we really weren’t determinant.
Creating Super Delegates was a reform of a reform. Once upon a time long, long ago – in the 1970s – many Democrats came to believe that the crusty old party leaders (hacks, they called them) had too tight control of the party apparatus. It was much too hard for new people and new thinking to be treated seriously. And it was true. So reform was soon afoot.
But, as so often with reforms, it went over the top. When they were done reforming, Democratic county conventions in my state and across the land were dominated by people most of us never saw before and none of us ever saw again. They weren’t bad folks. They just weren’t active Democrats.
So we needed to reform the reform which, unfortunately, resulted in the creation of Super Delegates. The idea was they would be party leaders at many levels and many elected officials who would bring some balance and experience to party deliberations: like keeping in mind the need to win elections.
As it turned out, the Super Delegates never were actually very important. Primaries and caucuses opened the local process and the potential for that to be way-laid by an “inside game” disappeared –– until now. In the meantime many people have forgotten and many more didn’t even know Super Delegates existed, let alone what they were there for.
This is the first time since their invention that they might make a difference and the party finds itself in the position that if they do the whole thing could backfire and seriously divide the party. Interestingly, it is not just Obama’s supporters – who tend to be young, college educated, black or some combination of that) that might feel cheated. If things go he other way, Hillary’s supporters – who tend toward blue collar, women and Hispanics – could be just as aggrieved.
One might say to former Sen. McGovern, the father of the long ago reforms, “It’s a fine mess you got us into this time, George.”
This may all prove irrelevant: a tempest in a tea pot to give the media something to report. But for those who were/are alarmed by the shadow Super Delegates are casting over the messy procession to the Democratic nomination, it is worth remembering it was not a conspiracy. ” Rather, those careless reforms of the 70s call for the application of Taylor’s First Law. “Do not ascribe to conspiracy that for which stupidity will suffice for an answer.”