Some leaders in the Democratic Party are playing with fire. They think that they can betray the will of millions of voters and choose Hillary Clinton as the nominee, regardless of whether or not she is the choice of the voters. We can't let this happen. It would be the largest disenfranchisement in modern history, and it would mean the Democratic Party giving their stamp of approval to a clear and consistent pattern of race-baiting by the Clinton campaign.
If we make our voices heard, we can stop it. Please join us in signing an open letter to leaders in the Democratic Party -- DNC Chair Howard Dean, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and all superdelegates -- demanding that they reject an outcome that involves trampling voting rights and legitimizing the politics of division and fear:
By the time the last vote is cast on June 3rd under the rules of the Democratic Party, it's unlikely Hillary Clinton will beat Barack Obama among voters.1 But there's a chance that superdelegates will hand Clinton the nomination anyway.
This would be a shocking attack on democracy, and it would destroy the Democratic Party's credibility on protecting the right to vote. Black people have a long history of fighting against voter suppression, and now the Democratic Party will be the enemy in that fight. As bad as that would be, there's another reason that a coup by party insiders would threaten racial progress.
Senator Clinton's plan to have superdelegates hand her the nomination relies on a parallel strategy -- she has to stoke enough division and race-based fear among Democratic voters to convince superdelegates that white voters will not vote for Senator Obama in the general election.2 One of Clinton's key arguments to superdelegates is that America won't elect a Black man, and therefore she's the better choice for Democrats to beat John McCain.3,4 While she makes that argument in private to superdelegates, in public, Clinton's campaign and her surrogates are doing everything they can to damage Barack Obama by ginning up fear and division and playing to the worst instincts of our society. It's an insult to Black people and all Americans, Obama and Clinton supporters alike.
The pattern has been clear and consistent to some party leaders. Last week, according to the Washington Post, James Clyburn -- who as House Majority Whip remains neutral and is the highest ranking Black member of Congress -- accused the Clintons of marginalizing Black voters.5 Referring to this strategy in another interview, Clyburn said that "Nothing in this campaign has been by accident."6
Congressman Clyburn warned that "black people are incensed" over the divisiveness of the Clinton strategy and that it threatens an irreparable breach between Black people and the Democratic Party.7 He's right. And if superdelegates hand Clinton a victory despite her defeat among voters, they will be condoning and rewarding that strategy.
Some party leaders have expressed strong concern about superdelegates overruling voters.8,9 But as a whole, superdelegates have not made it clear that they will respect the will of voters. Today, we want to send a clear, unequivocal message to superdelegates and other party leaders: Reject the idea that the nomination can be won with a strategy that preys on racism, sows division, and disenfranchises millions of voters.
Please join us:
-- James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, Mervyn, Andre, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
May 2nd, 2008
1. "Analysis: Time, delegate math working against Clinton," AP, 04-18-2008
2. Keith Olbermann Special Comment on Clinton Campaign, MSNBC, 03-12-2008
3. "Mark Halperin Explains the Clinton Argument for Staying In," Mark Halperin on FOX News, 03-28-2008
4. "Clinton ally: Some whites 'not ready' for Obama," AP, 02-12-2008
5. "Party Fears Racial Divide," Washington Post, 04-26-2008
6. "Vexing Issue for the Clinton Campaign: What to Make of Bill?," New York Times, 04-29-2008
7. "Black Leader in House Denounces Bill Clinton's Remarks," The Caucus, 04-24-2008
8. "Brazile: I'll Quit DNC Position Over Superdelegates," News & Notes, 02-11-2008
9. "Brazile: Howard Dean And Other Party Leaders Should Be Prepared To Step In," TPM Election Central, 03-05-2008