Posted at 5:00 AM, March 1, 2018 in the Bucks County Courier Times
The Bucks County Democratic Party turned on democracy last week. Nothing new about that. County Democrats have been doing damage to democracy for as long as we can remember. Same for the Republican Party.
The parties’ leaders hurt democracy every time they hold one of their endorsement confabs and handpick a candidate to which party money, manpower and resources are awarded. This election’s big prize winner is Scott Wallace, Buckingham lawyer and well-heeled philanthropist. He’s the Democrats’ choice to take on incumbent Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick in the newly designated 1st District, formerly the 8th.
But don’t get confused. By “Democrats” choice, we don’t mean regular registered Democratic Party voters. We mean the party’s committee members, the insiders who toil for the party and the candidates the party likes best.
What they like best about Wallace isn’t clear. He doesn’t have a record of public service, not in any elected government capacity here in Bucks County. So he’s never really been involved in local or county issues. Some might say he has a thin political resume′. He has been involved in larger issues as executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, which sprinkles money on initiatives around the world dealing with climate change and challenges to democracy.
On that latter point, Wallace might want to speak to his own party about how endorsements challenge democracy by forcing unendorsed candidates out of a primary contest before voters get to have a say in the primary election. This often happens because the odds of defeating an endorsed candidate are long what with the spoils of party backing bolstering the favored candidate’s campaign treasury, workforce and, ultimately, public profile.
And so dropping out of a fixed race seems like the politically wise and financially prudent thing to do since staying in could turn a candidate into a permanent party outcast for forcing the party to spend resources it would rather hold for the fall.
To their credit, the unendorsed Democrats have not dropped out — a good thing for voters and democracy because if there’s no choice to make on Election Day, there’s no reason to vote. And so the candidates were understandably critical of the party.
Rachel Reddick, a former Naval officer and lieutenant in the Naval reserves, said: “This election will not be decided by political insiders or the status quo, but instead by the amazing people in our community.”
We’re on board with that. We’re also on board with rival candidate Steve Bacher, who likewise called out party insiders.
“Voters want a party run by the people, from the bottom up, not one run from the top down by big money,” Bacher said, adding that the party endorsement “does not serve the interests of people who are fighting to preserve the people’s voice in our democracy.”
That’s the bottom line: the people’s voice. When it isn’t heard, democracy withers because the people have no reason to participate. When it is heard, when candidates have a chance to make their case to the people, democracy is made more vibrant. So are candidates, as the primary campaign helps them refine and strengthen their message and to grow as candidates.
It’s a tragedy for our democracy and an insult to the people that political parties just don’t care about democracy.