Lost In The Jungle

I have voted in every election since 1974. I have voted for Democrats. I have voted for Republicans. I have voted for third parties and I have voted for candidates with no political affiliation. My current voting status is no party preference, since I cannot register as an independent. (The American Independent Party is a right wing party started by Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1968.)

I prefer to think of myself as a “Groucho Marxist”, which has more to do with Grouchoism that Marxism. Groucho said he would never join a club that would have him as a member. I feel the same way about political parties.

Having no such ties gives me a sense of independence. I am not bound to automatically favor anyone or any position. Sometimes I like conservative ideas. Sometimes I like liberal ideas.

But there are times when I don’t care for the extremes that both sides employ to achieve their goals. That’s when I will likely vote for a third party candidate as a protest. I know that candidate has absolutely no chance of winning, but at least I can vote for him or her without holding my nose.

Now that California has limited our choices to two on the November ballot, those options are no longer available. Even worse, sometimes we only get to choose from one party. The lesser of one evil, depending on your party’s prejudice.

Both partie’s leaders opposed the so-called “jungle primary” when it was on the ballot. It was sold as a remedy to extremism. If you had to choose between a moderate and a radical of the same party, it was believed that enough voters from the rejected party would naturally vote for the moderate candidate and there would be less gridlock in Sacramento and Washington. This year’s senate race seems to bear that out. The incumbent Dianne Feinstein failed to receive her own party’s endorsement over the insurgent Kevin DeLeon.

However, many Republican and third party voters have no interest in voting for Democrat or Democrat Lite. In the last same party senate race between Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, almost two million voters left that category blank, and a PPIC poll taken in July of this year says 20% of likely voters, 47% of Republican voters and 24% of independent voters will opt to do the same come November 6.

If we are going to tinker with our voting system, I would rather go with an “instant run-off” option, where voters are allowed a second choice on the ballot. If your first choice doesn’t garner a winning majority, you can still state a preference for another candidate and eliminate the need for yet another costly election.

The current system discourages participation. Is it worth attempting to coerce voters into voting for candidates they don’t care for in the name of moderation? Shouldn’t the parties have to live with their ideologies, for better or for worse? Should we be able to vote our conscience rather than someone else’s party preference?

I’ll vote for freedom of choice any day.

(This opinion appeared in The Union on October 2, 2018.)

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12 Responses to Lost In The Jungle

  1. Michael Anderson says:

    This looks like the same cluster that pitted Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. That strategic failure rewarded us with President Donald Trump.

    The Ralph Nader disaster in 2000 gave us George Bush: 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Great Recession. Another strategic failure.

    Dear American People, you have a crappy federal political system, which is increasingly becoming the laughing stock of the First World.

    I agree with you Bob, the Top Two system should be replaced with Instant Run-Off. But the tweaks shouldn’t end there. We have a lot of catching up to do, our systems are leaving us in the lurch and our politicians, from both the Democratic and Republican parties, seem to be unable to stop the free fall.

    Help!

  2. Chris Peterson says:

    If I understand your opinions, then I disagree with both of you.

    Trump is the ultimate second choice candidate, as a near-majority were protesting the choice of business-as-usual and he was anything but. They weren’t voting FOR Trump, they were voting against Clinton and the other 16 Republican candidates. And Steve Bannon is exactly right when he says that, had Bernie gone more of the same populist route, like Trump, he would have walked away with the Presidency. (Of course, that would assume a little less cheating on behalf of Clinton and the DNC.)

    And if your vote is merely a protest against the choices given, then there’s no difference between not voting, voting for a known loser, writing in a name, or picking a second choice on the same ballot. The big difference being that Trump supporters made their decision early in the contest, rather than waiting until they were in the voting booth, to register their protest.

    The charade of populism, combined with nationalism, is Trumpism defined. The old school Republicans may be taking full advantage of it, but make no mistake, so are the very forces that grow ever fatter upon our backs; Trump being, in reality, one of them. The miracle to me is the overwhelming redneck support for the ultimate city slicker grifter; a diametrically opposed but happy-as-a-clam coalition.

    Put that coal sludge in your water and drink it.

    • Michael Anderson says:

      Bernie would never have been elected president. Trump would have won by a much wider margin if BS was the Democratic candidate.
      People vote for their own self-interest, it’s as simple as that. The people who voted for Trump voted for their own self-interest, whether it was in support of an end to abortion, or tax cuts, or more money to the military, or sticking it the “libtard” voters who they feel diminish them as human beings.
      A majority of the American electorate voted for Hillary Clinton and Al Gore. The only other countries that use an electoral college system other than the US are Burundi, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu.
      Our federal political system will eventually experience CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) unless something changes.

      • Chris Peterson says:

        I would submit that the scenario of your CFIT already happened and that the pilot was none other than Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the controls of the DNC’s Eastern flight 401 and Clinton was the $12 light bulb.
        Notwithstanding your personal opinion, the consensus is that Sanders, who was the true populist of the 2016 campaign and not the city slicker huckster parading as such, would have waxed Trump in a head to head contest. But, thanks for playing today’s round of Change the Historical Narrative.

        https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/358599-sanders-wouldve-beat-trump-in-2016-just-ask-trump-pollsters

        • Steve Frisch says:

          I would caution against considering an article in The Hill using Tony Fabrizio as its main quoted source as “the consensus”of pollsters. Respectfully, that is Tony Fabrizio’s ‘personal opinion.’

