by dday

The AP is reporting that Barack Obama has clinched the Democratic nomination, based on projections of tonight’s numbers (the bare minimum delegates he’d be expected to pick up in Montana and South Dakota) and the superdelegates who are about to commit.

It does look to be over, at long last. And Democrats got to compete in virtually every state, and while the hurt feelings will linger (and it’s of paramount importance to acknowledge that and empathize, IMO), Obama now must face the test of unifying, a core rationale for his candidacy, starting with unifying the Democratic Party. Let’s see what he comes up with. If he can manage it, then this has been an enormously beneficial process for the party. Now the next challenge, in my view, is reforming this disastrous primary system entirely, reviewing it from top to bottom and ditching the most undemocratic elements. I would move to a rotating regional set of primaries (decided by lottery on January 1 of the primary year so nobody can park in any one place prior to that), superdelegates with no vote until after the first ballot, which is reserved for delegates picked directly by the voters (so they get to go to the party but not have an undue influence on the process), and all delegates selected proportionately based on their state’s popular vote. I would remind those who think caucuses should be thrown out that they are tremendous party-building tools, and many of the states with caucuses this year are swing states (Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, even Texas perhaps), and those state parties captured priceless voter contact information on hundreds of thousands of voters who could be turned into volunteers.

Later in June, the California Democratic Party picks their DNC members to serve after the convention for the next four years, and these are the officials who will be tasked with making those rules. They ought to be challenged to come up with the best plans for reform, not just in CA but all over the country. Activists can actually have a role in that process if they push hard enough.

…just to address one thing in the comments, I do think caucuses with an absentee provision, like they have in Maine, can be maintained, at the discretion of the state parties. The DNC could pass a rule mandating that all delegate selections must offer the opportunity for everyone to vote, for example. And yes, we absolutely should move to the National Popular Vote for the general election.