This Is Your Captain

Even before I read about Zell Miller’’s Nürnberg rally keynote address, I had been feeling uneasy with my recent dismissal of the effectiveness of political activism on my part.  I have long understood that most political activists are less worried about "being effective" than serving issues of personal fulfillment ("I couldn’t stand by and do nothing.").  What I have been slow to appreciate is that I could use a little of that fulfillment myself (that I’m currently "between opportunities" has made this more apparent).

So when my Precinct Committee Officer called and asked if I would be willing to be a block captain, I said sure.  My weighty responsibilities include knocking on the doors of the 14 addresses on my list, making sure the registered voter(s) residing there understand the new-fangled primary ballot, and offering a ride (on my PCO’s behalf) to anyone who needs a ride to the polling place on Primary Election Day.  Oh, and because the list of addresses is the product of proprietary demographic research, I have to destroy it after I’’ve contacted everyone on it.

As amusing as the confusion over the new ballot is, I am more exercised over the childish indignation over the demise of Washington’s blanket primary.  Despite their undeniable compromising by corporate contributions, political parties are ultimately private organizations with the First-Amendment-guaranteed right to free assembly, including the right to control membership and candidates.  The parties accept a public subsidy in the form of state-funded primaries, but there’s no reason they have to; Washington’s parties were quite sincere when they said in their suit to ban the blanket primary that they would sooner nominate delegates and candidates via caucuses and conventions than submit to an uncontrolled primary.  In other states, voters must register as members of a particular party months before the primary election, and it is not trivial to switch registrations.  The current Washington primary rules require no such registration; partisan declaration is as anonymous as the vote itself.  Washingtonians who complain of their "freedom being taken away" should consider that—unlike voting in a general election—nominating a party’s candidate is a privilege, not a right.

No comments:

Post a Comment