Monday, July 28, 2008

I'm waiting to see a Progressive Party of Delaware emerge...

... and I'm serious.

I've been watching the brewhaha over Jack Markell and John Carney, not just with smug amusement at Democrat discomfiture (because, hey, I'm human), but also because jason and liberalgeek and pandora are right about this: Whichever one of them wins the primary will be my next governor, like it or not.

Frankly, my gut tells me it's going to be John Carney. The advertising story is off the front page of the Snooze Journal today, and for most voters who are not party insiders it is a blip on the radar. Bloggers are doing their best to give the story legs, but I am skeptical. (Although I'm always willing to be proven wrong.)

The problem is, I take my friends over at Delawareliberal at their word: the Delaware Democratic Party is full of entrenched party hacks, special interests, corporate interests, and union interests--all of whom seem to have more or less forgotten that the purpose of politics is supposedly large than lining their own pockets and those of their constituents.

They have the money, and the party organization, and the smaller Progressive organizations or the grassroots candidates like Karen Hartley-Nagle have no real shot because they're not playing ball.

In this milieu Jack Markell is an anomaly, because as an entrepreneur with strong UD connections to help in the fund-raising, he's almost the local equivalent of a Steve Forbes or a Ross Perot--an individual who can, at least once, muster the resources to take on the machine in an open fight.

But I think he's going to lose--which is a shame because even though I'm not a Democrat, if I have to choose between Markell, Carney, and Bill Lee it's going to be Markell I'd be voting for. A Carney-Lee election race boils down to the tools of two parties up on the stage as sockpuppets of their respective political machines.

On the other hand, Jack Markell--and yes, even Mike Protack--are making part of a very important point for us here in Delaware if we can only see it: issues are more important than the parties which have taken on a corporate (and I use the word in all its worst senses) life of its own. The parties as organizations, like any other large corporation, now respond to survival instincts rather than rational, political strategies.

So I think it's time for a few more of them.

We've already got the IPOD which, for all of its problems is a sign in the right direction: more parties equal more democracy, less machine, and greater responsiveness to the grassroots.

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that my friends at Delawareliberal became the organizing cadre behind the Progressive Party of Delaware, a party that was completely willing to run fusion campaigns with the Delaware Democratic Party when the candidates and the issues matched, but also willing to take the battle to the ballot box when they didn't?

What would that mean?

For one thing, right off, it would mean that on occasion the Democrats and Progressive would split the vote and let a Republican or (my hope!) a Libertarian slip in. But to be honest, I doubt it would happen very often. If the PPD could even capture 10-15% of the currently registered Democrats, then the Democratic candidates would find themselves forced to move toward PPD stances in order to secure that fusion nomination and that critical percentage of the vote.

And if at least one or two "name" Democrats--let's just say Karen Petersen or John Kowalko for kicks and grins--could be talked into jumping ship to the PPD, that would give the party standing in the General Assembly and force the Dems to do a fusion ticket as well in some districts.

This is NOT a low-maintenance strategy. A number of people with whom I am involved are trying to bring back the Libertarian Party of Delaware from just about room temperature. It's not easy; hell, it's downright frustrating. And the LPD is currently a fragment of what could be garnered by a new Progressive Party.

But the beauty of the plan is that even if it doesn't work, it still works.

Even if the PPD lasted only a few years, or even a single election cycle, it would force the Democratic Party to actually get out and work to maintain its own voters. That's where the Democrats have gotten lazy over the past few years.

I'd actually prefer it worked. I honestly think that Delaware, with a Democratic, Republican, Progressive, Independent, and Libertarian multi-party set-up where each party had at least some area of the state in which it had a solid base, would be a stronger, better Delaware. Compromises that are now unthinkable would be possible. Backroom deals that are now commonplace would be much more difficult. To maintain a majority in either house of the General Assembly, you would have to be advocating ideas and policies that resonated with more than one party.

This is not generally a blog that stimulates big conversations, but I'd really be interested in your ideas.

(Credit where credit is due: kavips first, almost unintentionally, gave me the idea.)

1 comment:

Pandora said...

Excellent post, as usual. I see your point... maybe you have to break something in order to fix it.