Monday, April 25, 2016
The Democratic Party is really not very Democratic
Hey! All you Democrats out there! The Democratic Party is really not very Democratic. Consider first the “Superdelegates.” Not only does the Democratic electorate have no say in who they are but it has no say even about how many “Superdelegates” are designated by the Democratic National Committee,. Not only is the voting process at the Democratic National Convention weighted by the so called "Superdelegates," but the Democratic National Committee is itself weighted by the inclusion of elected government officials and party functionaries. The executive committee of the party is even more so. You have to check the bylaws for the prescribed composition.
Anyway, Article Two, Section 4 of the Charter describes the procedures by which ‘ordinary’ delegates are chosen, and subsection (e) seems to exclude the creation of a significant block of delegates who were selected without the “participation in good faith of all voters…” BUT: Article Two, Section 5 throws democratic processes out the window. While the number of elected delegates is limited by the charter, the number of delegates which can be ‘designated’ by the Committee is not. Basically, Section 5 allows the appointment of any number of delegates by the Democratic National Committee, and if there are a mere 700 or so of them, it is because the National Committee has exercised some restraint. That is by my reading. For your convenience, I provide Section 5, so you may interpret, and decide, for your self.
THE CHARTER OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES
ARTICLE TWO, SECTION 5: The delegate vote allocable to each state shall be determined as provided in the Bylaws, consistent with the formula:
a. giving equal weight to population, which may be measured by electoral vote, and to the Democratic vote in elections for office of the President; and
b. giving such additional delegate votes as may be specifically designated by the Democratic National Committee in the Call to the Convention, subject to such conditions as may be set forth by the Democratic National Committee in said Call, for the purpose of providing incentives for scheduling the event constituting the first determining stage in the presidential nominating process in each state later in the year of the Convention than such event would otherwise be scheduled in the absence of such incentive; and
c. which shall also provide additional delegate positions to members of the Democratic National Committee; and
d. which may also provide additional delegate positions to Democratic elected public officials specifically designated by the Democratic National Committee in the Call to the Convention, subject to the provisions of Section 4.
Subsection a: is the sop to democratic process. The rest of the Article is the work around. The Charter and Bylaws of the Democratic Party and The Rules of the Republican Party, can be Googled, and any participant in our political processes should.
In a way, it is not in the interests for those members who are elected or appointed government officials for the Democratic party to actually be successful. The greater the success of the Democratic party, the greater the competition for positions on the National and Executive committees.
For comparison, I have also checked out The Rules of the Republican Party. The Republican document seems to be more procedural, and the Democratic Charter more purpose driven. The irony is that, (At least as far as I can tell. The comparison is not easy. Both documents seem to me to be unnecessarily obscure.) under their Rules Republicans are more democratically represented by their party officers than the Democrats under The Charter are by theirs. The Democratic Party structure is rigged in a way which caters to the establishment and is contrary to democratic principles. The Republican Party structure under its rules, anyway, is not.
The Democratic Charter seems to go back to 1972. (This is from the revision of 2012.) So there has been plenty of time for the appropriate people to notice this and bring it to the attention of the party membership.
A note of small humorousness: The Republicans have no mention of God in their preamble, nor of the Constitution. The Democrats mention both.
One other important question: Why is the government at all involved in the primaries? No one is elected to any government office, so why is it the government that is concerned with fairness or procedure. It is the concern of each of the various parties, to assure fairness, in their election. (Or not. The officers of the party may believe that an unfair nominating process will not compromise, and may enhance, the electability of their party's candidates in the general election.) The members of the various parties elect candidates they hope are both electable, and perhaps equally important, represent the interests and desires of a majority of that party's members.
As things stand, one party must overcome the opposition of the other party to follow the procedures it considers favorable to itself, and the other party must follow the procedures laid down by the opposition party, whether or not those are the procedures desired by its electorate.
These interests of the party electorate are not necessarily the same as the interests of the government, in particular the interests of the establishment politicians of the various states. Where they diverge, the government may be expected to interfere and impose conditions which harm the interests of the electorate. Where the government imposes procedures, the government must be expected to impose procedures which distort the primary process to favor its interests, rather than the party's. Granted, the party’s interests are not necessarily coherent. The party elite’s interests are not necessarily the interests of the party voters or the rank and file, as they may expected to align more with the government’s interests. Indeed, since one or another party is the government only if the government is disinterestedly and competently serving what the voters desire. Simply, it is the job of each party to run their own elections. It is not the government's job.
In fact, it is in the interests of each party to establish those rules and procedures which that party considers the best able to attain the goal of nominating the candidates who best most likely to win in the general election, while taking those positions the majority of the voters of that party desire. Failure to do so would disadvantage not only the particular party in the general election, but compromise the ability of the government to properly respond to the needs and desires of their electorate. It would thus compromise their ability to govern. Democracy is the best system while it is the most responsive to the electorate. When it fails to do this, when it corrupts the process or violates the principles of impartial access to information by the electorate, it is no longer.
Now, as it is, the government does subsidize the primaries by providing and servicing the polling places and vote counting and so forth. But as we have seen in places like Arizona, the government need not always provide these services fairly and in the desired quantity. So the government could provide the necessary services while allowing the various parties to form and follow their own policies and procedures. Provisions could be made to accommodate the minor parties.