Jeffrey Dinowitz eyed the people lined up outside a catering venue in Williamsbridge with a smile.
“This is democracy in action.”
And it certainly seemed like it last week when the Bronx Democratic County Committee gathered for its annual meeting. People were nominated, other people voted, and it was Robert’s Rules of Order from start to finish.
Yet, there were times it didn’t feel like democracy, or at least the way a democracy should feel.
Nominations for everything from committee officers to supreme court judges were obviously planned well in advance, including the very people chosen to publicly provide the nomination. Dinowitz or Stanley Schlein — or whoever was standing at the podium — didn’t even bother hiding the fact that the people they were choosing in the audience to make and second motions were chosen ahead of time. Those people would then stand up, reading from small slips of paper that were likely handed to them by someone in charge.
It’s not that the floor wasn’t open to nominations beyond what the Bronx Democratic leadership wanted. But it was clear to the hundreds of members there who had the backing of leadership, and it was hard for anyone to pick any differently.
Not that we necessarily have any issues with those who were voted in. We’re sure — or at least we hope — each and every person was properly vetted by leadership, and will fill those capacities well.
But true Democracy is where everyone gets a real voice. Where no one has to feel pressured to vote for someone because the people in power want you to vote for someone.
And to be honest, we don’t even believe the leadership was strong-arming anyone. We do feel that the leadership does its homework, look for good candidates, and then offer those candidates up to the overall committee.
But what you do, and how what you do appears to others, are two very different things. The Bronx Democratic leadership may have had no intention of pushing their nominees, but it certainly looked like it through all the scripted pomp.
In the end, it’s choice that people want — not the appearance of choice, but actual choice. And after the county party’s embarrassing showing in the recent primaries, ensuring inclusion for everyone is now more important than ever.