TT#178 - Election 2016: What's a Delegate? What's a Super Delegate?

Today is Groundhog's Day in the United States. This is pretty much completely irrelevant. I do feel bemused that we still wait for seasonal weather predictions from a giant rodent and we have about half the country that doesn't trust science enough to say climate change is a real thing... Or that evolution is a thing too. Anyway, the rat known as Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, and in this universe that means an early spring. And the 12 year old boy in me giggles that this arcane farce is under taken by a bunch of men in top hats from the Groundhog Club at "Gobbler's Knob". Phil is the most famous but there are several other divining rodents, all of whom concurred with the no shadow pronouncement. 

Today is also the day after the first major event in the run to the White House. The Iowa caucuses concluded last night with some interesting results, to say the least. The republicans went with a closed vote process this year and that left Ted Cruz as the winner of the Iowa event.  You can see the results here

The democrats had a much closer race. The difference between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was .2% Yeah, point 2 percent. you can see the results here For all intents and purposes it was a tie. reports are that 6 precincts had to assign their odd number delegate by coin flip, and Hillary Clinton's camp managed to win all 6. Yes, it is quite a streak, but statistics and probability do not make it any better than 50/50 each time. It does, however, highlight the oddities of the Caucus system. I'm pretty sold on not liking it and wanting it to go the way of the dodo. 

Ok, you have come this far, so let's get to the actual subject, the delegate. By the dictionary definition, a delegate is an authorized representative of someone or a group. In electioneering the delegates are sent to their state political convention to cast a vote among other delegates from other areas in the state. It's pretty simple when you realize they are the middle men, the messenger to the central committee of your location's preferences. The number of delegates that are available are based on population. In places like Iowa, there are multiple caucuses where the delegates that were awarded then are narrowed further until at last we know which candidate has been chosen by the state's political power structure.  

To be completely honest, the system is a bit farcical and purposely difficult to understand to game the system to give the party more control over who is nominated and who will win the election. Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based nonpartisan organization, says the delegate system is so complex because after most elections, "the respective national parties go back and look at their rules and their system and try to make adjustments that they believe will give their party an advantage."

So, basically, delegates are a buffer between your choice and the result. It would be classed like so much of our system as a representative democracy. One thing we have going for us is that the delegates are typically bound by law (check your state codes) to vote for the choice that you the voter told them to. But not all delegates are created equal, in the Democratic Party.

What is a Super Delegate? No, not a delegate that was bitten by a radioactive spider... That would be a better story. In this case, the Super Delegates are chosen by the party outside of the way the other delegates are chosen (which is an entire other post...). They are typically old guard power players in the party. Super Delegates may even be former presidents. Okay, big deal right? Well here's the deal, about 20% of the delegates at the convention are Super Delegates, and they are not bound to the same rules as a regular Delegate; they can vote for whomever they please. The Democratic nomination process was altered to include Super Delegates in 1984. That year, former Vice President Walter Mondale won the Democratic nomination with strong support from party stalwarts. Some experts say Democratic candidate George McGovern's landslide 1972 loss to Richard Nixon influenced the party's introduction of Super Delegates. "There was a view that the Democratic party had allowed the grass roots to become too empowered and that in too many instances, people whose job it was to get Democrats elected were being shut out of the process," says McGehee.

Republicans do not have Super Delegates.

The Republicans, to settle things the way the party elite would desire is though a brokered convention, which is also available but not favored by the Democratic Party.. Delegates at a convention could have more difficulty in reaching a clear majority of support for any one candidate. A brokering process then takes place, with multiple ballots a possibility. Though a brokered convention has not occurred in either party since 1952 when Adlai Stevenson won the Democratic nomination. 

Clear as mud right? Tune in to the ORLYRADIO podcast to get more analysis and banter on politics and current events. 


Topic Tuesday #171 2015/10/27 "Doing Something"

Topic Tuesday #171 2015/10/27 "Doing Something"

I have given it a lot of thought and I don't feel like I am doing enough. I am doing lots of things, certainly, but not in the direction I want. I am fearful of the direction the world is taking. I want the world to be the best it can be for my children and there are so many disturbing trends that are beyond my influence to change. I have this blog... I have the OrlyRadio podcast... I have people that listen and read what I have to say, though it very well could just be an echo chamber without any real impact or reach. 

Where does this line of thought lead? I asked myself that very question, and the answer is increasingly that I need to do something. If you want to change the world, you have to do it yourself. I am not really prepared to do that... I am not wealthy, nor part of a political dynasty. I know a great deal about a lot of different things but I will be the first to tell you I don't know everything and have plenty to learn. So... I will see how this 2016 election shakes out. Will the people that have the constitution to change the things that are wrong win or will we flounder under the same old business as usual system that has brought us here? I have hope, but there isn't much left. 

So... I may have to run for office. Any office.  I may have to step through several offices to make changes along the way to get things done. I may have to lose people along the way. I may have to do things I do not want to do to make the best choices. But I would then know what was in the way of those that have come before me, and that would be informative for me and the future leaders I would tell.  

I'm not perfect, no one is - but if I decide I am needed... If I am called to service to make a difference, I will. So, world... You are on notice. Get your act together, or I am coming for you.

Topic Tuesday #169 2015/10/13 "1st Democrat Debate for 2016 POTUS Primary"

Topic Tuesday #169 2015/10/13 "1st Democrat Debate for 2016 POTUS Primary"

Tonight, in about an hour, the blue team will take the debate stage. The red team has already had two so far. We will be watching both of these closely, as this is one of the most interesting and critical elections in our modern time, though I bet I say that again about the next election too...

The cast of debaters will be (in Order of popular vote) Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee. The cast of interlocutors will be Anderson Cooper, Dana Bash, and Juan Carlos Lopez, with Don Lemon monitoring the social media feeds.

There are a lot of issues to unpack and it will be fascinating to see how they all interact with each other. Safe money says it is Hillary's race to lose, and the front runner to knock her off that pedestal is Bernie Sanders. 

Let's watch and find out. 

Also, go get your flu shot. I had mine today and the pharmacist told me the CDC was correct in their selection of the flu strain this year. Stay healthy!