Lance Dutson: You have to love Democrats. Everywhere you turn, they’re screaming about voter disenfranchisement.
Want people to show ID at the polls to discourage fraud? No way! That’s voter suppression. Want to give town clerks the time to process the crush of Election Day voting by asking people to register a few days ahead of time? No way! Slackers deserve to vote, too!
In Oregon, liberals have even made it so voters don’t even have to leave the couch — they can mail in their ballots. And in Maine, liberals in Portland and Lewiston have even pushed for noncitizens to be able to vote.
But now, the Democratic presidential candidate is going to be chosen by a select group of political oligarchs called superdelegates. So, Steven, is the bottom line that Democrats believe in voting, just as long as it doesn’t threaten their power?
Steven Biel: Republican efforts to suppress voting rights are an abomination, and pointing fingers at Democrats won’t change that.
You pass voter ID laws that allow people to vote with an NRA membership card but not with a student ID. The Republican Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, allowing Republicans to shut down polling places in heavily Democratic areas. All in the name of preventing the nonexistent problem of voter impersonation.
Lance: Increasing voter participation is a laudable goal, but is that really what Democrats are interested in? Or are you just trying to game the system for partisan advantage?
This superdelegate situation is so hypocritical, it’s hard to even describe. If you believe so much in voting, why don’t you let the voters choose your nominee?
Steven: I’m no fan of superdelegates. But in fairness, a party nomination process is not the same as a general election. A party is a private organization choosing whom they wish to represent them.
Lance: Right. Do as I say, not as I do. Classic Democratic Party posturing.
Steven: The Republican process is even worse. The rules are different in every state, so you have to have an army of lawyers just to keep track. In Colorado, voters don’t vote at all. Trump is a lock to win the most votes, but at this point, he has a 50-50 chance at best. So I ask you, why not just let the voters decide?
Lance: I see your point. If only the Republican Party was run by infallible elites who always know better than the people, like the Democrats…
Steven: I hate to admit that you’re right. But superdelegates do make Democrats look like disingenuous hypocrites.
The good news is that, at least here in Maine, there’s a real push to open up the process. My senator, Justin Alfond, passed legislation to change Maine from a caucus state to a primary state, after thousands of people were disenfranchised because they couldn’t stand in line for six hours to vote.
And Portland state Rep. Diane Russell is offering a floor amendment at the state party convention this year, urging Maine’s superdelegates to honor the will of the voters and requiring they do so starting in 2020.
I’m glad to see the Maine Democratic Party getting on the right side of history. In the meantime, can we count on your party to support fully funding the transition to a presidential primary in Maine?
Lance: The primary switch is a very positive, bipartisan development. And, yes, it should be fully funded. A functioning democracy is worth paying for.
Still, Democrats are in a real pickle this year, regardless of what’s happening to fix it in the long term. When the superdelegates hand Hillary the nomination, the Sanders supporters are going to be super pissed. Republicans ought to grab a bowl of popcorn and get ready for the schadenfreude as liberal America tries to reconcile its relationship with an inherently hypocritical Democratic Party.
Steven: Clinton is winning on the popular vote, elected delegates and superdelegates. That’s not the issue.
The reason to get rid of superdelegates is that they serve no purpose except to undermine the public’s already rock bottom faith in government. And because it gives Republicans like you a talking point against voting rights you don’t deserve.
Steven Biel is former campaign director for MoveOn.org and president of the Portland-based political consulting firm Steven Biel Strategies. Lance Dutson, a principal of Red Hill Strategies, is a Republican communications consultant. He has served on the campaign teams of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Kelly Ayotte, as well as the Maine Republican Party.