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If Hillary wins? Flashback to 2000

(Credit: Politirazzi)

By Matt

If Hillary Clinton were to win the Democratic nomination — in spite of the popular vote in favor of Barack Obama — the question I will be most concerned with is not what effect that will have on Democratic voters, but whether those dissatisfied with the result of the 2000 presidential election will finally stop harping on the deficiencies of the electoral college and the supposed injustice of a system in which a person who doesn’t get the highest absolute number of votes can still manage to get elected.

One cannot help but trip over the irony of the Democratic nominee potentially being decided not by the popular vote — oh no! — but by the popular vote and the votes of the party’s superdelegates. It would be ironic indeed if the precedent relied upon in such a nomination fight was the scourge of Bush v. Gore.

(continued) As many learned nearly eight years ago (much to their chagrin), the popular vote does not decide who becomes president. Similarly, the rules of the Democratic party allow for a nominee to be chosen who has not won the most cumulative votes in the various state and territorial caucuses and primaries. Like it or not, the systems that the two major political parties have in place for choosing a nominee, and the system for electing the president spelled out in the Constitution, do not simply vest the choice of a nominee and of the president, respectively, in only the aggregated voice of the people.

We don’t live in a democracy in the strict meaning of that term, or at least not as the Greeks from whom the word is derived would understand it. In some respects, our political system is geared toward what seems to be a goal fundamentally antithetical to democracy: filtering and diluting the power of the people. Where do we witness such an effort?

Among other examples, look no further than equal representation among the states in the Senate, the electoral college system or, yes, superdelegates. A Clinton victory based on the support of superdelegates will probably be highly controversial. But, like the Democrats’ favorite punching bag, President Bush, she will have won fair and square nonetheless.

And if Democrats don’t like that result either, instead of turning to their familiar lament of Bush v. Gore, they could always turn to one of their other faithful standbys: change.

Tags: matt knox , talker of the week

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