In their latest column, “Let superdelegates decide race? Not this year,” Steve and Cokie Roberts argue that 2008 is absolutely the wrong year to let superdelegates decide who is the Democratic presidential nominee. Why?
They are the superdelegates, the elected officials and representatives of Democratic Party constituencies who this year are expected to make the difference – to add enough delegates into the column of one candidate or the other to put him or her over the top. But this is exactly the wrong year for them to play that role for one important reason: race.
Not only is it entirely within the rules for the superdelegates to vote their independent choice, rather than simply echo the voters of their states, that’s their reason for being – these professional politicians are SUPPOSED to exercise their judgment, both political and personal. They definitely CAN choose the nominee; the question is, SHOULD they? We think not. Not this year. If the party elites elect Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama, many African-Americans will be convinced that the rules were rigged to lock them out.
…A group of politicians, almost half of whom are white men, can’t be perceived as excluding the black candidate, even if they are acting totally within the rules.
I am not here to say whether superdelegates should or should not be the deciding factor, but I am here to say that, once again, we are being told that it is essential not to give the appearance of racism, but it does not seem to matter if those involved in the process give the appearance of sexism and/or misogyny.
Roberts and Roberts at least do at least mention the other side of the coin:
If the “old boys’ network” seems to be beating up on Clinton – and almost two-thirds of the superdelegates are men – that could backfire on any attempts to bring the supporters of the two candidates together.
So, to summarize…The superdelegates choose Clinton and there will be a scandal because it will look like racism played a part in the choice of the Democratic nominee; the superdelegates choose Obama, and there may not be “harmony” among supporters. Do one, and you will look like a bigot; do the other, and you will look like you are inconveniencing the party.
The Roberts’ rhetoric is no different from the rhetoric of almost all politicians, elected officials, writers, and commentators: Racism is a blot on the society, while sexism and misogyny are “less important” issues, and therefore do not merit the same amount of attention, if indeed, they merit any at all.