Thursday, May 8, 2008

Vox populi?

Would the superdelegates actually pick Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama? Ross Douthat says no. His argument is that, while Americans might have been okay with party elites picking a candidate at a convention a few years ago, they would find this unacceptable today. (This argument totally ignores what happened in 1968, but whatever.) In Douthat's words,
When you listen to analysts and politicians talk about the primary process, there's a clear consensus that the spectacle of a convention in which superdelegates "overturn what's happened in the elections," as Nancy Pelosi famously put it, would be disastrous for the Democratic Party. And Pelosi's choice of the word "overturn" tells you why: It implicitly makes the will of the people, however imperfectly and haphazardly expressed (an open primary here, a closed primary there, a caucus elsewhere), the arbiter of legitimacy, and consigns to the dustbin of history the old idea that the convention is an integral part of the candidate-selection process, and that party leaders should have as much of a say in who gets to be their standard-bearer as primary voters and caucusgoers.
Call me nuts, but didn't we pick a president a few years back based on some arcane feature of the Constitution that explicitly ignored the will of the people? And while people regularly call him a bad president, he's rarely called illegitimate anymore. Seems like our country can actually handle a little anti-democracy once in a while.

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