Samantha Bee Answers All of Your Superdelegate Questions

Who are these people? Why are they so important? Were you ever going to ask?


As the race for the Democratic nod comes closer to an end, and the Hillary vs. Bernie showdown gets more fiery, each candidate is focused on getting the support of that one key demographic. No, not millennials—we’re talking about superdelegates. Though you’ve probably heard the term over and over, how much do you know about these mystical people?

“We shall call you ‘ex-officio delegates’—that way, everyone who speaks Latin will know how you got this job. Normal people will call you ‘superdelegates’ and have no idea.”

On this week’s episode of her show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, the host clarified some misconceptions about the power of this overhyped figure, starting with the position’s conception.

After Hubert Humphrey won the Democratic nomination in the 1968 election, against the wishes of most constituents, Bee explains, the party changed its rules “to give power to the people”—starting with reform commissions created to shift away from ‘party bosses‘ and toward primaries and ‘rank and file’ party voters. “The people,” Bee explains, celebrated these new changes in the rules by “dropping a shit-ton of acid with Hunter S. Thompson and nominating George McGovern.” McGovern went on to win only Massachusetts and Washington, DC in the general election.

So “in 1982, the grown-ups said ‘ENOUGH,'” Bee continues:

From now on, Democratic governors, members of Congress, and party movers and shakers get a say in the process. We shall call you ‘ex-officio delegates’—that way, everyone who speaks Latin will know how you got this job. Normal people will call you ‘superdelegates’ and have no idea.

The only job of the superdelegates is to act in the best interest of the party. “That’s why they have never tried to overrule the will of the voters. Not because they care about us—they don’t—but because pissing off the voters is bad for their party, remember?” If Bernie Sanders receives more votes than Hillary Clinton, Bee says, her superdelegates will drop her and switch allegiances, just like they did in the 2008 presidential election.

But if superdelegates won’t act against the wishes of the constituent majority, what purpose do they serve? “Think of them as the driving instructor with her foot hovering over the break,” Bee jokes. “She’ll only use her power if the party is about do a Thelma and Louise.

So superdelegates are not there to protect the party from candidates like Sanders, Bee says, but to protect the party from candidates like Donald Trump. It’s safe to assume Republicans really wish they could use more of them right about now.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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