Mere Hours in the Limelight 4/14/08

Would that there were a way to assure that those hard working, long suffering, non-whining political activists, the ones who get everything done without complaining or expecting any great reward, could be the very same delegates who get to choose party nominees and conduct other party business at the state conventions held every two years. Alas, it would be extremely difficult to insure that these folks, the ones who know how to get things done, were elected to those august positions. The system is set up to promote democracy, which is a different thing altogether from efficiency.

The way the DFL system works (I have no desire to spend much time finding out how the Republican system works) delegates move forward either by being elected by vote of delegates present at senate district or county unit conventions (from those elected at precinct caucuses) or by an enigmatic system known as walking sub-caucuses, a system I will not attempt to describe, it being so esoteric as to confuse even the most knowledgeable politico. Suffice it to say that in either case if one is a comfortable, polished public speaker able to persuade one has a better chance of being elected. Unfortunately not all knowledgeable, dedicated activists have this requisite skill. Many folks who know what is going on with the party and in their own communities, and would make excellent delegates, are averse to tooting their own horn in public. It is not in their natures to gloat over their accomplishments.

The result of these truths is, although meant to increase democratic participation, the system often elects delegates who simply want to be in the spotlight for that one weekend every two years the party meets to convene. They hang out, go to the parties, feel important when the candidates want to personally talk to them, do some voting and then disappear into the crowd, not to be seen again until the next time delegates are selected at the precinct caucuses, starting the selection process for another election cycle’s convention.

Try as I might I have yet to figure out a way this peculiar type of perversion can be overcome without also ruining the democratic process. Perhaps we will just have to get used to having democracy run by those who know how to worm their way into the photo ops without ever doing any appreciable work. Wait, aren’t we already governed by professional election winners instead of real statesmen. Maybe if we could see past how well a person looks in a suit or how effectively they can sell themselves we might be able to elect delegates and subsequently nominate and elect candidates who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirty for the common good.

Heaven forbid we elect citizen/statesmen/women who actually remember how to manifest good old American know how.

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