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Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Elections are a serious threat to democracy!
On the November ballot in New York City will be a proposal to eliminate partisan primaries. If the proposal passes, all candidates in a district will run in a single primary election, which will be open to all voters. The top two vote-getters for each office in the primary will face off in the general election. Such a system is used in many other large cities, and it sounds like a reasonable idea to me. But not to everyone:

City Democrats have vowed to fight the plan and Brian McLaughlin, head of the 1.5 million-member city Central Labor Council, said he will convene 90 union leaders tomorrow to "spearhead an effort to challenge this serious threat to democracy." McLaughlin said he has enlisted the support of some of the city's biggest unions, including District Council 37 and Local 1199, to come out in force to reject the initiative in November.

I fail to see how the proposal is a "serious threat to democracy," and I doubt McLaughlin was asked to elaborate. How anyone can get so riled up to fight the proposal is beyond me. Well, almost beyond me - obviously, anyone with an entrenched interest in the current system is going to scream. So far, that would be political party hacks and labor union leaders. Which suggests to me that the proposal would be the best thing to happen to the city since unlimited ride MetroCards were introduced.

But what is the chance it will actually succeed at the polls? I predict slim to nil. Gotta hand it to the party hacks and union leaders - when they scream, people listen.

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