Color of Change, an online advocacy group, has asked its 400,000 members to sign an open letter to Democratic leaders, including Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and all superdelegates.
Their petition effectively declares game over and Barack Obama is the winner:
Leaders of the Democratic Party are playing a dangerous game -- risking the credibility of the party to hand Hillary Clinton the nomination against the will of voters. Heading down this path means disenfranchising millions of voters and legitimizing a campaign strategy that has displayed a clear pattern of race baiting and divisive politics.
Join us in demanding that Democratic Party leadership and superdelegates uphold the integrity of the party and listen to the voice of voters.
In a nomination battle full of ironies, Obama likely would not sign the petition. During his appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama acknowledged that superdelegates are not required to “follow the will of voters”:
I, I think the superdelegates, by rule, can make their own decision. I think the superdelegates are going to take a look not at momentary snapshot polls, but they're going to take a look at who's run the campaign that can bring about change in America and can actually govern after the election.
I asked the good folks at Color of Change what they hoped to achieve. In an email message, their communications director, Mervyn Marcano, wrote:
We want the Democratic Party's nominee for the Presidency to be determined by the will of ordinary voters who have eagerly participated in primary contests across the country. We also want party leaders to reject the pattern of race-baiting our members have seen the Clinton campaign rely on throughout the primary contests.
OK, so how do you reconcile your position with Democratic Party rules that make it clear that superdelegates can exercise independent judgment?
Good judgment is what our members are demanding from Democratic Party leaders. They should cast their superdelegate vote in the best interest of the party; we think handing the nomination to a candidate by disenfranchising millions of voters is bad for democracy.
Well, isn’t it bad for democracy to add to the confusion, particularly for new voters who are not familiar with the nomination process?
This petition has a simple and basic demand -- when the people vote, those votes should not be overruled by party insiders. What we're hearing is that voters, and new voters in particular, will be turned off if Democratic Party elites hand the nomination to Clinton, against the will of voters.
One question I didn’t ask: How does a race-based petition campaign help Obama broaden his appeal among white working-class voters?