Getting Rid of the Political Party System

27May10

I have this idea in my head of a book that I want to write.  It will be about how the US political party system is antiquated and no longer necessary.  It appears that California agrees with me, based on Proposition 14, to be voted on in June and as described in the New York Times.

On June 8, voters will decide the fate of a ballot measure that would replace traditional primaries in state and Congressional elections with, effectively, two rounds of voting. All candidates would run in the first round, and the top two vote-getters — regardless of party affiliation, or unaffiliation — would then face each other in the general election. Voters’ ultimate choice could be two Republicans or two Democrats, or two candidates with high name recognition, or deep pockets, or populist appeal.

This is exactly what more states (especially Rhode Island!) need.  Far too often, lazy or uneducated voters will simply say “Oh I will never vote for anyone who is a [fill in the party label here]”.  That makes no sense to me.  Why not?  The problem is many people think that all Democrats are the same and all Republicans are the same.  There couldn’t be anything further from the truth.  There are very conservative Democrats and very liberal Republicans.  Anyone think George W Bush was a fiscal conservative?  When people say things like they’d never vote for someone in another party, it means that they’re too lazy to take the time to learn about each candidate.  Many (more than 70,000 in RI’s last gubernatorial election) are content to just pull the straight-ticket lever.

In my town, the candidates for Town Council and up run affiliated with a political party, but those running for school committee do not.  It makes no sense to me why the Town Council needs to run with a party affiliation.  Why not make the voters figure out who the best candidates are and vote accordingly?

But back to California and the New York Times, of course the political parties are opposed, even though individual candidates and politicians are in favor.

“There is zero evidence to suggest the initiative would have the results its proponents claim,” said Ron Nehring, the chairman of the California Republican Party. “We firmly believe that initiative will limit choice.”

What?!?  Limit choice?  Quite the opposite.  Now people have a total choice, regardless of whether they’re affiliated with a party.  Consider the situation in Rhode Island.  Many elections are determined by the primary, because there are often only candidates running from one party.  So some of the voters, by virtue of their decision to affiliate with a party, don’t get a say in voting in some races.  A change like California’s will make that different.

John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party, said he feared nefarious intentions were behind the measure. “It allows one party to play in another party’s primary, ” he said, “and cause mischief. ”

I’m sure he means indirectly, since there would no longer be party primaries.  I guess I really don’t understand the fear from these people.  Are they admitting that they put out bad candidates, but just by virtue of a label, they win?

Also as mentioned in the article, this will favor more centrist candidates, which is a good thing.  There are more centrist voters in most states than fringe voters on both sides.  So why would that be a bad thing?  Sometimes what we get from the primaries is a far-right conservative and a far-left liberal from the Democrats and then the voters are left having to choose the lesser of two evils.  Why not just let the best candidates for more of the people get through the system?

I hope Proposition 14 passes in California, as then it will hopefully make its way into more states around the country and force voters to smarten up.

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