Jesse Jackson, Jr Speaks of Superdelegates

I am sharing the commentary below with permission from the Office of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. The original article appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

This article represents, for me, the absolute importance of being informed.

Please share.


The delicate superdelegate predicament

Democratic nominee should be chosen by voters, not party elite

By Jesse Jackson Jr

February 12, 2008

The Democratic Party is on fire. We have two talented, precedent-

shattering, history-making candidates. We have a fired-up, mobilized,

energized base, breaking voting turnout records. We have a grass-

roots donor base that is using the Internet to set new fundraising

records every time we turn around. And the Republican Party seems to

have settled on an aging nominee who has serious problems with his

conservative base, tells voters that their jobs are gone and promises

a 100-year war and occupation of Iraq.

So I would suggest that this is a time that Democratic superdelegates

should tread lightly. Let's not get in the way of our rising tide.

Let's allow grass-roots voters to choose the 2008 presidential

nominee for the Democratic Party, not party elites.

This is a subject I know a bit about. I am one of 796 superdelegates,

by virtue of being a member of Congress. I'm a national co-chair for

the Obama for President campaign and I was once a Democratic National

Committee member.

I came of age during the great political campaigns of my father, Rev.

Jesse Jackson, grass-roots campaigns during the 1980s that took on

the Democratic Party's establishment, the superdelegates and the

question of political elites ruling the convention.

My father's 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns brought the civil

rights movement of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. fully into electoral

politics, registered millions of new Democratic voters and changed

the face and structure of the party -- including the rules.

We fought during the '80s to make the Democratic Party a party of

inclusion, and we largely succeeded, as our two remaining Democratic

presidential nominees this year illustrate. Back then, we registered

millions of young African-American voters, an investment that has

paid huge dividends to the party at every level for the last 20


We fought to lower barriers to grass-roots participation and won

rules changes that made our primary process fairer, smoother and more

accessible to everyone.

These rules changes were bitterly resisted at the time, yet

Democratic presidential nomination races since 1988 have been less

acrimonious and fairer and have helped us win at least two, really

three and maybe even four presidential victories in the years since

(depending on how many stolen elections you believe took place).

What were those changes? We fought to eliminate "winner-take-all" and

"bonus" primaries, which were very biased against grass-roots

candidates, especially minorities -- and we won.

We fought to lower the threshold percentage for winning delegates

from 20 percent to 15 percent -- and we won.

We actually succeeded in eliminating hundreds of superdelegates at

the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, by taking away

the status of unelected committee members. (Unfortunately, those

slots were quickly reinstated as superdelegates the next year, once

the election was over.)

The Democratic Party now is fairer and more accessible than it was a

generation ago, which is a big reason why Barack Obama has such a

good chance to become the party's presidential nominee. Still, one-

fifth of the convention delegates in Denver this summer will be

superdelegates -- more than enough to make the final choice in this

year's close primary contest.

Don't do it. Let the process play out. Let's see if the voters point

us in a clear direction, and rather than intervening to change that

direction, we superdelegates can ratify their decision.

Let's trust the voters to make wise decisions. Let's trust the

candidates to stay on the high road, so that a long primary process

continues to build the party up. Let's keep a wary eye on proposed

solutions that favor the power of elites over that of voters.

And when this is all over, let's revisit this whole superdelegate

issue. Because maybe the number of superdelegates who will be seated

at the Denver convention are just too many. If it better serves

justice, I'd be willing to give up my automatic superdelegate slot

(as long as my colleagues join me).

Most of all, let's not break the hearts of the millions of young

people who have been inspired to participate in the election process

this season. If we keep them involved, we'll all reach higher ground.


Jesse Jackson Jr. represents the 2nd Congressional District of

Illinois. He is a national co-chairman of the Obama for President


No comments: