Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What we should have done (sham nominating conventions)

Instead of putting on sham nominating conventions across Washington State, we Dems should have done something different. Well, we shouldn't have sued to overturn 872 in the first place.

But, we could have become more relevant on our own term type organizations, rather than forcing our way into relevancy. Rather than writing my point all over again, I'll just quote myself:

The most blistering attack on the Top Two is that it hurts parties, and therefore hurts democracy. I'd agree that parties are good for Democracy, but the kinds of parties that are built for closed primaries are not the kinds of parties people are seeking to join. In essence, we need parties that are built for people that tried to get their friends to vote a certain way and put bumper stickers on their cars, but didn't attend a political meeting.

As politics is becoming less traditional, moving out into the world of personal relationships, so do the parties (or at least the Democratic Party does, I don't really care what the Republicans do).

I like the ideas of the Blue Tiger Democrats in this regard. They say the local parties should be as interested in civic engagement on the local level as they are with winning elections. The more people see the Democratic Party itself as a force for good, the way you see the Shriners or the Lions, and less as an organization that sues to overturn a popular initiative and win elections for the sake of winning elections, the better.

Granted, the Top Two primary is gone and was obviously unconstitutional. But, I would have loved to see the party that thrived under those conditions. How would you have built a party, with broad participation, if you had an open primary system?

An Obama alternate delegate from Thurston County wrote this blistering attack on us (political party types) after going through the caucus process:

And, more to the point, I was constantly on the verge of asking why a party that self-styles itself “Democratic” completely fails to choose its nominee in a democratic manner. The caucus system itself is already designed to disenfranchise more people than necessary. [While I acknowledge the limitations of a traditional primary vote, it at least has the advantage of not turning away those with disabilities (the caucus I attended was decidedly wheelchair-unfriendly), those with jobs that require their presence on Saturday mornings, and those who are not particularly interested in sitting around for several hours to cast a vote.]


But that’s the wrong impulse. The right response, after learning more about how fucked up the political system in this country, is to want to limit as much as possible the amount of sway political parties have. I want the Thurston Democrats and Republicans to have as much political power as the Thurston County Economic Development Council or the League of Women Voters. In other words, take the political parties out of politics. Let the people decide with as few or as many filters as they want.

Limit as much as possible the amount of sway political parties have. Local parties with as much power as the EDC or League of Women Voters.

This isn't death, we can live and thrive in a world like that.

That's what is happening anyway (see this link again) and the lawsuits against the Top Two are the reaction of an entrenched political bureaucracy against changing times.

People already are engaging in politics in ways that are contrary to how political parties operate. If we want to be relevant, we should stop trying to force people into closed primaries and meet them where they're at.

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