For Democratic leaders, it’s time to pick a side and stand by it

Eighteen months after the campaign for their nomination started, Democrats around the country and the state are starting to get antsy.

  • Wednesday, May 14, 2008 12:00am
  • Opinion

Eighteen months after the campaign for their nomination started, Democrats around the country and the state are starting to get antsy.

Since Sen. Barack Obama’s runaway victory in the North Carolina primary and Sen. Hillary Clinton’s inability to run away with the Indiana vote, even the punidtry and talking heads that dominate editorial pages and Sunday morning talk shows have started discussing the end game for the Democrats.

Two weeks ago, for example, Washington State Democratic Party Chairman Dan Pelz issued a statement urging the state’s “superdelegates” to pick sides and help end what is becoming a bloody battle between titans.

“It’s time for us to end this,” Pelz told the New York Daily News following Clinton’s win in the Pennsylvanian primary. “The candidates are tearing each other apart, and it’s not good for the party. I think we need to have a candidate.”

However, in true Washingtonian fashion, Pelz himself refuses to pick a side, responding to a reporter’s question this way:

“He does not think it’s fair for the chair of the state party to take sides while we’re still in the progress of choosing delegates.”

Actually, Pelz had a spokesperson issue that statement, rather than actually responding to the reporter himself.

But that sounds about right to me and helps to explain why we can’t seem to get anything even remotely controversial or difficult passed in this state: Our leadership is scared to take a stand for fear of it either being unpopular or turning out to be wrong. Instead they punt everything back to the voters.

I suppose it is understandable to want to wait before declaring your loyalty to a candidate. After all, aligning oneself with one candidate can potentially have political repercussions.

Decided earlier?

But one would have to think that each of the Washington state superdelegates – made up of elected officials and party leaders – cast a ballot in the Washington Democratic Caucus back in February. Surely they made a decision then and isn’t their role as both voters and superdelegates to pick the candidate they think can best do the job?

For whom did you vote on Feb. 22, Mr. Pelz? Then isn’t that candidate your choice?

Since last week, superdelegates from around the country have started finally falling into place. Most finally seem convinced that Obama has secured the vast majority of pledged delegates (through votes and caucuses), though the Washington undecideds – including the party chairman who is urging them to make a decision – are not among the names finally picking sides.

And as it has been pointed out, superdelegates can change their mind any times, so unlike the Kentucky Derby (in which Hillary compared herself to, Eight Bells, the filly that raced hard, but came in second to Big Brown and then had to be euthanized on the track), it’s OK to switch up your bet at the finish line.

But then again, in my time in Washington, this seems to be a chronic problem. Leaders in this state continually find new and unusual ways to punt, to get out of making decisions.

Few officials in this state want to stick their neck out on any kind of controversial issue.

We elect people to make those hard choices. Please make them. If we don’t likethem, we’ll let you know in November. That’s how the system is supposed to work.

So please, we’re finally almost done with this thing for the year, please Mr. Pelz, stop telling your people to pick a side and pick one yourself.

You are in a leadership position, please lead.

Brian Beckley can be reached at 253-826-3260, ext. 5052, or brian.beckley@sumnerreporter.com.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Why should the threat to Taiwan concern us in WA? | Brunell

Unfortunately, what happens in Taiwan doesn’t just stay in Taiwan — it… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Election 2021: Closer look at King County races | Roegner

The race for Mayor of Seattle will dominate the regional media, but… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Questions surround vaccine exemptions for state workers | Roegner

With about 4,800 state employees in 24 agencies requesting vaccine exemptions, which… Continue reading

Dr. Jayendrina Singha Ray serves as Faculty of English at Highline College. Her research interests include postcolonial studies, spatial literary studies, British literature, and rhetoric and composition. Prior to teaching in the U.S., she worked as an editor with Routledge and taught English at colleges in India.
What the Afghan wants to say: Arezo’s journey to America | Guest column

In our little Zoom room, I hear my interviewee break into sobs.… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Can a Texas-style abortion law happen in Washington? | Roegner

If politicians really want to anger women voters, the easiest way is… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Reasons to ban Gov. Jay Inslee’s natural gas ban | Brunell

Column: Switching from natural gas to electricity is complicated and will impact everyone.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Vaccinations improve our health and employment numbers | Brunell

It is not surprising that COVID-19, which ravaged the world, was disastrous… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Firefighters vs. the governor’s vaccine mandate | Roegner

We all thought we were in this fight with the coronavirus together,… Continue reading

Providence employees look at anti-vaccine mandate protesters as they cross the street outside of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Aug. 18, 2021. Olivia Vanni/Sound Publishing
Editorial: A message to the unvaccinated and unmasked

We know you’re frustrated with mandates and advice, but consider our frustrations and, yes, our anger.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Back to the classroom during abnormal times | Roegner

If it didn’t feel so normal, we might forget about the coronavirus… Continue reading

9/11 Memorial in Cashmere, Washington. Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
Twenty years after tragedy brought us together | Guest column

Recently, I was reflecting on where I was and what I was… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Next year’s elections are already underway | Roegner

The 2021 session of the Washington State Legislature was dominated by the… Continue reading