The broken candidate selection process

Yesterday, Passaic County Superior Court Judge Robert Passero heard arguments from Freeholder candidate Sami Merhi concerning the betrayal of the Passaic County Democratic Committee and Merhi's right to be on the ballot. The Judge was fair and sympathetic throughout, despite ultimately rejecting Merhi's argument.

The success of the proceedings though, was the Judge's ORDER that John Currie and his attorneys produce a copy of the organization's bylaws by 4 pm on Friday. The Judge indicated that the same lack of documentation has affected the Republican Party as well, which is more than clear to myself and other Republicans who have had to listen time and time again to Peter Murphy/Mike Mecca cronies attempt to silence their opposition by quoting from the always-invisible bylaws.

The candidate selection process is broken. Merhi's case proves that. The man is jumping through political hoops and going to court, and the organization of which he is a member cannot even provide the written rules by which it selected and later de-selected him. It is shameful.

The process is too much of an intra-party insider game which lacks transparency, and almost totally excludes the grassroots. Consider that during the proceedings, Albert "Al" Buglione, the Passaic County Democrats' lawyer, actually asserted that Democratic County Chairman John Currie alone, and not the Passaic County Democratic Committee, endorses candidates! He then backed off this rather disturbing admission of autocracy.

A true "democracy", or rule by the people, would never permit the ridiculous version of musical chairs that the Passaic County Democrats have been playing with respect to their nominated candidates. Grassroots idealogues need to learn more about the behind-the-scenes machinations of the self-interested, often corrupt party organizations at the County level, so that they can demand intra-party accountability and ultimately, better government.

While I did find Judge Passero quite impressive and objective, I do have one small critique worthy of mention. After praising Merhi and indicating that he saw no evidence that Merhi was not a fine upstanding citizen, he mentioned that Merhi sought to represent constituents of "Arab nationality" and "Muslim nationality".

I do take umbrage with both terms. First of all, Merhi is running for office in Passaic County, New Jersey, in the United States of America. American is the only nationality that matters here. Indeed, many members of the Arab-American community, like myself, remain very proud of and attached to our heritage but hold only 1 nationality and citizenship: USA. Secondly, Muslim is a religious classification (which by the way does not apply to Merhi because he belongs to the Druze faith), and does not describe a nationality in any way.

Of course, I do sincerely compliment the Judge on calling attention to Merhi's attempts to advocate for Arab-American and Muslim communities. It is important and appreciated that a Superior Court Judge in Passaic County, on the record in a court of law, addresses these relevant factors, even if his terminology was slightly flawed.


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