Why I Dislike Both Major Parties

One of the few things the Democrats and Republicans can agree on is measures to keep themselves in power. This includes limiting access to the ballot and making sure that the election system continues to favor the two major parties.

Thus, it’s good news that the supreme court has agreed to review the appeals court decision that has set aside the voting system in Washington state as unconstitutional (scotusblog and story on CQPolitics).

I lived in Washington in the good old days of the pre-2003 open primary system, and I truly appreciated it. Anyone could get on the initial ballot, but you were guaranteed a general election ballot with a limited number of candidates. That system was abandoned earlier as unconstitutional.

I’m not going to get into the details of constitutional law on this one, but I believe it’s a stretch to call these unconstitutional. The 9 robed ones in the other Washington get to make that decision. But from a political point of view, I believe the country would benefit from this type of system nationwide. The idea that we must choose between an abominable Republican and an obnoxious Democrat (or vice versa) is one of the causes of political apathy, not that I allow such an excuse–in a democracy all should get involved and have only themselves to blame for the result if they don’t.

I believe the problem the two parties have with this is not that someone who is not really a Republican or really a Democrat (who can tell?) might get on the ballot against the will of the party. Rather, their problem is that in the initial election everyone starts equal. There is no automatical appearance for a Democratic or Republican candidate. There is no particular benefit, except for the effort a party can make for the candidate, to being affiliated with a party.

The Washington state system solves many perceived problems of minor party participation. What about the multiplicity of parties diluting the vote so that a candidate who actually only represents a minority of the constituency can be elected? Ignoring the fact that in many cases the “hold your nose” vote probably means much the same thing, the Washington system still provides only two candidates for the general election. The legal issues may be a bit thornier, but in practical terms, I think it’s an excellent solution. Opposition by both the Democratic and Republican parties of Washtingon only makes me more certain. Anything those guys can agree on, I’m probably against!

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