The 2016 presidential election is riddled with absurdities, but some of the strangest questions involve the American political process itself. For instance, who and what are the “superdelegates” securing Hillary Clinton such a strong lead in the Democratic primary? Luckily, Samantha Bee returned from her show’s two-week hiatus on Monday to answer exactly that question.
First, Bee took viewers on a short tour of recent American political history. As Bee pointed out, voters having a role in party nominations is a relatively recent phenomenon. The organizations simply used to choose their own candidates themselves, something they are technically entitled to do. In Bee’s words, “Political parties aren’t the government; they’re semi-private clubs. If they wanted, they could use a Sorting Hat to pick their nominees.”
One turning point was the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which erupted into violence after party leaders chose the pro-establishment Hubert Humphrey over more populist anti-war candidates. Bee even created a fake flashback to what she and Full Frontal might’ve looked like at the time — her announcement of the news is greeted with angry shouting and Molotov cocktails. The Democratic party responded by changing their rules and allowing voters to pick the nominee, although as Bee pointed out, this didn’t exactly lead to lasting electoral success.
“To avoid another riot, the Democratic Party changed their rules to give power to the people, which the people celebrated by dropping a s–t ton of acid with Hunter S. Thompson and nominating George McGovern, who went on to a resounding general election victory in D.C. and Massachusetts,” Bee said. “Four years later, they picked saintly, ahead-of-his-time Jimmy Carter, who only won because his opponent, Gerald Ford, was the Harley Quinn to Nixon’s Joker. Four years after that, Ted Kennedy waged a brutal primary challenge that left Carter as weak and defenseless as a woman left to drown in an Oldsmobile.”
So then the Democrats changed again in 1982, instituting a system of superdelegates. Democratic governors, members of Congress, and other party elites got a bigger say in the process. However, Bee pointed out that it’s mostly a cautionary measure; superdelegates still only ever support who they see as the strongest, most popular candidate anyway. Which brings the conversation back to the main question at play: Are superdelegates unfairly giving Clinton the edge over Bernie Sanders?
“If Bernie gets more votes than Hillary, her superdelegates will drop her faster than she drops her fake Southern accent the second she leaves South Carolina,” Bee said. “How do I know? Because they did it in ’08!”
Bee’s conclusion is that superdelegates don’t hijack the democratic process. They’re more like driving safety instructors keeping their foot hovering over the brakes to stop someone like Donald Trump from taking over the primary.
“Believe me, Republicans would give their left nut for superdelegates right now,” Bee said.
Watch the clip below.