California Proposition 14: Open Primaries for Independent Voters is Pro-Democracy

By Nancy Hanks | Related entries in News

IndependentVoting.org attorney Harry Kresky’s piece today on HuffPo Words Matter: Voters to Get Fair Wording of California Open Primary Initiative is a gem.

The assertion of such a right by the parties raises a fundamental question about the nature of our democracy. Does it rest on the rights of voters or on the rights of parties? On one level the answer is simple. The Constitution makes no mention of political parties. The Bill of Rights speaks of the “rights of the people,” not of the parties. After all, it is the people who organize the parties, so how could the rights of the parties they organize trump theirs?

We face a very serious challenge in this country every day. We can move forward, or we can stay stuck. And “stuck” in this 21st Century global post-modern world means going backwards.

In the very early days of our American revolution, soon after the independent forces won, George Washington warned us about the “baneful effects of party”.

We need a second American Revolution that frees us from the yoke of partisanship.
-NH
The Hankster


This entry was posted on Thursday, March 18th, 2010 and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “California Proposition 14: Open Primaries for Independent Voters is Pro-Democracy”

  1. JD Angel News » How is there a superdelegate from Marquette University who’s 21? Says:

    [...] Donklephant » Blog Archive » California Proposition 14: Open … [...]

  2. Jeff S. Says:

    I agree that open primaries are good for the system. Propositions and initiatives, however, are another matter.

    As far as parties go, I think those who disagree with our two-party system should be quite happy with the current state of affairs, especiallly when studying the decrease of political-party influence over the past 75 years. More people than ever before claim to be independent, and there are many indications that that number is growing.

    But as far as doing away with the party system–that is a pipe dream. There will always be political parties because strength-in-numbers is what works in a democracy.

  3. grognard Says:

    I’m split on this, on the one hand people of like minds should be allowed to associate [form political parties] without anyone on the outside interfering. If independents formed a political party they would be ticked off if activists from either side were to highjack the party by being able to nominate one of their own to run for office. On the other hand the two parties have so rigged the system with gerrymandering that forming a third party is that is politically viable is near impossible. One of the best ideas for reform is to limit the number of vectors for a district, to make it more difficult to gerrymander and start eliminating the “safe” districts from both parties.

  4. wj Says:

    grognard, in case you hadn’t heard, California is already acting to address the gerrymander issue. A Redistricting Commission will start work at the end of this year to draw the new legislative boundaries. The application process is going forward now. There are restrictions on membership:
    - you cannot have held elective office for a long time (maybe ever, I don’t recall exactly).
    - you cannot have worked for a holder of elective office
    - you cannot have been a lobbyist
    - you cannot have made a large donation to a political campaign
    In short, you cannot have any vested interest, beyond wanting competitive elections, in the results of the electoral process.

    So overall, the prospects for something like a functional state government (not starting, unfortunately, until after the 2012 elections) look much improved. Assuming, of course, the commission does a good job. And the concern you have on one side about a rigged system are perhaps less critical.

    The nice thing about this is that it addresses the real problem with the current political system. We tried term limits some time ago. But that was merely taking on a symptom, rather than the cause — politicians staying in office forever because they are running in “safe” districts. This time, we look to be trying something that might actually work.

    Full disclosure: I’ve got an application in to be on the Commission myself.

  5. kranky kritter Says:

    As far as parties go, I think those who disagree with our two-party system should be quite happy with the current state of affairs, especiallly when studying the decrease of political-party influence over the past 75 years. More people than ever before claim to be independent, and there are many indications that that number is growing.

    What’s there to be happy about? Even though fewer and fewer Americans identifies with either party, the parties retain their overwhelming dominance of the government. There are only a handful of elected independents in congress, for example. And that’s the problem that makes me unhappy…that the system has evolved to preserve and protect the status quo of 2-party dominance despite the alienation of the people from the parties.

    The parties have managed to insulate themselves from the people, and we don’t like that. Nor should we.

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