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A Politics That Sound Great in Theory, Work Less Well in Practice

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I read this piece on Pittsburgh area political candidates seeking DSA endorsement with some interest.

Monday night’s endorsement gathering by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America may be most notable for what didn’t happen. After meeting for three hours in a North Side union hall, the DSA did not endorse any candidate in three contested races — including one in which Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, a prominent supporter of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, sought its support.

More than 150 people listened to eight candidates in five different state and federal races. Candidates filled out questionnaires in which responses ran as long as 20 pages and, after giving a brief speech to attendees, faced audience questions about their responses and their records. More than 100 dues-paying members cast ballots after deliberating.

But by evening’s end, the DSA only backed state House District 34 candidate Summer Lee and state House District 21 candidate Sara Innamorato, who each hope to challenge members of the Costa family next year.

You know, direct democracy sounds great and all. But why on earth would politicians do this? This is an enormous time commitment for what? How many votes can DSA move anyway? It’s one thing to have a real commitment from candidates before endorsing them. But you also have to actually make it worth their time. Maybe this is a problem with democracy. But it’s also the reality of democracy. If you want politicians’ time and energy, you have pay it out. If you are rich and can write a giant check, well, that’s a clear payoff. But where’s the payoff here?

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