Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The politics of political endorsements

Bill Clinton (R) embraces Congressman, John Lewis at the 35th anniversary of the march on Washington event at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs, MA, when Clinton was President.

by Godwin Y. Agboka

Why do people endorse the candidature of those seeking political office? I mean what is the criterion (or criteria) for the endorsements from governors, celebrities, civil rights leaders, and members of congress, etc. Do people endorse based on some principle or due to the promise of some material benefit in the future?

I would think that someone endorses a candidate based on some shared principle(s) between the candidate and the endorser. Thus, if I believe in Universal Health Care I am likely to endorse a candidate who shares this principle, as much as I will endorse a candidate who is pro-life, if that is my position.

Civil rights leader, John Lewis is reported to have dropped his support for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in favor of Barack Obama. The Democratic congressman from Atlanta is the most prominent black leader to defect from Clinton's campaign in the face of near-majority black support for Obama in recent voting. He is also a super-delegate who gets a vote at this summer's national convention in Denver.

I am sure there will be other defections, if what I have heard has any merits. My questions are: what is it that Lewis saw, initially, in Hillary that is missing? Or, which of Hillary’s principles did he share that is no more on the candidate’s cards? I am sure these will remain rhetorical questions forever!

I am told that superdelegates are independent, and, so, are free to support candidates of their choice, but it is also probable that these superdelegates can change their positions if their constituencies support a candidate which they necessarily do not. That makes sense!

However, what signals are endorsers sending to Americans if they make a swift turn to other candidates, once the candidates they endorsed, initially, are not doing as well as they expected? What drives people to endorse: principle (policy issues) or some material benefits?

The text for this piece is set to American English.

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