Democrats

To endorse or not to endorse - that is the question, or is it?

 The 2016 elections were extraordinary in many respects, like most
 Democrats (small or large D) I'd like to put the political memories
 from that year in the trash basket and start again in 2018 - but
 stronger because we have learnt from the hard lessons of 2016.
 
 The Democratic primary process from that year has led a number of
 people to question the fairness of the process of party endorsements
 and also whether it leads to stronger/better candidates for the Fall
 elections - or just those candidates with the most money and/or better
 party political connections! A valid question for all those interested
 in democracy.
 
 So first I thought it best to detail the current process before
 addressing those concerns reference above.
 
 1. Candidates attend municipal Democratic party committee meetings
 and other forums so the Democratic party voters get an opportunity to
 form their own opinion.
 2. Each Democratic Party precinct potentially has two Democratic
 Party committee people. Registered Democrats who reside in these
 precincts can choose to run in the May primary to become a Democratic
 Party committee person - if elected they hold this position for 4
 years before a fresh election is held. If a committee position is not
 filled by election, someone can be nominated by the Municipal chair
 and appointed by the county chair. (If we have a full slate of
 committee people, the total count would be 600+).
 3. Currently 400+ Committee people (from the 54 municipalities in
 Bucks County) and State Committee/Elected officials who reside in
 Bucks County vote on candidate endorsement on Feb 24th (date may
 change due to redistricting). Each person gets one vote and it's open
 ballot.
 4. A candidate requires 60% or more votes to be endorsed.
 5. If no one reaches the 60% threshold, then no endorsement will take
 place prior to the primaries.
 6. If there's an endorsed candidate, the other candidates can still
 stay on the primary ballot provided all required paperwork has been
 filed with the appropriate agency, only the endorsed candidate will be
 on the "goldenrod".
 7. Primary is May 15, 2018.
 8. Once the primary is held the winner of the primary becomes the de
 facto Democratic Party endorsed candidate.
 
 This process - unadulterated by interference from outside of the
 democratic party and the county - should enable the Bucks County
 Democratic Party to make a reasoned recommendation (endorsement) to
 the primary electorate which candidate is the better/stronger one. Not
 everyone has the time or inclination to personally vet the primary
 candidates - and if they do then they will make their own informed
 decision regardless of any advice or endorsement from the Democratic
 Party.

If the field is very balanced then the primary will probably take
place without an endorsed candidate and of course the winner of the
 primary is de facto the endorsed candidate. Early endorsement by the
Party requires a clear majority support amongst the committee and
county party officials, however if the voters disagree and decided on
a different candidate for the November election then the Party throws
 their full support behind that candidate from May 16th onwards.
 
 I believe this process offers help to primary voters; early
 endorsement can only happen with strong support across the party base.
 With the power of social media today, failing to gain an early
 endorsement would not impede a candidate from getting their message
 across to the primary electorate.
 
 There have been quite a lot of social media posts recently arguing
 against party endorsements before the primary election. While I
 understand the appeal of letting primary voters decided without early
 use of the endorsement process this in essence amplifies the voice of
 activists over the voice of the less well informed voter who looks to
 the party for their advice and guidance. I believe a democratic
 process, as outlined above, that allows early endorsement adds to the
 overall value of the primary process by being more inclusive of all
 registered democrats - not just the activists. All candidates can
 solicit their votes regardless of endorsements, and for a healthy
 democracy we need to encourage everyone to vote, whether they support
 an endorsed candidate or not.
 
 I'd love to hear your comments ........

Malcolm Burgess

Buckingham Democrats/Treasurer