Letter: Democrats need democracy

Editor, The Spotlight:

Democratic Party Committee Chair Matthew Clyne’s predictably hostile response (Spotlight 5/9/12) to the recent emergence of the Bethlehem Reform Democrats gives ample reasons for why this group is so necessary. As chair of a party with the name “democratic” in its title, he seems to be chronically allergic to attempts to get the party to live up to its name. To begin with, he accuses a group asking for transparency in decision-making as engaging in “self-promotion.” Perhaps in the world in which he operates, reform is indeed “a code word for self-promotion,” but it is precisely this world that it appears the Reform Democrats are challenging. Not leaving well enough alone, Clyne follows up his first statement with the claim that he is in the business of electing Democrats, not pursuing reform, and “anyone who is not in sync with that mission isn’t an asset to the party.” In claiming that electing Democrats is somehow opposed to “reform,” Clyne may have revealed, perhaps, a bit more than he intended—that office seeking trumps political programs. Last but not least, Clyne maintains that meetings of the Democratic Committee have to remain secret because they are devoted to tactics and strategy. Well, given that Democratic voters have three times repudiated the candidates for town supervisor who have emerged from this process and done so by rather large majorities, one might suggest that a more open Democratic committee might also provide better strategies, better tactics and better candidates. In short, it would seem with a chair who regards “democracy” as an irritant to normal business, it is remarkable that a group like Bethlehem Reform Democrats hasn’t appeared sooner.

Peter Breiner


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