Steve Grossman, former DNC chair, major donor and Clinton supporter, urges fellow superdelegates to resist the "blandishments of those who would trivialize their roles in the nominating process, and their responsibilities to the party, and to the country, about which we care so deeply."
Grossman's letter was obtained by CBS News's Steve Chaggaris, who passed it along.
Grossman, like the Clintons, shares a dim, class-inflected view of caucuses:
"Should caucuses, in which citizens who wish to express their choice are obliged to either show up at an appointed hour and sit in a room for up to several hours or not show up at all, be regarded as reflecting the popular will as much as primaries, where voters whose lives do not permit them to spend three hours in a locked room at the end of a workday can simply go into their local elementary school, vote and leave--like voters across the country do on the first Tuesday in November?"
Read his full missive after the jump.
An Open Letter to Democratic Party Super Delegates
From Steven Grossman, Former National Chairman,
Democratic National Committee
Like many Democratic activists and officials honored to have been selected as so-called super delegates to this year's Democratic national convention, I've spent most of my life engaged in the fight for the values that the Democratic party embodies. These values were perhaps best articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his second inaugural address: "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
Like some of my colleagues, my commitment to the Democratic party and my passion for its most cherished principles can fairly be said to be part of my DNA. In my own case, my grandfather, father, uncle and I were all given the opportunity to serve as delegates to Democratic national conventions over the last 60 years. Indeed, my grandfather and father comprised the only "father-son" team among the delegates to the 1948 convention in Philadelphia that chose Harry Truman as the party's standard bearer. Given that family history, it will be understood how proud I was to serve first as Chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and then as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Some commentators, observing the current deadlock between Senators Clinton and Obama as they vie for the Democratic presidential nomination, have suggested that as super delegates, our function is to be mindless tabulators of primaries and caucuses won, or popular votes amassed. Despite the super delegates' lifetimes spent working on state, national and international issues, and thinking seriously about the grave challenges, and the dangerous adversaries, facing our country, these commentators demand that we suspend our independent judgments and jettison our profound responsibilities--to the party and, frankly, to the country itself. Even though the very party rules that provide for super delegates contemplated that we would exercise those independent judgments and fulfill those responsibilities, there are those who believe that we should confine ourselves to adding up numbers.
But super delegates were not selected by the national party to be either potted plants or rubber stamps. We were selected because under party rules that have been in place for a generation, our party concluded that we had demonstrated the ability to act as stewards of the national party--and of the national interest. By dint of our experience in the community and our public service, we were adjudged fit to fulfill a moral responsibility to act in the best interest of the country as we saw it--and to be strong enough to withstand the criticisms of those who might object to the political impact of the independent conclusions we reached.
Our duty to our party and our country is a fiduciary one, a sacred trust. We are obliged to regard ourselves in a real sense as trustees, charged with making conscientious judgments on behalf of the party but, more importantly, the country we care, and worry, about.
Any dispassionate analysis of the current nomination fight shows that Senators Clinton and Obama are breathtakingly close in terms of delegates won and popular vote recorded. It is likely that after the remaining primaries and caucuses have been held, the already narrow gap in delegates will shrink yet further, and the equally slim gap in popular vote will also close, with Senator Clinton having a meaningful chance to overtake Senator Obama's popular vote total altogether, particularly when the collective will of Florida’s and Michigan’s primary voters is finally taken into account. At a minimum, the nomination process must be permitted to run its full course, so that not only are the candidates' qualifications, character and positions fully vetted, but everyone who is entitled to vote is actually permitted to do so.
This means that, in the first instance, those super delegates who have not made up their minds or who have decided to remain neutral until all the votes have been cast should resist the pressure to abort the process. We are, after all, electing not a student council president but the President of the United States of America, the leader of the free world and, in real terms, the most powerful person on the planet. There is no amount of prudence and care which can possibly be excessive, under the circumstances.
But what happens after the final primaries are over in early June, when by most analyses neither Senator Clinton nor Senator Obama will have enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination? If the role of super delegates is merely to assess primary and caucus results, how do they wade through the thicket created by the important questions that those results have generated?
Should caucuses, in which citizens who wish to express their choice are obliged to either show up at an appointed hour and sit in a room for up to several hours or not show up at all, be regarded as reflecting the popular will as much as primaries, where voters whose lives do not permit them to spend three hours in a locked room at the end of a workday can simply go into their local elementary school, vote and leave--like voters across the country do on the first Tuesday in November?
Should the results in states that have rarely if ever voted Democratic in a presidential election over the last half century be accorded the same weight as the results in large states that form the heart of the Democratic base, and which the Democratic presidential nominee must carry in order to win the White House?
Should primaries in which voters who are not in fact members of the Democratic party voted in significant numbers be given the same standing for the purpose of choosing the Democratic party nominee as those in which only Democrats voted?
These are difficult questions, if not impossible ones, and super delegates who see their duty as mere numbers crunchers will have a difficult time sorting out the answers.
But being a super delegate is not the same as being a numbers cruncher. It is about consulting one’s conscience about what is best for the United States, and about the party that we hope will assume the leadership of the United States.
I have made my own personal judgment, and that is that Senator Clinton is the better qualified, more experienced and by far the more battle-tested Democrat to lead this country in a world that is increasingly dangerous, and where the stakes simply could not be higher. Others have made a different choice, and may yet make a different choice. But for the moment, super delegates who are not committed to either candidate should resist the blandishments of those who would trivialize their roles in the nominating process, and their responsibilities to the party, and to the country, about which we care so deeply.