Gerald Friedman: Goldstein-Rose disappoints with decision to leave party

  • seb_ra

Published: 3/1/2018 7:50:53 PM
Goldstein-Rose disappoints with decision to leave party

I read with disappointment about Solomon Goldstein-Rose’s decision to leave the Democratic Party (“Amherst representative quits party,” Feb. 21).

While I share his frustration with the Legislature’s failure to enact a progressive agenda, and with the extreme partisanship that paralyzes our political process, his response hurts his constituents, is generally disrespectful of all those who participated in the last election, and is counterproductive for all of that he and I want to achieve through government and politics.

It is old news that the institutional structure of American elections, our first past the post-election system combined with an independent executive, means that we have a two-party system, and will unless we move to some other electoral system, such as proportional representation.

Yes, we have flash-in-the-pan third parties, such as the Populists, but these fade like spring snow when voters realize that they risk electing the greater-of-two-evils if they vote for someone other than the lesser-of-two-evils among the two major parties (Think of Ralph Nader in Florida).

Yes, there was one exception, the Republicans in 1856, but remember that they were never a third party because they emerged after the collapse of the Whigs and of northern Democracy in the wake of the fugitive slave law and the Kansas-Nebraska bill.

This does not mean that one has to toe the party line. As Eugene McCarthy showed in 1968 or Bernie Sanders showed again in 2016, it is possible to conduct effective outsider and insurgent politics within the two parties. But effective politics is only possible within the two parties. Anything else is a temper tantrum.

Two-party dominance of the electoral process means that there is two-party dominance of legislatures and government in general. One can act within, tolerating the frustrations of losing many battles to win small gains; or one can stand on the outside and throw rocks.

Goldstein-Rose’s decision to leave the Democrats means that that is what he will be doing, which leaves his constituents effectively disfranchised. He can no longer effectively represent our interests, and we in Amherst are very dependent on the state not only for action on climate change and health care, but for our daily bread.

We in Amherst voted for Solomon Goldstein-Rose as a Democrat, a member of one of the two major parties. Maybe there are people who would have voted for him as an independent. I certainly would not have. It behooves him now to resign and test whether this is the representation we want.

He should feel free to run again, but do it as what he now is — an ineffectual independent.

Gerald Friedman

Amherst


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