A few comments, largely from a Minnesota perspective, on this remarkable event.
The Democratic Party, at the national level, has made some big changes. They have gotten rid of super delegates, and they are setting out guidelines for state parties to make their caucus system, when they have one, more “democratic.”
Some of this is good, some is misguided, and the reactions to it will be generally misinformed, mainly because most people don’t have much of a handle on how the system works. But it is generally a good thing.
I’ve not studied all the changes closely yet, but I will make a few comments.
First, getting rid of super delegates is a good thing and a bad thing. The original idea of having them was so there would be some adults in the room in the event that the children became unruly, or, in the more likely and serious situation, in the event that committed delegates were left asea if the candidate they were committed to were to be murdered or suffer a similar fate. Indeed, uncommitted delegates, which have been unofficially named super delegates, were invented in part as a response to the wild turns party politics went through the year the Democratic Party’s nominee apparent was shot to death right after winning the California primary.
Had the Republicans a lot of uncommitted delegates (and yes, Republicans have super delegates too), they may have been able to stop Trump from being their nominee. As it happens, the party of Putin had proportionately few of them.
Having said all that, “super delegates,” perhaps in part because people stopped calling them what they were supposed to be, “uncommitted,” were very likely to commit themselves to specific candidates early in the game. So, instead of being the adults in the room, they became the bullies in the room. The role of super delegate was delegated to higher level party officials and elected officials, the exact opposite of who you would want to remain uncommitted. The system was doomed to failure.
My suggestion for dealing with that problem in the future was to have some uncommitted delegates, for the given reasons, but to select them among the grass roots, people who would commit to not commit, then vote their conscious at the convention. But, alas, my suggestion was ignored!
The changes to caucuses being suggested are a response to the complaint that the caucuses are not sufficiently democratic, because it is hard for people to go to them. This is a somewhat legit complaint, but also, ironic. Most people don’t engage in any of this, so why is a system that nobody gets involved in better or worse than another system that nobody gets involved in on the basis of how many people get involved?
It isn’t. It is a falsehood. But it is true, regardless, that a caucus system tends to make it hard for certain people to engage. People with physical disabilities could have a hard time. In Minnesota, our caucuses are usually held in schools, so that itself is not much of a problem. People who don’t like to go out at night may be less represented. But there are also people who just don’t or can’t go out at all, who are left out of any gathering, so I’m not sure if only addressing the concerns of people who don’t go out at night specifically is sufficient. Overall, it seems like a better idea to allow more people in general to be engaged using whatever methods are available and appropriate.
Minnesota won’t be affected by this even though we have a caucus system. There are many different kinds of caucus systems, and ours never involved much actual caucusing for president anyway. Instead, we had a totally bogus preference poll at our caucus (the caucus is for doing other things, and the poll was added on to that) followed by a later choosing of delegates sorta kinda on the basis of presidential preference, but not really. We have already changed that system for the next presidential election. We are keeping our caucus, and again, our caucus system has pretty much nothing to do with the presidential election, but adding a presidential primary.This will not be our existing state wide primary, but a different primary just for the presidential candidate. We’ve not done it yet, so we’ll see how it goes.
As far as the DNC’s suggestion to allow people who are independents to vote in the primary, in Minnesota, we won’t be making that change. We’ll be sort of doing the opposite, in another twist of irony.
There are no “democrats” or “republicans” or “independents” in Minnesota. Everybody is their own person 99.999% of the time. If you go to a party event, at that moment while you are there, you are temporarily part of the party. There is no keeping out of anyone. A good number of states do this, but most do something else.
However, this practice will not be adhered to with the new presidential primary. If you vote in the Minnesota presidential primary, your name will be put on a list, and which party’s primary you voted in will be recorded.
Since this information has never been collected in Minnesota, a lot of people are promising to not vote in the primary. In other words, this new rule will be an effective means of voter suppression. And, yes, it was a rule made up by Republicans. Figures.
I strongly suspect we’ll do that once, then, when Democrats regain full control in Minnesota, we’ll get rid of that rule and change it to allow participation in the primary without declaring party.