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Let the People Decide — Not Party Operatives!

In a democratic society, the people are supposed to decide who they want to represent them. Thus, political party operatives should not pick sides in a primary, rig the process to advantage their own anointed ones, draw district lines to advantage themselves, work to protect incumbent politicians just because they are incumbents, or, Heaven forbid, try to meddle in leadership battles in the legislature.

It disturbs me that Delaware often seems to have a political culture in which powerful people (and their courtiers) think they are entitled to choose who gets to run for office. Our government is controlled, almost exclusively, by one political party, and, although I am sure it is more complicated than this, it appears to be run by a handful of people and their competing fiefdoms. Indeed, it often seems as if people are hand-selected to run in some kind of backroom deal. We are all supposed to go along to get along and woe be it to the person who dares to ask a question or challenge power.

Thus I was not surprised to see the recent report issued by the Center for Public Integrity that gave the First State a failing grade on accountability and transparency, ranking us 48th in the nation. The CPI Report puts solid evidence behind complaints we hear regularly about Delaware’s political culture – that it’s difficult and expensive for citizens to access the information they need and to make their voices heard; that cronyism, nepotism, and patronage play too large a role in public decision-making; that conflicts of interest openly abound; that partisanship too often dominates; and that we still suffer from the “pay to play” political culture described years ago in the Veasey Report.

Hillary BernieAt the level of state and nation, both political parties are experiencing internal splits right now. Party members are divided.

I can’t speak for the Republicans but on the Democratic side, some people get upset if you even mention policy differences between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders because there is this idea that you can’t criticize Hillary.

Particularly because of the democratic values the Democrats are supposed to stand for, I find it deeply offensive when party operatives, instead of letting the People decide whether they want a more moderate or a more progressive candidate, try to tip the scales to advantage the party favorite. We have primaries for a reason. Let them yield the nominees.

The proper role of a party is not to decide who our representatives will be or draw electoral lines to prevent competitive elections. It is not to support incumbents just because they are incumbents, or endorse a candidate, then cut off party resources for that person’s competitors; I hope neither of those things will happen in this election cycle.

Let’s let the People decide who they want to represent them and encourage primary challenges to give the voters a real choice for  a change — because that is what democracy is all about.





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