The Real Reason Why Bernie Sanders Hates The Superdelegates

Bernie Sanders

On Monday, Bernie Sanders did two things. First, he released his (heavily redacted) tax returns--more than three years after promising to produce them. And, second, he trotted out the hoary old myth about superdelegates “controlling the outcome" in the 2016 primary.

But this got me thinking. Exactly why is Sanders still hung up on this? After all, anyone inclined to believe this is already on his side. And they have proven impervious to rumor-debunking explanations of the DNC's superdelegate system.

On a whim, I decided to find out exactly who served as a superdelegate in the 2016 election. For anyone who doesn't know, superdelegates are either (1) elected DNC officials, (2) sitting Democratic governors, including territorial governors, (3) sitting Democratic members of the House of Representatives, (4) sitting Democratic US Senators, or (5) Distinguished Party Leaders (DPL's), a group that includes presidents, vp's, and former DNC heads. That means that luminaries like Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Barack Obama, John Lewis, Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, etc. all cast votes as superdelegates in 2016.

There were a grand total of forty-seven US Senators serving as superdelegates in the 2016 election. And forty-six of them threw their support behind Hillary Clinton. The lone holdout? Bernie Sanders himself. Even more telling, most of the superdelegates that sided with Bernie were DNC officials, the very people whom Bernie Sanders has been accusing of masterminding the supposed neo-liberal/ anti-progressive conspiracy.

What does this mean? It means that Bernie Sanders couldn't possibly believe his own story about DNC rigging. It also means that his obsession with the supposed unfairness of the superdelegate system has more to do with hurt feelings than anything else. After all, those forty-six senators were Sanders' Senate colleagues, people he saw at work for six months out of every year. Finding out that he was less popular with his coworkers than his opponent, a former coworker who had left the Senate nearly eight years earlier, had to have been a crushing blow to his (frail) ego. Having to face those very same people in the Senate chamber after the primaries had to have been doubly humiliating.

This does not bode well for 2020. Four of the senator-superdelegates who supported Clinton (Booker, Gillibrand, Klobuchar, and Warren) are running for president right now. Inslee, O'Rourke, and Swalwell, theee other 2020 contenders, were also Clinton superdelegates. Possible contender, Joe Biden, a DPL superdelegate, and Joaquin Castro, a congressman-superdelegate and identical twin of 2020 contender, Julian Castro, also supported Clinton.

Because Sanders is most likely treating the 2020 election as a grudge match and not an actual attempt to win the nomination, it is imperative that Tom Perez and the rest of the DNC decisively debunk "superdelegates rigged the election" conspiracy theory once and for all. The DNC should also reprimand Sanders for cynically stoking the rage of his woefully misinformed supporters. The last thing this country needs is four more years of Trump and that's exactly what we are going to get if Sanders is allowed to spread rumors on the party dime.