If the Republican Party had had superdelegates during its 2016 presidential convention, it possibly could have managed to avoid the wild and chaotic ramblings of Donald Trump and his fan base. Superdelegates would have given the convention leverage to pull the votes toward another candidate.
Without superdelegates, Donald Trump was able to navigate through the early state primaries and caucuses without ever gaining over 50 percent of any state’s Republican votes. Through the first 15 primaries and caucuses held on or before March 1, Trump’s average vote total was 33 percent of Republicans in those states.
Donald Trump used the large field of 17 candidates to get a minority of the votes large enough that he had the most delegates coming out of Super Tuesday. This fact combined with Trump’s bullying language forced candidates more devoted to historically Republican positions and practices to drop out of the race. Trump’s brash techniques appealed to a segment of Republican voters who were drawn to his harshness and name-calling and who labeled this form of communication as being plain spoken or speaking one’s mind.
These same voters embraced Trump’s harsh language about building a wall along our Southern border and exporting undocumented persons from the United States. They tolerated Trump’s demeaning of Sen. John McCain’s military record as a prisoner of war. They turned away when he said Fox News’ Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her, wherever.” They agreed with him when he said there was video of thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the fall of the World Trade Center in 2001. No such video has ever been found.
This group cheered as Trump advocated a complete ban on all Muslims entering the United States. They found it funny when he claimed he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York City and not lose any votes.
These and many other forms of brashness have become slogans for angry Republicans, but this contingent is not the majority of Republicans. It is this relatively small percentage of citizens who have brought great chaos within the Republican Party.
Democrats need to pay attention to what is happening to the Republican Party. The same thing could happen in the Democratic Party if the proposed move to get rid of superdelegates is accomplished. A similar personality could arise among Democrats who has no or little regard for the principles and traditions of the Democratic Party’s standards and ways of giving mutual support to party principles. We should never assume that Democrats are above having a Trump-like candidate gain significant votes and take the Democratic Party hostage.
Superdelegates help to assure that the party leaders have a strong enough say in whom the national standard bearer is and that this person has a history of maintaining the party’s positions. Democrats should be very cautious about getting rid of the valued practice of awarding strong leaders the role of being superdelegates.
Donald Trump is Exhibit A of what can go wrong when you do not have superdelegates.
Dewey William is a minister and a family support specialist serving children with behavior problems in Durham.