Just One Minute
Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Putting Principle Before Party

We are still on Torricelli, and it is always fun watching a Democrat with principle struggle with his party's total absence of same. Normally, the object of blame when the Democrats run afoul of boring old election laws is Jeb Bush. But for something new, let's amuse ourselves with Josh Marshall:

"A few days back New Jersey Republican Senate candidate Douglas Forrester called on Bob Torricelli to resign. Now Torricelli's in effect done that and Forrester says it's not fair and that no new, clean Democrat should be allowed to take his place on the ballot. He's complaining..."

Hmmm. Josh is a responsible newsie, so I have no doubt that he can produce a Forrester quote that says something like, "I want Torricelli to resign, and then I want the Democratic Party, the Democratic Governor, and the NJ Supreme Court to shred our state's election laws in order to allow the Democrats to replace him".

No, I am intrigued by something else - what are the limits to Forrester's great power? Can he successfully call on Daschle to resign? How cool would it be if Forrester could make Saddam Hussein step aside? And what kind of a December Holiday season might we expect if Forrester calls for "Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards men"? I have no doubt that you share my excitement.

Well, just a thought. Let's press on with Josh:

"...Election law -- as we saw in Florida two years ago -- is the most vexed kind of law in a democratic society since it sets such powerful interests against each other -- the rule of law and democracy. In a democratic society, the presumption in favor of putting significant questions before voters should almost always prevail. If New Jersey law is crystal clear on this point, and it specifically bars any means of putting another name on the ballot, then so be it. But if there's a legal way to do it, then it should happen.

This is the advantage Democrats do have and should have in this case. In a democratic polity, the absence of black letter law to the contrary, the interests of democracy -- having real elections -- always trump procedural squabbling."

Cheers! Democracy, ho! And just a picky aside - do minority parties have rights? Josh's flexibility on the interpretation and enforcement of election law would be much more appealing if this were not a Democrat controlled state juggling the law for the benefit of a Democrat. Surely the right of minority parties to a fair election held under pre-agreed rules is also important?

I mean, why do we close the polls at certain hours? Or have voter registration requirements? Or have people petition to put a candidate, or in California, an issue, on the ballot? Maybe we should just let the party in power tell us, hopefully before the election, what we are voting on, where to vote, who can vote, and so on. Just so the people can be heard. All these rules, and laws, and procedures seem to be such an impediment to Democracy.

Josh's big finish:

The rather shabby truth here is that Republicans understand that Forrester could only get elected in a state like New Jersey not simply if he were facing a bad candidate but essentially no candidate.

Well, the rather shabby truth is that the Republicans faced a lawfully chosen opponent, Torricelli - a bad candidate, perhaps, although the Dems didn't seem to think so a few month ago. But no candidate?

Comments: Post a Comment