Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Power to the Pols

If Joe Lieberman wins the election in November — and I sincerely hope that he doesn’t. I can’t decide if he’s a schmuck or a putz. — it will go a long way to proving a long-held contention of mine, that the Democratic Party’s decline began when the party bosses turned over the power of selecting candidates to the party’s rank-and-file. Case in point: John Kerry. Primary voters decided he was more electable than the other candidates. It was his gravitas, it was reported. Well, the gravitas thing may have worked on the floor of the Senate but it didn’t play so well in the rest of the country.

Of course, there were several other factors that kept Kerry from winning, and he certainly didn’t lose by much. Among the factors working against Kerry were the Vietnam War issues that he didn’t address adroitly enough, his too-heavy reliance on advisors, and ballot measures tailored to bring cultural conservatives to the polls, but the bottom-line issue, in my opinion, is that voters didn’t like him enough to repudiate Bush. The primary voters were wrong again.

From what I saw, Edwards had the charisma and the message, as well as the fire and the quick-wittedness, to take on Bush-Cheney-Rove but apparently he was seen as not seasoned enough. It’s a damn shame. So if Lieberman wins (a poll last week gave Lieberman 45% to Lamont’s 43%, with the rest either undecided or for Schlesinger), maybe it will be time to start a discussion about giving political professionals more control over the candidate selection process.

UPDATE: Call it a psychic reading or a strange coincidence but as I was writing this post a ruling in a similar situation was being handed down in New York. According to The New York Times (N.Y./Region, August 31, 2006), a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled on Wednesday, August 30, that the New York State system of choosing State Supreme Court judges based on nominating conventions was unconstitutional. The ruling upheld a lower court decision ordering that primary elections be held until a new system is set up by the state legislature. “Critics have long contended that the practice effectively robbed voters of their say in who made it to the bench,“ reporter William K. Rashbaum wrote.

It’s a lovely sentiment but I’d be astonished if most voters, even educated, politically savvy ones, were dedicated enough and had enough time to research who would make the best judges, on the State Supreme Court or any other court, for that matter.

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