EDITORIAL: Let’s Stick With Democracy

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Of late, self-styled “reformers” in Philadelphia have developed the odd conviction that elections are equivalent to corruption. For every flaw in our City’s creaky governmental machinery – and Lord knows it has its share – they come up with the same simple answer: Get the politics out of it. Insulate the people who make the decisions from the people the voters vote for.

Um … why is this a good idea again? How does it relate to the actual functioning of any given branch of government?

For sure, the quest for wealth and power can corrupt political decision-makers. However, admit it: Wealth and power are just as good at corrupting those of us who aren’t elected officials. Taking an elected Commissioner of Cats & Dogs, and making him an appointed Commissioner of Cats & Dogs, will do absolutely nothing to make him less corruptible.

In the end, appointed public officials are appointed by elected public officials. So political pressures remain. As long as we are a democracy, it is necessary that they remain.

But if we wind up, in this city, with only one big elected official – the Mayor – then it’s inevitable that really big money will work really hard to influence him; and his race will become so expensive, only really big money will matter to his campaign. Who wins and who loses then?

True government reform is a piecemeal process. It calls for detailed, task-specific study of the duties of each branch you would reform. This process doesn’t make for glib charges and snap answers, but it is the only right way to do “good government”.

What can citizens do? They can keep a sharp eye on every City official, whether elected or appointed. The more elected officials, the safer the voters are; at least they have a way to fire them directly.

Furthermore, a large pool of elected officials is a natural way to cultivate a training ground for public leadership. Philadelphia needs more leadership, not less.

Finally – citizens should cast a critical eye on those who would strip citizens of their power to vote, under the guise of “reform”. There’s an old Latin saw, cui bono – to whose good? Who gains from this move, especially when big bucks are at stake? Many a corruption, many an evil, was first sold to an unsuspecting public wrapped up in a pretty package of reform.

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3 Responses to EDITORIAL: Let’s Stick With Democracy

  1. I agree with you 100% regarding citizens keeping an eye on elected and appointed officials.

    I am co-founder of the “180th Watchdog Coalition” which our mission is to ensure that the elected officials of the 180th District represent the needs and concerns of our residents by fulfilling the promises they made to our community during their political campaigns. In order to receive the resources and services that will make a positive impact and bring meaningful changes and reform. It is our responsibility to monitor our elected officials and hold them accountable.

    Anthony P. Johnson
    July 9, 2010 at 9:48 am

  2. Only when we–the people stand-up and be heard intelligently and responsibly can we effectively hold elected officials accountable.

    Only when we–the people do more than just cast a vote but we also educate and participate in the political process can we create a government that will “truly” represent every citizen in the Republic.

    Only when we–the people prosecute Bush, Cheney and their cohorts to the fullest extent of the law, thereby sending a message to future politicians that no elected official is above the U.S. Constitution or the International Humanitarian Law i.e., the Geneva Convention can we bring balance to our society.

    Only when we–the people discontinue listening to television and radio personalities that spread their daily diatribes of fear-mongering and racist-venom can we begin to have an intellectual and rationale discussion on the differences between Democracy, Communism and Nazism, and why every religion can coexist in harmony in this vast universe.

    Only when we–the people today accept that racism and prejudice is at the root of many intractable conflicts in America and that they were born out of the dispute and/or existed before and contributed to the dispute, exaggerated beliefs about the character, and motives of other ethnicities. However, if we do not–then reconciliation will be extremely difficult to achieve for future generations.

    Anthony P. Johnson.

    Anthony P. Johnson
    July 12, 2010 at 6:55 pm

  3. I wholeheartedly agree! Let’s stick with democracy, including as it relates to choosing Judges in the Commonwealth.

    Tom McCourt
    August 13, 2010 at 6:56 am

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