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.”

Presidential Candidate Overview

By DJ Crosby With the Illinois primary election coming up on March 15, the presidential campaign bids are beginning to gain momentum at a rapid speed. A recent national poll shows that Donald Trump is leading the Republican Party followed by Sen. Ted Cruz, and picking up in third place is Sen. Marco Rubio. For the Democratic party, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Senator Bernie Sanders nationally. However, Sen. Sanders has picked up the pace within the last few months. With the assistance of North Park political science professors, Dr. Jon Peterson and Dr. Joseph Alulis, we tackled specific policies and platforms that each candidate stands on.

Donald Trump

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“Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive.”- Donald Trump

In the last several weeks, Donald Trump’s main talking point has been in regards to immigration and how he plans on fixing it. According to CNN, Trump proposes that the United States builds a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border, leaving Mexico to pay the hefty price tag of an estimated $8 billion. Hundreds of immigrants pour into the United States on a weekly basis seeking refuge from their current residence.

From an international standpoint, Dr. Joseph Alulis notes: “I cannot imagine the United States building a wall along the border. One reason for this is that it would so powerfully and negatively affect our relations not only with Mexico but with other states in the Western hemisphere and in the world.” Closing up shop for the immigrants entering the United States would directly affect relations with other countries. The United States is known for the “melting pot” culture scene and its ability to be a good neighbor. Dr. Jon Peterson writes: “I suspect that over the next 20 years, the Mexican immigration problem will fade as those families become assimilated into U.S. culture. This is not to say that the U.S. does not need to fix its immigration system or address the millions of individuals who are here without legal documentation.” Dr. Peterson also notes that “the number of immigrants (legal and otherwise) coming from Mexico has significantly declined in the last few years as the U.S. economy has softened. India and Asia are becoming the new sources of immigration.”

Sen. Ted Cruz

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“You often see in Washington those who disagree you described as stupid or evil. It's one of the most unfortunate trends of modern political discourse. Portraying opponents as too dumb to know the truth but smart enough and wanting people to suffer.” - Ted Cruz

According to the “Reign in Washington” tab of Ted Cruz’s site, he plans to close five existing federal agencies. The IRS, Department of Education, Department of Commerce, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Energy would be on the chopping block. Dr. Peterson includes that  “congressional Republicans targeted the Departments of Energy, Education, and Commerce for closure back when they first took control of the House and Senate in the mid-1990s.”

Cruz would face an incredible opposition to the closure of five federal agencies and "the American public has no serious interest in shrinking the size of the federal government.” Dr. Alulis emphasized that “while it is a general rule in any organization that there should be periodic reform and renewal this is not the same as wholesale elimination; throwing out the good with the bad.” Closing these agencies would eliminate the profitable means as well as the outdated and stagnant bureaucracies. To give an idea of how Cruz plans to pay and ensure that these agencies close, Cruz’s website states that “President Cruz will hold Congress accountable by enacting a strong Balanced Budget Amendment and requiring that a majority of members approve any major, cost-inducing regulation. And he will reduce costs by instituting a hiring freeze and federal pay reforms.”

Sen. Marco Rubio 

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I'm going to be working the next 25 or 30 years. People like me, if we want, number one, for no benefit reductions for our parents and our grandparents, number two, for the system to survive and exist for us, and, more importantly, number three, for the system to exist for us children, we are going to have to make reforms to that system.” - Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio’s foreign policy includes measures to increase the defense budget, recapitalize the Navy, shake up the Pentagon, and ensure the success of international security. Restoring the strength of the military would include “[undoing] the $1 trillion indiscriminate defense cuts,” according to Rubio’s official website. According to The Hill, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairmen of Senate and House Armed Services committees, urge that “ignoring entitlements is not conservative fiscal policy and will not solve the problems of deficit and debt.” Recapitalizing the Navy would add up to nearly 320 warships by the year 2024, build two high-tech submarines each year, and would fully finance any Navy or Marine maintenance.

Additionally, Rubio wishes to increase the amount of men and women on the ground in the Middle East from 182,000 to 490,000. Regarding the Pentagon, he ensures that the amount of individuals working would decrease. According to his website, Rubio will “develop private sectors for the Department of Defense” to help oil the gears of rusty personnel.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former Secretary of State 

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People can judge me for what I've done. And I think when somebody's out in the public eye, that's what they do. So I'm fully comfortable with who I am, what I stand for, and what I've always stood for.” - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

From the moment Secretary Clinton announced a presidential bid, her platform revolved around women's rights and pay equity. Clinton’s website states, “Hillary believes that issues that affect women’s lives are not just 'women’s issues'—they are family issues, they are economic issues, and they are crucial to our future competitiveness." She continues to fight to close the pay gap, fight for paid family leave, defend social security, and defend the reproductive rights of women. However, Clinton has not been receiving the support that once propelled her forward. Dr. Alulis includes that “she is the wife of a former and still living president. It feels like a violation of the 22nd amendment against individuals serving three terms. The suspicion that Bill would have an unwarranted and unaccountable influence over policy and governance is very great.” Whatever the case, Hillary Clinton is currently the favored Democratic nominee for president.

Sen. Bernie Sanders

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“As a member of both the energy and environment committees, I am constantly astounded by how many of my colleagues prefer to focus on what the government can do for the nuclear or coal industries rather than why the government should support clean and sustainable energy.

- Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders announced his presidential campaign bid in May of 2015. Knowing it was a long shot going against Secretary Clinton, his campaign kicked off with a small amount of media attention and almost zero name recognition. One of his main messages regarding his platform is income and wealth inequality. According to his website, “the top one-tenth of one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.” A few of Bernie’s goals are to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2020, make companies stay in the states, tax the Wall Street speculators, close the pay gap between men and women, and break up huge financial institutions. As the campaign season has continued, Bernie’s popularity has exploded at a rapid rate. Today, Sanders is the most popular candidate in the 18-24 age demographic. Dr. Alulis writes that “a big part of the story of Sanders' success is the support of the young, who by reason of their years are less cautious than their elders and may well like his iconoclastic style.”

Voting is an essential piece to our society and a constitutional right. Voting in the primary election this March is a vital to the presidential election, since it determines who the Republican and Democrat nominees will be. The closest polling station for the Illinois primary on March 15 is located at the Albany Park Community Center, 5202 N Kimball Ave. Voting hours are 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Your vote counts.

 

Illustrations by Gabe Johnson