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A delegate is a person who is generally empowered to represent a larger group. Such a group might be a union, a non-profit organization, a state, a political organization or a corporation. For example, a member of the United States House of Representatives is a delegate for the territory, which elected him or her. As a member of the House, he or she works in the interests of his or her territory, at least theoretically.
To delegate is to give authority or responsibility to others. In a sense, those who chose a delegate are choosing someone who will represent them and their interests. Instead of representing one’s self, a large organization may choose one or several people who are empowered to act for the company. This person is often also called a representative.
Though a delegate may represent the interests of an organized body, not all are equally empowered to act. For example, a delegate of a company who might participate in union negotiations may not be able to make decisions for the company. He or she may assert the interests of the company, but may need to have decisions approved by the heads of a company.
Similarly, a delegate for a union might be limited in powers. He or she might be able to bring a company’s proposed deal to the union, but union members may have the power to vote on final contractual decisions.
With a delegate who is a member of the House of Representatives, the person is supposed to represent all of his constituents. However, this is rarely the case. Instead, the delegate usually represents the interests of the party who elected him or her. Unless the person commits an act that would ban him from the House, he or she can vote on any issues by personal decision. The representative has enough power to act independently of the people represented. However, failure to vote in a fashion that satisfies the majority of the people will usually result in voters electing someone else in the future.
Sometimes, candidates for major political offices, like the US presidency, are called superdelegates. Each candidate is essentially a delegate who is attempting to gain the office and lead the country from a specific political ideology, i.e., Democrat, Republican or Libertarian. Such people represent the political parties that support them, but since the job of President is such a large one, the “superdelegate” term is deserved.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a delegate in the context of political conventions?
A delegate in political conventions is an individual chosen to represent their political party at local, state, or national conventions. They are responsible for participating in the selection of the party's candidates for various offices, including the presidency. Delegates are often selected based on their support for a particular candidate or their level of involvement in the party's activities. Their votes at conventions are crucial in determining the party's nominee for elections.
How are delegates selected for political conventions?
Delegates are selected through a variety of processes that can include primary elections, caucuses, and party meetings. The specific method varies by state and party rules. In primary elections, party members vote for delegates pledged to presidential candidates, while caucuses involve local gatherings where party members select delegates. Some delegates are also appointed by party committees or are automatic delegates by virtue of holding certain party positions or elected offices.
What is the difference between a delegate and a superdelegate?
A delegate typically has their vote at a convention tied to the results of primary elections or caucuses in their state or district. In contrast, a superdelegate, also known as an unpledged delegate, is free to support any candidate for the presidential nomination at the party's national convention. Superdelegates are usually party leaders, elected officials, or members of the Democratic National Committee and are unique to the Democratic Party.
Can delegates change their vote during a convention?
Delegates are generally bound to vote according to the results of the primary elections or caucuses in the first ballot at the convention. However, if no candidate secures the required number of votes for the nomination on the first ballot, many delegates are then released from their commitments and can change their vote in subsequent ballots. This process can lead to what is known as a brokered convention, where negotiations and additional voting rounds determine the nominee.
What role do delegates play in shaping party platforms?
Delegates play a significant role in shaping party platforms, which are the sets of principles and policy positions that a party adopts at its convention. Delegates participate in committee meetings and discussions to draft the platform, and they ultimately vote on its adoption. Through this process, delegates influence the party's stance on various issues and help set the agenda for the party's candidates in the upcoming elections.