Editorial: One-party dominance hinders democracy of election process democracy

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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What happened to democracy in Pittsburgh?

On November 5th, the residents of Pittsburgh will decide their next mayor. On the one — and only — hand, Democratic candidate Bill Peduto has been named the unofficial mayor of Pittsburgh. But what happened to the opposition? Better yet, what happened to the fundamental democratic election process?

As it stands, the Democratic party has held control of the mayoralty for more than seven decades. The opposition — namely, the Republican contingent — does not invest heavily in municipal elections because of the belief among leaders that it is a futile effort, resulting in the long reign Democrats have held. This trend has created a one-party favorite system in which opposing political views are systematically suppressed, contradicting the very premise of democracy.

One of the most significant tenets of democracy is the ability to deliberate. The one-party favorite system exemplifies pure inefficiency in terms of running a city where the voices of its constituents are heard because of the limited options available in terms of candidates.

The elections process is the problem. Thus, The Pitt News refuses to endorse a candidate for mayor because as it stands, the elections procedure breeds a flawed version of democracy.

Let us be clear: We are not choosing to endorse a candidate for mayor because the political views of Peduto or the Republican candidate Josh Wander conflict with the political views of our editorial board. It is not because of fundamental differences between the views of The Pitt News and the views of the candidates running. It is , however, because of the overarching issue that the current process breeds a system in which voters have little choice to align their views with a candidate because there is only one candidate.

So, how can we fix Pittsburgh’s election procedure to ensure that candidates from other parties have a significant chance at running?

One solution to advance the current system may be to propose an open primary where all party-registered voters have the ability to vote for a particular candidate, whether Democrat, Republican or Independent. Since the Democratic Primary almost always decides who the next mayor will be, Republican voters should have the opportunity to contribute to the voting.  

Another potential solution could address the campaign contribution aspect of municipal political campaigns to give way to minority candidates who have lesser opportunities than more established, more endorsed candidates.

The possibility that Peduto will be a successful mayor is apparent, but The Pitt News cannot endorse any candidate due to the detrimental flaws of the election process.


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