As Samantha Bee returned to Full Frontal Monday after a two-week break, she noted that things have gotten a bit uglier in the race toward the Democratic primary. For example, one Bernie Sanders supporter created a “Superdelegate Hit List” aimed at providing contact information for superdelegates. Of course, to understand what this means, one must first know what a superdelegate is, exactly. Bee shed some much-needed clarity not only on what superdelegates are but also the limits to what they can do—and, in turn, why perhaps some of Sanders’ more zealous supporters should quit harassing them.
Some Sanders supporters—including the Superdelegate Hit List’s creator—think superdelegates are undemocratic. But Bee explained that they were created as a middle-ground solution between the opaque selection system that saw Hubert Humphrey nominated despite constituents’ wishes in 1968 and the more democratic but still flawed process that followed and selected not-so-strong candidates.
Yes, superdelegates can support any candidate they want, but they’ve never defied the masses’ will before—because, as we learned with Humphrey’s nomination, that doesn’t end well. Clinton herself knows this all too well, as she lost the superdelegates’ vote to Barack Obama back in 2008. “Think of them as the driving instructor with her foot hovering over the brake,” Bee advised. “She’ll only use her power if the party is about to do a Thelma & Louise.”