Yesterday, I finally remembered to fill out my new voter registration form I needed to send in now that I live in a new city. I came to the point where I was asked to fill in my political party. I stopped to think about it for a good, long time.
You see, here in California, the voters took an understandable but still incorrect tactic to try and break the eternal logjam between Democrats and Republicans in our state and local governments. In June 2010, they approved Proposition 14 which dictates that the state will now have “top two” primaries. In short, this means that, in our June primary elections, all of the candidates for any particular office will be lumped together regardless of party. Then, the two people receiving the most votes will face each other in the following November’s general election…yes, even if it is two Democrats or two Republicans running against one another.
The idea is that this will bring more moderates to the California State Legislature as well as the executive offices including the governor. The unseen consequence is that it has absolutely killed any ability a third party might have to influence the electoral process.
I am well aware that no third party has a chance to win a major election, even in supposedly nutty California (which, outside of cities like Berkeley, is actually far less radical than people are led to believe). However, even though relegated to the sidelines due to both voter choice and underhanded scheming on the part of both Democrats and Republicans (the one bipartisan effort that can always be counted upon), third parties still serve a great purpose in influencing elections either by bringing forward previously ignored issues or simply to register a protest vote against one’s usually-preferred major party.
It should also be a matter of fairness in what is supposed to be a free and open election process. Yet, despite only occasional success by very unusual candidates such as Jesse Ventura winning the governorship in Minnesota, the Democrats and Republicans get scared shitless that somebody from the Green Party or Libertarian Party might get elected. In fact, a Green did once make it into the California State Assembly (Audie Bock who won in a very weird special election) and the Democrats and Republicans gleefully worked together to make sure that she was rendered ineffective while in office and would not get reelected (although she admittedly did much on her own strategy-wise to ensure her defeat).
Without the ability to have a general election be one voice for each of California’s six long-running political parties, those looking for support for Green, Libertarian, Peace & Freedom, and American Independent candidates will have multiple Democratic and Republican voices — and, most importantly, money — crushing whatever good they might do for the process. Admittedly, the good might be nothing but making sure the public realizes that some of these third-party ideas are bat-shit crazy. Still, this is America where we were all taught that everybody should be heard from the hood-wearing fascist to the fist-pumping communist. Sadly, it is our two major parties that use the political tactics of those totalitarian systems in order to shut-out other viewpoints.
I find it a sad day to finally have it directly in my face that I will have no choice in every November’s general election but to vote for the lesser of two evils. I haven’t always “thrown away my vote” as people always say when finding out somebody voted for a third party candidate, but I like to have the option.
“Who did you register with,” you ask? Well, it was a hard choice between three options. I immediately threw out two because the American Independent Party is veiled Nazism and the Peace & Freedom Party is out-and-out communism. That left me the non-mainstream choices of being an independent, a Libertarian (a.k.a. Republicans that secretly smoke pot), or a Green (a.k.a. Democrats that openly smoke pot).
I really thought strongly about registering as an independent since party affiliation no longer matters in California other than who sends me junk mail through the primary election season. However, I decided against it since I want to protest this poor and possibly unconstitutional “top two” system.
I certainly gave the Libertarians a great deal of consideration. Their message of sticking with the U.S. Constitution and truly respecting personal liberties of all types is extremely appealing. However, until they show me how regular people will be able to realistically fight large corporate powers that might encroach upon their property and/or health, I just look at Libertarians as basically being anarchists in suits.
That left the Green Party. Now, understand that, even though I chose to be a Green, it is more as a protest than an endorsement and I do not promise to vote for all or even any Green candidates in future elections. I must admit that, after having been out in the wilderness in the wake of the last Ralph Nader campaign for President, the Greens (at least in California) offered a very common-sense slate of candidates in the Golden State for the 2010 election. Thus, I was impressed because nobody was proposing any radical and truly socialist programs with which I strongly disagreed that the party’s last few sets of candidates had been offering.
Will the Green Party keep me on and not force me to change my official political allegiance whenever I have the thought to drop into my local post office and get another voter registration form? It’s hard to say especially since the Greens have often not been able to properly organize a one-man run to a two-holer shithouse (which they claim is intentional and I claim is utterly fucking stupid). If they keep bringing forth people to be on the ballot that have common sense and respect for the beliefs of others, I will probably stay on. If they go back to being closer to the Peace & Freedom crowd, I’ll have to look again at registering as a Libertarian or an independent.
Still, it doesn’t really matter other than I want to make my small protest in wanting to have the freedom to choose somebody else besides a Democrat or Republican in a general election. I don’t think that’s much to ask especially in light of what is happening in Egypt and other places in the Arab world right now. How ironic that they are finally getting more choice in their leaders while Californians get less.