[EM] Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process (Primary Thoughts)

Fred Gohlke fredgohlke at verizon.net
Wed Jul 4 13:31:07 PDT 2012

Good Afternoon, Michael

re: "Meanwhile the party is a fact, and it seems to rest (at
      least in definition) on a contrary assumption, that of
      *non*-universality.  I wish therefore to begin by imagining
      away that assumption.  What happens to the party when its
      primary decisions may no longer be restricted to members,
      but must be opened to universal and equal participation?"

I'm sorry, Michael, but I cannot make such an assumption.  I can imagine 
universal equality but I cannot imagine a party where the "primary 
decisions may no longer be restricted to members".  Such an assumption 
defeats the party's reason for being.  I am unable to imagine an entity 
that does not include its essential characteristics.

Is it necessary to imagine 'party' as existing before universal 
equality?  Would it not be better to imagine 'party', and the 
exclusivity that is inherent in the concept of 'party', as a natural 
outgrowth of universal equality?

re: "When you say 'start with a different core', I'm unsure
      whether you mean a core of deciders, or of decisions."

I mean that the members of each of the parties have a different set of 
core opinions.  When these core members interact with non-party members, 
the effect of their influence on the non-party members will vary, 
depending on a multitude of circumstances.  The non-party members will 
influence the opinions of the core members in the same way.

Moreover, since one non-party individual can only join one of the 
existing parties, the individual's influence on and reaction to the 
influence of the party is indeterminate.  As an imaginary example, an 
assertive, strong-willed non-partisan may influence and be influenced by 
a liberal party to a completely different extent than the same person 
would influence and be influenced by a conservative party.

re: "The parties may be different from each other (in their
      histories, if nothing else), but henceforth they may not
      make decisions about the sponsorship of candidates without
      opening each step of the process to anyone who wishes to
      participate.  When voicing the first nomination for party P,
      the lowliest member of a competing party Q has an equal
      opportunity to that of P's leader.

     "An ultra-left party would normally be expected to start with
      a left leaning nominee, but exactly this expectation no
      longer applies.  All leanings from the center are now
      equally likely, where the center is defined collectively by
      those who choose to participate, and the effort they expend."

This is the assumption I cannot accept.  It defies the party's reason 
for being.  I can imagine a system where parties nominate candidates 
that advocate the party's position, and then subjects those candidates 
to the judgment of non-partisans, but I cannot imagine a party operating 
outside the dictates of its membership.

re: "It sounds strange, but the party introduces an element of
      morality that is missing from the state electoral system.
      The state system tells us who *shall* be elected to office,
      but it fails to tell us who *ought* to be.  This failing is
      something I know you already appreciate, but I want to
      emphasize that it's a moral failing.  A power is exercised
      without a right.  It is what we would expect from a tyrant,
      not from an institution of democracy."

Morality is a human trait.  It cannot exist in non-human entities, 
whether political parties or business corporations.  Any morality 
displayed by such entities is the morality of their leaders.  When a 
party tells us who 'ought' to be elected to office, it is not making a 
moral statement, it is making a self-serving statement.  The person the 
party tells us we 'ought' to elect is the person the party believes will 
best advance the party's interest not the public's interest.  When 
parties name the candidates for public office, they are, indeed, 
exercising a power without a right.

re: "This is a moral contribution (in form), which is exactly
      what we need."

I agree we need to let the people impress their moral sense on their 
government.  That is not possible when parties choose the candidates for 
public office.

Is there a way we can pursue this line of inquiry without making 
assumptions that strip political parties of their essential nature?


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