Superdelegate Oligarchy

By DJ Crosby Over the course of the 2016 Presidential Elections, the word “superdelegate” has been engraved into our minds. Various news outlets, magazines, and online news sources have introduced superdelegates to us, but they have yet to express the importance or even define what a superdelegate is. North Park Political Science professor, Dr. Jon Peterson was interviewed in hopes of clearing up this super confusion.

The Republican nomination and the Democratic nomination processes vary. The Democratic nomination has more of a focus on the superdelegate key than the Republican nomination. CBS News says that the Democratic nomination is effected by the “712 wild cards with an outsized amount of power.” These wild cards are also known as democratic superdelegates. According to CBS, a superdelegate “falls into one of three categories: a major elected official, including senators and members of the House of Representatives; a notable member of the party, such as a current or former president or vice president; and some members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).”

These are people in the political system who hold a large, swaying opinion in regards to the democratic nomination, in hopes of becoming President of the United States. CBS News indicates that some of the current Democratic superdelegates include President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

When asked what the difference is between the Republican and Democratic superdelegates, Dr. Jon Peterson said, “The Republican Party does not have superdelegates, per se. They have delegates who are seated automatically (that is, they are not elected), but are limited to three per state. Typically, these are high-ranking party officials, like the state’s party chair and a couple of party committee members. Unlike Democratic superdelegates, these Republican delegates must vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in their state.”

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The Republican nomination does not depend on the superdelegates because they do not have them. The superdelegates were created by the Democratic National Convention before the 1984 presidential election “in an effort to give party leaders more control over whom their party nominated for president.” Standing at a whopping 15 percent, the superdelegates of the Democratic party are more than the regular delegates. Peterson states that “just like 'regular' delegates, they get to vote for who should represent the Democratic Party in the presidential election. Unlike 'regular' delegates who are committed to a certain candidate, superdelegates are free to vote for anyone they like.”

In the last few weeks of the Presidential election, many Democratic voters have become concerned with the power the superdelegates have. For example, Senator Bernie Sanders has won the majority of primary elections but still trails Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in delegate count. Currently, Sanders holds 38 superdelegates to Clinton’s 502. One has to wonder why Sanders is trailing Clinton in an extremely large superdelegate gap—464 to be exact.

When asked why this could happen, Dr. Peterson shed some light on the subject. He stated that “after its disastrous convention in Chicago in 1968, the Democratic Party changed its delegate selection process to take power away from party officials and give it to the people. However, many Democratic officials were unhappy with who the people selected to be the party’s candidates in 1972 (George McGovern) and 1976 (Jimmy Carter) and sought to regain influence over the nominating process. So they gave elected officeholders and party officials votes at the convention by making them superdelegates. Even though only 15-20 percent of all of the delegates are superdelegates, it makes it more difficult to win the party’s nomination if you are an outsider.”

Peterson connects this to our current election: “For more than 20 years, Bernie Sanders served Vermont in the House of Representative and the Senate as an Independent. He changed his affiliation to the Democratic Party in 2015. That does not give many long-time Democrats much incentive to support him over Hillary Clinton, who has been a Democrat since 1968.” When looking at this aspect of the election, one could agree that the fact that Sanders has been an Independent for the majority of his political career could be a plausible reason for his lack of superdelegates.

Republican “superdelegates” do not exist in the way we know the Democratic superdelegates do. Republican “superdelegates” are not permitted to vote for a candidate if that candidate did not win his or her state primary. Democratic superdelegates have wildcards that are not tied to any one Democrat. They can freely pick who they will support. Because of all of the pressure and media coverage, Peterson iterates that “Given all the attention that the nominating process is getting this year, there will likely be pressure on the parties to change the process in future elections.”

Trump for Prez? Maybe not.

By Nyabuom Akhol Trumped by Donald Trump Running for President? Here’s Why He Wants to Make America Great Again.

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He doesn’t. He truly doesn’t. The Republican presidential candidate has made some pretty nasty comments verbally and virtually about women and Mexican immigrants. Both of these groups are significant members of the United States society. They are our neighbors, classmates, and our friends. I don’t see the validity in Trump’s slogan, to “Make America Great Again,” if he’s constantly putting down these groups. Trump has been known to keep his Twitter fingers strong by attacking women on their physical appearance and making ignorant posts about sexual assault against women in the military. First things first, sexual assault is never okay. It doesn’t matter what gender or occupation; no one is entitled to anyone’s body but their own. Also, a woman’s worth is never based on her physical appearance. Never. His misogynistic views and playground bullying are definitely something the country can function without.

During his presidential announcement on June 16 this year, Trump made some extremely bold claims about Mexico “sending” over its people. One of his key arguments was that the country is not sending their best, but they’re indeed sending over criminals. “They’re bringing over drugs. They’re bringing over crimes. They’re rapists,” he states. He later supports his foul comments by saying: “I can never apologize for the truth. I don’t mind apologizing for things. But I can’t apologize for the truth.” As a person who comes from an immigrant family and as a woman, I am disgusted that such an ignorant and arrogant person has the potential to become the next U.S. president.

