THE BLOG
03/28/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Letter to New York State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs

Dear State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs,

According the Daily News, you, "said [your] goal is to avoid a primary or, short of that, make sure it is conducted 'without rancor and with as little contentiousness as possible.'"

It's a stunning state of affairs we're in when the state chairperson of the Democratic Party openly calls to avoid an essential phase of a fair election. He didn't say this in some backroom meeting in an Albany supply closet over cigars. He said it right to our faces: He desires to limit the political voice and reach of the people of the State of New York, partly for the sake of money.

It sorta smarts, doesn't it?

Well, Mr. Jacobs, as a Democrat I'd like you to know that I want a primary. I want a contentious primary at that, one which brings central issues that our state faces to our collective surface. In fact, I want two of them.

I want both of them to be bloody. I would love to see David Paterson and Andrew Cuomo go head-to-head over their policy records. I want to see Kirstin Gillibrand prove to New Yorkers that she can run a fair election on her record, and I want her to bash Harold Ford's record to prove it.

Maybe, just maybe, if they bludgeoned each other hard enough, New Yorkers would begin to pay attention to political climate around them.

Contentious, bitter elections get the electorate involved. Even in New York, where most elections tend to serve primarily as sad reminders of voter disenfranchisement, each mayoral election gives voice to dozens of new bloggers and politicos. Sometimes, as we saw in the mayoral election of 2009, even a jading and undemocratic election can inspire a blogging backlash and a surge in ground-up political volunteering that can have a lasting, long-term effect in voicing public discontent to elected officials and changing news narratives.

Yes, in the nastiest elections, we yell at each other, or write vicious diatribes about our ideological foes on the internet. News stories spawn with violent momentum all around us; we become subsumed with useless analyses and commentaries as we wait for the next breaking bulletin.

In the media-scramble of a heated election, the information we're presented with from our pols and papers is often, well, misinformation. However, it's that scramble and frenzy that's so sacred to the democratic process. For all its divisiveness, cruelty, and dishonesty, that scramble is politically inclusive and energizing. High- voltage anger and resentment can be powerful weapons for progress at the polls.

I like that energy. I miss it. We live in an environment where corrupt Albany incumbents have an astronomically high rate of re-election. More political awareness and activity from the bottom-up is a good thing, at almost any cost.

But let's be honest here: a guy like you, a Democratic Party Chairman who openly calls to stifle our political freedoms and limit the power of our democracy in the name of campaign strategy, probably doesn't lose sleep over the degree of political involvement among New Yorkers.

Let me put my concerns into your language: I don't want to see that election-frenzy I love so much pop its head up for the first time this year in the general election. By then, it might be too late.

Mr. Jacobs, don't let our crappy turn-outs fool you. Voters here like to be included too. Remember, Mike Bloomberg spent 100 million dollars to win a mayoral election by fewer than 5 points, mostly because of voter resentment toward his bought campaign. No voter likes having a candidate chosen for them.

I know you want to save money and resources, but without a primary, Democrats who feel like their candidates were basically hired without their say might feel little or no loyalty to the party come November. By openly denying voters' a real choice, you're playing with fire.

Sixty-three percent of New Yorkers want a constitutional convention to change the governmental makeup of New York State.

Do you really think this is a good time to tell us we can't pick our leadership?