The California Democratic Party Demands an End to Caucuses and Most Superdelegates

Proving once again that California usually leads the way toward reform and that opposition to superdelegates doesn’t just come from party outsiders, the California Democratic Party voted today at its Executive Board meeting in Long Beach in favor of a resolution to eliminate caucuses and most superdelegates. It also called for reforms to the party’s primary calendar to better reflect more diverse states earlier in the process.

The final text of the resolution has yet to be made available, but the process of its creation was open and widely participated in by both Clinton and Sanders supporters alike. The charge was led by Christine Pelosi, daughter of Nancy Pelosi and a superdelegate herself who has long opposed their existence, and by Daraka Larimore-Hall, Secretary of the CDP and a Sanders supporter. A number of other members and attendees of the Executive Board (myself included) also contributed input and edits during the Resolutions Committee yesterday before it was approved in its final version today.

The “Whereas” clauses of the resolution make reference to many of the problems with superdelegates, including the practice of appointing corporate lobbyists to superdelegate positions and the potential for superdelegates to overturn the democratic will of the voters, before suggesting that all elected official superdelegates be made honored guests at the convention and DNC members be pledged to the winner of presidential contest among their constituencies.

The resolution also condemned the undemocratic caucus processes for being comparatively inaccessible and removing the right to a secret ballot, and it called for a reform of the primary calendar to put more diverse states earlier that are more reflective of America’s overall demographics.

The resolution was approved unanimously:

Many of the changes were sought by supporters of Bernie Sanders, but Hillary Clinton backers also endorsed the effort, resulting in the resolution being unanimously approved at the state party’s executive board meeting on Sunday.

“It’s very exciting and healing for our party to be able to make a strong statement that we believe in democracy and that leaders should never trump the will of the voters,” said Christine Pelosi, a California super delegate, daughter of House Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and a Clinton backer who co-authored the resolution.

Co-author Daraka Larimore-Hall, the party secretary and a Sanders backer, added, “There are a lot of people, whether they’re Clinton supporters or Sanders’ supporters, who see … there are broken things in our nominating process.”

Clinton supporters who like the superdelegate process should be aware that the vanguard of the largest and bluest state in the country does not agree with them, and is eager to change the process. Sanders supporters, meanwhile, should take note of this: it was not the protesters outside the convention that accomplished this, but the dedicated work of progressive activists within the party loyal and hardworking enough to become Executive Board and standing committee members.

The Democratic Party is changing for the better. But you can’t change it unless you’re involved in it.

UPDATE: The Nebraska Democratic Party also just voted to eliminate superdelegates, adding to a list that now includes Maine, Iowa, Vermont, Idaho, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The momentum grows.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.