Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Little Failings of Democracy and How They Solve Problems

I tend to point sometimes at the shortfalls of democracy.  On the practical level....democracy is kinda like a 1966 Ford Mustang.  It requires some maintenance, some tender adjustments, some close observations, competent 'mechanics', and a willingness to make due when it's just not that perfect.

One of the things that few Americans ever grasp....is that we are fifty separate states....with fifty mechanisms for running each state, it's legislative process, it's election process, and it's leadership bucket of candidates for various offices.

Up in Michigan, they have this rule about running for the House of Representatives (an election which holds itself to a two-year cycle).  The rule says that you must go out and get petitions signed by folks of the state, that the petition be handled and managed by actual registered voters, and that the petition be verified to some degree by a county or district judge.  All of this leads to you being on the primary list and possibly accepted by the party apparatus of that district.

It's a process that's been in effect for several generations.

I noted this week that the current representative for the thirteenth district of Michigan....has failed in his petition drive.

Normally, it wouldn't amount to much in the news cycle, and won't dare be mentioned on CNN or Fox News.  But there's an odd thing about this episode.

John Conyers is the present Representative, and he's been in office for fifty years.  He's done the election game at least twenty-five times.  He knows precisely how the rules run....how they work to his advantage, and what can go wrong.

In this case....Conyers had a couple of people doing the petition drive business....who WERE NOT registered voters, a mandatory part of the petition drive.  I can't imagine how you'd screw up on this....having done it over and over.  Bad campaign manager?  I can only guess that it's a person who rarely handled such affairs in the past.  The problem I see....there's not just one unregistered petition handler....there's two.  With one....I could understand a minor misunderstanding.  But not with two screw-ups.

What's this lead onto?  Well....there's this deadline....coming this week.  The district names have to be certified to be on the ballot.  So, there's only three possible outcomes.  Some judge could step in and just say it was a pretty minor screw-up...so he'll allow the two petitions to stand (as is).  Everyone will grin and wink, and the judge will get a hearty thanks from behind closed doors over his willing nature to fix screw-ups.

Solution two?  Throw out the two petitions for nomination, and thus cancel John Conyers from the ballot.  This means he has to run as a write-in vote.  Odds of winning?  Probably still better than sixty-percent chance.  This is the safe approach for the judge and keeps him out of the mess created.

Solution three?  Well...I checked and there's only one Democrat who got the primary ballot petitions fixed up in time.  Strangely enough.....Horace Sheffield III, a minister from the New Destiny Christian Fellowship Church.  He's an energetic guy....at least the locals say that of the pastor.  He's got a minor problem in that he's recently (Jan) been apprehended for some domestic issue with a wife that he is divorcing (so the news media says).  Other than that.....there's nothing negative about the guy, and some folks are simply talking of him as better selection because he's a new face for the position.

For some reason, I'm of the mind that Conyers might have screwed-up on purpose....giving himself an exit formula that his sponsors and handlers couldn't handle.  Conyers is eighty-four and probably not that willing to continue on.  The trouble is....this is a district without any real contenders that sponsors would latch onto and feel good about.  A local minister?  The only guy who turned in sufficient ballots for the Democratic primary?  It just has a funny smell to it.  Maybe the pastor made a quiet plea to God for a little extra help and this was the only method for God to help the guy out.  Stranger things have happened.

So, you might want to watch the Detroit district area this week and judge how this petition things goes.  It might be kinda interesting to see the judge support the law and cancel Conyer's petitions invalid.

No comments: