Letter: Don't lose respect

Don't lose respect

Editor of the Reformer:

I am a Bernie supporter, and I was impressed with the passion expressed in a recent letter ("Democratic Party isn't democratic," Mar. 10). However, I have a different view of the issue.

First, the party did not change its rules after Bernie became a candidate. Bernie knew the rules of the party before he announced. He seems to accept them, since, to my knowledge, he has not expressed any discontent. Only some of his supporters seem to be upset with the rules. I am not one of them.

Second, there are two traditions of democracy in American history, the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian. The Jeffersonian holds that government should be by an elite group of patriots who act in the public interest. This group is to be composed of those with the ability, experience, and moral character to be accepted by their peers as leaders. This view is expressed when someone says: "I vote for the best man for the job." It is also expressed in our Declaration of Independence by the words: "... Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ...," which means that an elite group will develop and take to the electorate for approval the goals and policies of government. The Jacksonian view holds that the average man is capable of governing and that government should be by a representative sample of the electorate who does what the people want, after negotiation and compromise. This is populism. Most framers of our Constitution held the Jeffersonian view, witness, for example, the Electoral College and the selection of senators by state legislators. Nevertheless, Jacksonian democracy has become more influential as America progressed, as shown by the direct election of senators and lowering the voting age to 18.

Third, the Democratic Party's nomination process incorporates both views, which I believe to be a good thing. It provides for primary elections or caucuses and for proportional representation of electoral results in awarding delegates. It also provides for super delegates, who are more experienced in politics and government than the average voter and must, I believe, bring to the process a view that is helpful. (The framers viewed the Senate as a check on a House that, being closer to the people, might be swayed by the passions of the moment.)

Finally, I suspect that, if Bernie goes to the convention with a majority of votes cast, most, if not all, of the super delegates will vote for him. So, I would ask the voter not to lose respect for the Democratic Party and its nomination process.

Tom Bertone, East Dummerston, March 14


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