Bossism Versus Extremism

Gottheimer protest in Glen Rock

An insider tried to figure out the implications of a judge’s coming ruling on “the line” amid bullhorn-toting progressives pushing conditions of a new normal that bothered party establishment types. For years, Democrats jeered at Tea Party and MAGA types threatening to capsize the GOP. Now, in the words of a resigned Democratic Party player, “This is our Tea Party”, in reference to Andy Kim’s challenge to the line in New Jersey.

A Republican member of the same ruling establishment in New Jersey shook his head, only party in bemusement.

New Jersey has its share of problems, but “just wait till we abolish the lines and organizations can no longer regulate who runs for office. We’ll look like some of these other states whose delegations are packed with crazies.

“As I see it, the corrupt bosses in New Jersey are hardly perfect, and can even be horrific,” the source added, “but it comes down to those bosses versus the extremism in both parties.” And extremism is killing the country, he noted, pointing to the prescience of The Federalist Papers, which cautioned against factionalism, and insisted on structures protecting people from what Tocqueville called “the tyranny of the majority.” From the late Prof. Alan Rosenthal to former ELEC Chief Jeff Brindle, many experts point to the very foundations of representative democracy to make a case for reinforcing – not deteriorating – party organizations.

Maybe New Jersey shouldn’t redesign the ballots away from the line, but reform how party organizations run conventions, forbidding, for example, organizations from exercising a single leader’s vote in place of an entire committee. Certainly, the state should examine the efficacy of requiring secret ballots, to avoid the potential for abuse among party chairs too close to – or too personally dependent on – the most powerful governorship in the country in New Jersey. Or reform the nature of lobbying and patronage in the state as they pertain to party organization. Or cracking down on nepotism.

Would there be anything left after that?

Surely, there wouldn’t be a New Jersey.

Maybe a second Vermont.

Perhaps fearful of such a result, another insider griped that the leaders of the party, complacent perhaps in the rolls of fat formed by lobbying and other professional interests, appeared unwilling or unable to vigorously make the case for a system incorrectly dubbed ignominious and now apparently hanging by a thread in a federal courtroom, courtesy of the little known – and politically ambitious (but then who isn’t) – Congressman Kim. “Don’t f*cking throw the baby out with the bath water,” the source groused.

InsiderNJ consulted another source, who specifically cited the bridge-too-far atmosphere, generated by decades of loathsome public behavior, appearing to have finally come to a head with the preposterous crackup of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

“I guess another way to look to at it,” the source said, “is Phil Murphy exploited the worst things about New Jersey politics – buying the line and support in his first run. And he bought some loyalty along with that. But it’s clearly not transferable. So, you try to replicate it – with a lot of the same strategy [for First Lady Tammy Murphy] and it just falls flat.

“But – while people rolled their eyes in 2017, and a good portion of the way – now it’s not eye rolling, but fist-shaking, and finally, punches getting thrown. So, Menendez being the most visible example of machine-propped corrupt absurdity, and then go back to Murphys buying the line, and then well before that – imagine if the current circumstances and conversations were happening in earnest in 2005, when [Jon] Corzine [another Wall Street brand like Murphy] – was out-money balling [then-sitting Governor Dick] Codey.

“So, I don’t know – did the whole construct of state politics as it has existed for decades – or for the sake of argument, the past 20 years, and all the abuse and nonsense – did it inevitably lead to this point in time? The line in court, the ultimate test. Or is it just standard campaign sniping, serious issues to be sure, but just people getting a bit rowdy at a particular moment in time? Is it a real inflection point, or just a temporal irritation.”

The Legislature appeared ready for the judge’s decision – presumably next week – in a big, not little, way.

“As leaders,” a bipartisan group of Trenton leaders wrote last night, “we have a demonstrated record of working in a bipartisan way on issues regarding voting rights and the transparency of counting ballots, and we are prepared to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure public trust in a transparent and democratic process in New Jersey.

“We are committed to beginning a public process on ballot design in New Jersey, including a thorough and thoughtful review of other states, as well as a process that involves input from the public.”

If controlled by bosses, all or some of them, they sounded sober, even reasonable, not like cretins of extremism. That said, one reader cracked in reaction to this post: “Missed headline opportunity… Group that almost brought us OPRA ‘Reform’ promises to bring us Ballot ‘Reform’.”

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14 responses to “Bossism Versus Extremism”

  1. To say Andy Kim is an extremist is so far from the truth it is hardly worthy of a response. What is more American than to trust the people to make their own decisions about things, especially as regards to who their representatives in Congress will be. To want a democratic republic is totally in line with fundamental American values. To want an autocracy where plutocrats decide what’s best for us is so dictatorial—such “bossism” at its worse can even lead to fascism and dictatorship. I sometimes question if Mrs. Murphy isn’t under the covers with MAGA. Andy Kim is clearly the superior candidate.

  2. I guess 65% of New Jersey voters across the political spectrum are extremists then based on Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll’s finding in Nov 22! The question asked was whether voter opposed the practice of county party using special positioning on the ballot to enhance their candidates’ chance to win.

  3. The party used the line for their own power, accruing money and favors in return for support. This corruption cannot be tolerated. Those screaming about losing it are only concerned about losing the rewards they receive from supporting it.

  4. Calling Andy Kim “little known”, a three term Congressman who made national headlines with his pic of cleaning the Capitol on 1/6, whose suit he wore that day being on display at the Smithsonian, who is a proven 3 time winner of difficult races, is exactly why the line must go. Their actual “demonstrative record” is of lying and crafting the narrative to keep their power. Now their so-called “bipartisan agreement” to reform the line is yet another “nothing to see here” tactic to sway public opinion. Hope the court sees through this facade.

  5. If the bosses are really worried about extremism, we could go all in and shift to a jungle primary where everyone runs, everyone votes including the 1/3 of NJ registered voters who are unaffiliated and top 4 go to a general with RCV .

    That would generate real competitive primaries and candidates who have to appeal to everyone, not just the tin foil tea party types or the state worker unions

  6. So many bad takes this is laughable. Comparing Andy supporters to the Tea Party is so ridiculous that I’m sure whatever “insider” uttered the words will be forever grateful to not have their name assigned with it.

  7. The Tea Party was funded and created by the Koch brothers. Max Pizzaro has no idea what he’s even talking about. Why on earth does Insider NJ even print his utter nonsense?

  8. I’ve been a County Committee Member since 1970.
    In order to be on the County Committee you must file a petition signed by a certain number of voters of your party in your voting district. This happens every 2 years. Every voting district has 2 county committee members who represent the voters of their party and district..
    The County Committee allows the county committee member to have a vote at the convention on who gets nominated and receives the County Party line.
    As a Committee member (who is elected by fellow Party Members in their voting district ) they should be aware of what the party voter is looking for in candidates. I believe that it’s a fair system the way it is and should be left alone.
    The problem happens when the County Party Executive Committee tries to endorse without a convention and vote of the elected county committee members.

  9. The author should check his sources. “courtesy of the little known – and politically ambitious”??? Exactly how little known and politically ambitions is Tammy? A totally unknown wife of a very powerful governor, running for Senate with no electoral credibility seems to describe the authors tripe. By-the-way, pumping cred by being a committee person since 1970 illustrates exactly why the “boss” system demands changing. After all, Russian Serfdom prevailed for years, as did slavery in the US – tradition provides its own chains on the people who are not the “bosses”

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