The Minneapolis DFL – Democrat, Farm and Labor; Minnesota’s version of the Democrats – Party convention will convene on July 8, 2017. I’m still a bit bemused that I will attend as an alternate delegate. My career as a TV commentator began in late 1999 with a notably negative take on political conventions and I still consider that perspective to be as accurate as the mainstream story line that Party Conventions epitomize democracy. Political Parties, especially in a Two Party System, stifle democracy by forcing candidates to bow to Party power and require Party resources. Candidates vying for endorsement or nomination campaign to the Party, not the electorate at large. The gap between these varies among candidates. I favor those that conduct a seamless campaign, even as I realize that the choice is difficult. If I had my way, the 2 Party Tyranny would be history and candidates would run as individual human beings. If we must have Parties, let’s have more rather than fewer. If we must have endorsing conventions, it is best that the delegates not be Party insiders, power brokers, or parrots.
Ranked Choice Voting shifted the electoral paradigm in Minneapolis almost a decade ago and continues to devalue the DFL Mayoral endorsement at convention. My personal motivation to become a delegate to the DFL City Convention is to activate the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) by repealing and replacing 8 of the 9 Commissioners. The MPRB races (and most City Council races) differ from the race for Mayor in at least two important ways, there are fewer candidates and far less media attention, i.e. free advertising. Both of these reinforce the power of the Party. When the goal is to change the MPRB, the DFL City Convention is a pretty good place to work toward it. As for the Mayoral endorsement? I fail to see a good reason why I should endorse anyone. Nothing against any candidate. In fact, I think there are at least 3 people that would be a more effective Mayor than the incumbent. I want to keep their campaigns viable as long as possible heading toward November. In a One Party town, that means redistributing the power of Ruling Party. Basically, I am putting my City and all the beings that live here with me, before my distrust of political Party. You are welcome.
In 2017 Minneapolis has been blessed with a bevy of level-headed candidates for Mayor. It is highly unlikely that a large number of those failing to win DFL endorsement will simply step aside and sit down, at least for free or without favors. There is too much ambition and privilege at work. Don’t get me wrong. I think this is a fine situation. Think of the campaign as a waiting room full of candidates. They are waiting to be invited into the Office, but there are other doors, too. Some lead to Party Rooms and easier access to Office. Some lead to controversy, organization, and the exit. I think you can fill in the rest of the analogy if you think about what they do while they wait, who else is in the room, and consider who opens the doors. The more voices in the waiting room, the better chance we have of getting a Mayor that understands – and will take action on – the issues that are important to people in every neighborhood in Minneapolis.
There are two ways to deal with political Parties. Revolution or Dissolution. I’m with the revolution crowd because I want to shift our governments to the Left and the Progressive faction is likely to do so. Far less likely, especially if the Progressives take over the bloated, money-hungry Democratic Party, is dissolution of the Party’s grip on power and authority. I’m not questioning the authenticity, intent, or honesty of Progressive Democrats. I’m underscoring the overarching power of the Two Party system that has survived, perhaps thrived, in the wake of political realignments throughout US history. I aim to disperse the political authority of the mainstream Parties, even as I help use it to support the progressive candidates for MPRB. That’s what I call, Pragmatic Anarchy. Use the authority of the Party to subvert the power structure that maintains the Party. The Mayor’s race is an opportunity to disperse the authority of the DFL by denying any endorsement. Supporters of particular candidates for Mayor are welcome to try and sway me, but it will not be easy. No worries, MPRB candidates, I’m with you on the Minority Report and endorsements for Progressive Parks.
I understand that some hardcore Party pushers may take exception to a delegate or alternate to the convention that identifies as a “Democrat” primarily to gain access to caucuses and conventions, while “true” Democrats stay at home or take their leisure. I’m just playing the cards you dealt to me. I did not construct the Two Party System. I do not have the resources or following to start my own Party. I sure don’t have the temperament to run for office. Personally, I think we’d be better off if we filled political seats the same way we seat juries – by chance. Let the people vote on policies, projects, and programs, instead of merely elevating people into leadership positions and hoping they follow through. The appointed legislatures, councils, and congresses would be tasked with researching issues and informing the people so that we could make good choices. The appointed executives, governors, and mayors would be tasked with implementing the will of the people. It is democratic because we all have a voice and we all have a chance to become the authority. But that is not how it works here and now. The massive Party structures and the ultra-luxurious price of political power block my direct access to authority. Here and now I have to choose a Party if I hope to make my voice heard. So, its the DFL for me. Tomorrow I will be a Democrat.