My conclusion is that the infamous Donald Trump is running for president not to “Make America Great Again” but to expand his brand. He’s a rich businessmen with a questionable haircut who is probably soaking in all the media attention he’s getting right now. I encourage anyone who reads this to vote, just not for Donald Trump.

Kurdish People Betrayed Once Again

By Josh Gasbarra

In an interview with PBS, the sixth Iraqi president Jalal Talabani said "President Woodrow Wilson, when he drafted the League of Nations, he said that Kurdistan, Arabia and Armenia must not go back to the yoke of the Turks. ... He was the first American president who gave his promise to the Kurdish people." Since then, many U.S. presidents have promised much to the Kurdish people only to pull the rug from under their feet when Washington’s priorities change.

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The Kurdish population has suffered systematic discrimination and oppression from the four governments whose countries they reside in, those being Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Kurds have been discriminated against in government employment and have had little control over even their local affairs. In Iraq, oil wealth was denied to the Kurds despite the fact that the oil wells lay in their land. In Turkey, the Kurdish language is officially banned from both public and private life.

There is no denying that their grievances are justified; to date they are the 4th largest ethnic group without a state. Because they are an oppressed people surrounded by hostile governments, the U.S. has often used them as a tool against their home countries (Iraq, Syria) to achieve their strategic goals. Our military has given them substantial aid in order for them to fight on our side only to abandon them once the goal has been met or a better offer arrives. The first blatant example of this occurring was under the Nixon administration.

In 1972, the Nixon administration along with the pro-American Iranian Shah devised a plan to weaken Iraq under Saddam Hussein—to instigate a rebellion by the oppressed Kurdish minority. Both governments gave millions of dollars in military aid and assured the Kurds they could expect more. The U.S. goal, however, was neither victory nor self-determination for Iraqi Kurds, but rather to put the sabre-rattling Saddam in his place.

Once an agreement between Iran and Iraq over border issues was finalized, the aid to the Kurds ended with no forewarning whatsoever. The Kurdish leader at the time, Mustafa Barzani, had even written a letter to Henry Kissinger, then the U.S. National Security Advisor, pleading desperately for help. Kissinger didn't bother replying. To this day, young Kurds remember and loathe Henry Kissinger. Barzani himself died lamenting having trusted the U.S.

The second betrayal occurred in 1988, during the Iran-Iraq war. As this occurred after the 1979 Iranian revolution, the US was now supporting Saddam against the Iranians.  During the campaign, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurdish village of Halabja; thousands of people were killed, most of them civilians. While these acts were publicly denounced by the U.S., the military was in fact supporting Saddam’s campaign with critical planning and intelligence with full knowledge chemical weapons would be used against Saddam’s enemies.

According to the New York Times, "the use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern" to Reagan and his aides, because they "were desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose." While the U.S. was not involved in the planning of chemical attacks against civilian Kurds, they did nothing to prevent them or to punish Saddam at the time. By allowing and assisting a country to use chemical weapons, against former allies no less, the U.S. betrayed the principles of International Law.

The decades that followed showed hope for Kurdish-U.S. relations. The U.S. established a no-fly zone to protect the Kurds during the First Gulf War and the aftermath that followed. When the Kurdish civil war broke out, the U.S. negotiated a peace treaty between the warring factions. The American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 allowed the Kurdish region in Iraq to gain de facto autonomy resulting in one of the most well-developed and pluralist regions in the Middle East.

All of this makes the most recent betrayal, having occurred but a month ago as part of the Syrian civil war, all the more shocking. When the civil war broke out in 2011, primarily between the government of Bashar al-Assad and Sunni rebels, the Kurds once again fought for their own autonomy. The United States' initial reaction to the conflict was to support the rebels and the Kurds with non-lethal aid against the Syrian regime.

As the war lingered on, a new threat emerged in the form of the Islamic State (ISIS). This rebel group opposed not only Assad, but all people who refused to accept their extreme interpretation of Islam. This included the Kurds, whose pluralistic values clashed with ISIS's ideology. The Kurds proved to be the United States' most effective ally against ISIS. While the Iraqi army fled, the Kurds fought and won several battles against ISIS, once again with substantial U.S. aid.

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The U.S. has made a deal with a longstanding Kurdish enemy, Turkey, that has resulted in the heavy bombardment of Kurdish areas and imprisonment of Kurds within Turkey.  What the U.S. receives in this deal is Turkish support against ISIS, but as of now Turkey has been attacking the Kurds far more than the Islamic State. According to journalist Patrick Cockburn, “the majority of those detained by the security forces turn out to be Kurdish or left-wing activists and not suspected ISIS sympathizers.” Turkey has even entered Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, expanding the hostilities of the Syrian civil war even further.

This deal was another betrayal to the Kurds, who have been ISIS’s most resolute opponents. It will spread the violence of the civil wars in Iraq and Syria into Turkey, and it will rekindle a Kurdish-Turkish civil war that had long been dormant. This betrayal is simultaneously immoral and strategically dubious, reminding us of the days when the shots were called by Henry Kissinger.

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