          Bernie Sanders has enjoyed wider polling popularity for two very good reasons.

          First, the Clinton campaign never deconstructed Bernie’s record, effectiveness in Congress and policy proposals during the primaries. I know people in the Clinton campaign and have had this discussion with them; they soft peddled the differences between Sanders and Clinton policy because they knew that if they won the nomination they would need the Sanders supporters in the fall. As the presumed front runner Clinton needed to court Sanders voters; as the challenger, Sanders did not need to court Clinton voters, he needed to depose the front runner, thus he was free to press a more pointed message.

          Second, Republicans never strongly critiqued Sanders because they reveled in his challenge to Clinton due to its weakening effect on her campaign and never seriously thought Sanders could get the nomination. Republicans never went after Sanders “Democratic Socialist” moniker and separate polling shows attaching the word “socialist” to a candidate in the US is less popular than attaching the word “atheist,” particularly in the very midwestern states where Clinton eventually narrowly lost. In short the Republican machine never went after Sanders and he benefited from that in head to head polls comparing Clinton v Trump and Sanders V Trump.

          Sanders essentially got a pass during the primaries from both the Clinton campaign and from the Republicans.

          • rl crabb says:

            Agreed. The Republicans would have nailed Sanders to the sickle and hammer during the general election. Despite what many of my friends believe, the majority of Americans are not ready to jump on the socialist bandwagon.

          • Chris Peterson says:

            “… the majority of Americans are not ready to jump on the socialist bandwagon.”

            Seriously, Bob? I would say that the majority of Americans don’t understand that they’re already on the socialist bandwagon. Unless, of course, you’re one of those who makes the argument that it’s more of a mandatory allotment from our individual capitalist reserves. (lol)
            What we call the “commons” is definite proof of our democratic-socialist society. Capitalism means private ownership of business and investment, but here in America we tax ourselves, *collectively*, to build infrastructure, military, fire, and police protection, etc. That is socialism in one of its many political and economic forms.
            The fact that many, erroneously, claim that we’re not ready for socialism is like the ultimate inside joke.
            We… are the government.
            We…tax ourselves, collectively.
            We…use that money to accomplish agreed upon goals.
            Capitalism…is every man for himself and could never have built anything near resembling what we have accomplished *collectively*. Unfettered capitalism is actually responsible for what could be the demise of human existence; climate change.
            But we are getting ever-closer to the capitalist dream of once again having private toll roads, waterways, schools, and all other forms of social interaction.
            But, if you’re correct, and this is an individual, pay-as-you-go, society we have here, then I should pay less for services than you, since I have paid more in taxes than you, over my lifetime. That would be proof of your theory of a more capitalist republic, and that sounds more like Todd-talk than either of us could stomach.

          • RL CRABB says:

            I’ve always maintained that we live in a capitalist/socialist hybrid. It’s a matter of degree. Do you really want every aspect of your life dependent on what Government (the majority) decides for you? We’re not there yet, but the trend is heading in that direction.
            Americans are a fickle bunch. People say they want single payer healthcare, but when they find out that it will substantially raise their taxes they scream bloody murder.

          • Chris Peterson says:

            Hybrid? Agreed.
            Matter of degree? Yep, and getting worse. (Inequality.) I’d say the capitalists are winning that battle, at the moment.
            And Government, (the majority)? Not at the present. The guy who nominated Kavanaugh wasn’t elected by the majority and the Senators who voted to confirm his appointment represent far fewer citizens than those who opposed him. Every day, issues are being rolled back against the will of the majority. So, I would argue that, at least for the moment, it’s the minority that making decisions for me.
            And folks who complain of higher taxes to pay for Medicare for all fail to account for the elimination of all other health care costs, which are substantially more.
            As an independent progressive, I don’t want anyone making any decisions for me, outside of those laws we all agree to so we can live safely together. The rest, “Ain’t nobody’s business but my own.”
            It’s been a nice conversation. Thank you.

  3. RL CRABB says:

    Thanks for the advice, Chris, but I’d still rather make my own choices on the ballot rather than a particular party telling me who they think I should vote for.
    Once you have total control of the government, it becomes easier to keep stacking the deck in your favor… https://calmatters.org/articles/commentary/legislature-would-change-election-outcomes-with-new-rules/?utm_source=CALmatters+Newsletter&utm_campaign=6048c6bc8f-WHATMATTERS_NEWSLETTER&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_faa7be558d-6048c6bc8f-150181761

    • Chris Peterson says:

      I’ll give you my opinion from time to time, but I’ll never give you any advice. Likewise, I will never limit anyone’s choices. Nor, as a free-thinking independent, will I ever limit my own. Hopefully, what happens politically in California, stays in California.

      Be well, my friend.

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