Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What Kind of Democracy, Indeed?

Some time ago, in response to my post endorsing Sandra Kurt for City Council, a commenter posted:

    What kind of a Democracy is it that allows 15 Democrat PC's win the endorsement of the entire Democratic Party?
Wayne in Akron revisted the point with a link to an Eric Mansfield post.

Not for want of trying, I'm having a tough time getting lathered about this. And I think it's not just because a friend of mine has benefited from the process.

The question presented is what sort of criteria the party should have for endorsing a candidate. It shouldn't be a big surprise that at least one criterion is service to the party. As an organization the party wants people who will be loyal soldiers. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. It's like saying "OMG, the Dem House Caucus endorsed all the incumbents!!"

I'm no stranger to criticizing the local party and it's leadership. But in a way I think the fact that Precinct Chairs have gotten endorsements is a potentially more democratic result, given that the Chairs themselves are elected unless no one runs in which case they are appointed. SCPD caused a stir some years back by running in as many PC races as they could. The party establishment wasn't exactly thrilled when a bunch of them won. They didn't take over, but it did highlight at least one way regular folks could demand change within the party.

And by the way it was her involvement in that sort of grassroots insurgency that brough Sandra Kurt to the attention of the party leadership. To their credit they embraced her, her energy and the important constituency she represents. Given some of the other, very fine candidates in Ward 8, Sandra certainly wasn't the "safest" choice, PC or not.

At any rate, in response to the question posed, what kind of democracy is it? A representative one. If you don't like what elected representatives do, you vote them out. But it's rarely a direct democracy. Happily, it's only an endorsement. What really matters is who gets the votes next week.