Letters to the Editor
Readers write about superdelegates and democracy across cultures.
Superdelegates play a different but vital roleSkip to next paragraph
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Regarding Daniel Baer's March 26 Opinion piece, "The story you're missing on superdelegates": I fundamentally agree with Mr. Baer's piece, yet argue with his characterization of superdelegates' role.
The Democratic primary voters are representative only of, well, Democratic primary voters. The superdelegates are representative of a wider array of voters who decided at one point to vote for and elect a Democrat. Both groups are highly legitimate, but if their legitimacy is different in nature, they are equal in value.
Yes, the superdelegates should vote only with their conscience (or gut feelings), but not because they are separated from a democratic electoral process, rather because they emerge from a different one.
They should ideally choose the candidate that their own voters would have themselves nominated – with the theory that, collectively put, all these individual choices amount to the choice of a candidate who has the best chance to win in November.
Their conscience (or gut feelings) should be guided, framed, and driven by the trust given to them by their own voters, the promises they made to them, and the person they claimed to be when they themselves ran for office – and were elected.
Thoughts on inherent democracy
In response to Tim Hackler's March 25 Opinion piece, "Is democracy a natural state of mankind?": When Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton spoke of "mankind," they were thinking of that which they knew best: their next of kin in Europe and North America. They weren't thinking in terms of what we now call "humankind." Had they understood the world as we know it today, as, shall we say, the "global village," I am quite sure their views would have been tempered significantly.
What's more, they seem to have conflated two forces: the wisdom of democracy and the wisdom of reason. Remember, Plato – no doubt a man of reason – was not too keen on democracy (see "The Republic").
In any case, Mr. Hackler eloquently pointed out something that few in the United States government have noticed: Democracy requires a very particular kind of cultural/philosophical base in order to function. In the case of Europe and America, that base was – as Hackler said – greatly informed by a powerful philosophical tradition called the Enlightenment.
If we Americans push democracy upon cultures without that tradition, we are in essence pushing nothing, for democracy is but a protocol meant to reflect an underlying cultural/philosophical base.
Thus I agree with one of Hackler's main points: Democracy is not a natural state of humankind. But I take it further: Democracy and reason do not presuppose one another.
Matthew John Dorman
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Regarding Tim Hackler's recent Opinion piece on cross-cultural democracy: Mr. Hackler mentioned, "[I]f Jefferson returned today, he would be shocked by the reemergence of self-styled Christians hacking away at the wall between church and state."
Hackler is a member of a long list of journalists that choose to poke at Christianity as a culprit, but fail to also mention the state religions that are creeping across the church/state divide, such as socialism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, and other equally divisive beliefs, not all of which are negative in their doctrines.
Tell me, why is it usually religion that is referenced when something negative between the state and the people is written about?
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