I’m looking at my primary ballots. Montana has an extremely civilized method of conducting primary elections without forcing people to register with one questionable party or the other. It’s nice – in South Dakota, the most fervent Democrat I knew had been registered as a Republican for 40 years, just so he could vote in the primaries. Here, in the privacy of my own home, I can pick the party I want, send it in, and never have to publicly endorse either party.
My Democratic Party ballot includes the names of only three democrats – Monica Tranel, Tom Winter, and Cora Neumann. They are democrats – Tranel lives in Missoula, Winter in Polson, and Neumann in Bozo. In short, there are no Lincoln County democrats on the ballot in Lincoln County. And I don’t have any particular preference for the other 3 – though wikipedia says Monica was an Olympic rower. I’m not sure that overcomes the achievement of becoming an attorney. I can think of a couple good reasons to keep attorneys out of the places where laws are made. Similar arguments go for the clergy.
I’ve checked the telephone book, and found no evidence of Alferd Packer in Lincoln County – but if memory serves (and it does) the 1883 sentencing quote seems relevant: “Alferd Packer, stand up you son of a bitch. There were seven democrats in Hinsdale County, and you, you voracious man-eating son of a bitch, you ate five of them. I sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead. You republican cannibal. I would sentence you to hell itself but the statutes do not permit it.” (You can check Alferd Packer out on line – I’m writing from memory because I’d rather print the legend – the actual sentence may have been a bit milder) Here’s Alferd’s picture:
So I look at the empty democratic primary ballot, with the thought that it is difficult to have a two-party system if one party doesn’t show up. What societal trends have occurred that the metaphysical ghost of Alferd Packer has his imprint on our ballots? Heck – Alferd left 2 democrats in Hinsdale County – the closest democrat on our ballot is in Polson.
The ballots show only a single choice in partisan candidates for local political offices. If I want to make that choice, I can vote for either Brian Teske or Stuart Crismore to fill the blank spot as county commissioner from Libby. Doubtless, both fine men. Have to be. It’s the only spot on the ballot where we actually have an election. The other candidates will move unopposed into the offices in November.
We need to stop Alferd Packer’s ghost. Encourage your local democrats to come out of the closet. I can remember one brave democrat at the county fair, trying to sell me a raffle ticket, with the argument, “Your side has been in power and caused all these problems. You should at least kick a dollar into helping us.” I asked “Who are the libertarians who have been in power?” and he left. I’m thinking that I should have kicked a couple dollars in just to encourage the dems to come out into the open – that blank ballot does show the death of a two-party system . . . and history gives me plenty of examples of single party systems.
Let’s be kind to our local democrats, and see if we can stop the ghost of Alferd Packer from roving around Lincoln County.