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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Primary =/= Democracy

by folkbum

One thing I've been wanting to get off my chest for a while, prompted by the story of Debra Bartoshevich's being stripped of her delegate status to the Democratic national convention in Denver in August. I was reminded of it last week when Lance "Two Columns a Week My Ass" Burri noted the planned stripping; he quoted a Racine Journal Times story on the matter which includes this complaint from the now-ex-delegate herself:
"If they decide to strip me of my status, they decide to do something un-American," Bartoshevich said. "It’s not democracy. It doesn’t stand for unity, which the party wants."
There are so very, very many things about that sentence that are just flat wrong. Take the "unity" line. Bartoshevich does not represent party unity, since it is and has been clear that she intends not to vote for the Democrat in November. That's like the opposite of unity.

But more importantly, party candidate selection is not Democracy. It never has been; some day, perhaps, it will be. But the parties make their own rules for how to select candidates, and those rules have little to do with one person, one vote. In fact, based on the way delegate selections are weighted in different places around the country, there are people whose votes count less or more than others' in the same state.

The problem (for some people) is that as major-party candidate-selection processes have moved out of the back rooms and into the limelight, they have taken on the appearance of (small-d) democratic processes, though they are not. (Minor parties don't even pretend to be democratic; how many Greens voted for Cynthia McKinney in a primary? And, relatedly, how many Greens are chuckling to themselves about how the Bartoshevich affair shows that Democrats are falling apart and losing touch with The People?)

In the end, Bartoshevich has no one to blame for this herself. John McCain will be bad for the country. Barack Obama is not some kind of demigod in whom the future of all humanity rests (despite the efforts of those who will never vote for him to elevate him so), certainly, but he will be a better president than McCain. If Bartoshevich cannot see that, then, frankly, I don't want her in my party or at my party's convention. And that's not un-American--it's reality.

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