Version anglaise ; version française en dessous.
Why should there not be an unexpected surprise at the Denver Convention ?
Today, it is the final countdown : the Democratic Convention will take place in exactly twenty days, starting on the 26th of August. So let us remind our readers of a few historical facts about past Conventions which also had unexpected outcomes. Several times in the history of the two main political parties, some national conventions happened to be "brokered". This word means that neither candidate had managed to obtain the necessary number of delegates to secure nomination. The candidates were so tied that everything had to be decided during the convention : the delegates had to choose to vote for the one they judged the best able to win the general election.
Of course, theoretically this year, the Democratic Convention cannot be "brokered" as Obama has reached the magic number. I say "theoretically" because Obama has not managed to reach this total thanks to the delegates who were chosen by voters during the primaries. On June the third, after the last primaries, he was still short of a certain amount of "pledged delegates" ; and yet, he was proclaimed the winner of the Democratic contest. His "victory" is due only to the superdelegates who decided to give him their support on that same day, and who are free to change their minds during the Convention, according to the rules of the Party.
So why might we not imagine a terrible catastrophis for the Illinois senator ? In the past, the "presumptive nominee" has already been defeated unexpectedly at the very end of a convention... Why not this year ?
In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was finally nominated after several ballots during a "brokered" convention. It means this great man, this historical figure was far from being unanimously popular and unchallenged in his own party ! Everybody knows what happened afterwards : not only did he win the general election in November, but he was reelected president several times, and he will remain the only president who served four terms (as the number of presidential terms is now limited to two).
During that much fought convention, Roosevelt had not managed to secure a sufficient number of delegates for the nomination after three ballots. The convention thus came to a deadlock, after several days of discussions and quarrels. The Democratic party was divided into three competing factions : Roosevelt was supported by Western progressives, minorities, farmers and intellectuals. Al Smith had the support of the DNC and John Garner was supported by William Randolph Hearst, the press magnate. There seemed to be no solution : the party was on the verge of disintegration.
Suddenly, a miracle happened. That miracle was a phone call, made by Joseph Kennedy to William Hearst. The two men started to negotiate and reached an agreement. William Hearst accepted to convince Garner to withdraw from the race and to support Roosevelt. The candidate was thus chosen after hours of negotiations.
In 1968, the Convention might have been brokered to if Robert Kennedy had not been assassinated just before.
The 1984 election is a more recent and interesting example : Walter Mondale, former vice-president, appeared as the most likely nominee, but he was short of forty delegates to secure nomination. Gary Hart was his challenger. Finally, the superdelegates selected Mondale. The result of the general election was a disaster for Democrats : Reagan won in a landslide. Mondale only managed to win his state !
In 1988, once again there was a tight fight. Three contenders were very close in the number of delegates : Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and Jesse Jackson. Mickael Dukakis was considered as the frontrunner, especially by the media. He eventually became the nominee. But everybody knows what happened in November when he faced George Bush, the current president's father...
All these past examples show that a much disputed contest is not new. Last spring, pundits were predicting a brokered convention in August, between Hillary and Barack Obama. This is what should have normally happened : one has to say it aloud. The Convention should have selected the nominee, not the DNC. This would have been a total respect of the party's rules. Superdelegates are not supposed to crown a "king". It is the role of a national convention of a party to do that in a democratic way, by voting.This is what Hillary wanted, at first. This is what she seemed to wish on the 3rd of June, on the day the primaries ended. Let's listen to what she said on that particular night, after winning (big) the South Dakota primary..
Then, a few days after, after intense pressure and threats, she changed her mind and endorsed Obama. But what did they tell her to make her give up, to convince her whereas she had always promised to fight on ?
In reality, she was the victim too of Howard Dean and his colleagues, as the superdelegates had been. They have all been submitted to a constant pressure and harassment by the DNC leaders. Howard Dean and his friends urged them to rally the Obama camp for the sake of the party's unity. So, as Superdelegates were afraid of losing the support of their own party for the November congressional election, a lot of them obeyed and executed the order. It does not mean, of course, that they really agreed with the choice of the DNC : the DNC and its leaders alone decided to impose their candidate : they wanted Obama, not Hillary.
Normally, everything should have been debated during the Convention. This is what happened several times in History, so why not this year ?
The only answer I've found to this question is that this year, the DNC is no more a Democratic organization : this is a dictatorship, an organization led by thugs. They have stolen this election, and a lot of superdelegates have chosen to be their accomplices. What happened to democracy ?
This was done for the sake of the unity of the party...
So, what is the result today ?
The Democratic Party has NEVER been so divided !