political commentary

Reform the primaries

Let 300,000,000 political parties bloom.
by T. Nelson

political commentary

Reform the primaries

I work 40-50 hours a week trying to put food on my family (as G.W. Bush once put it).

And it's not easy. They keep brushing it off, saying things like, “stop doing that!” But it means I don't have time to get involved in local politics or run out into the street and steal big-screen TVs demonstrate.

I understand that campaigning is expensive. But we don't really have a democracy if we can't select our candidates. I have lived in six different states, voted in the primaries in each, and not once has my vote ever meant anything. The candidate has always been selected well in advance. My candidates always dropped out before I got a chance to vote for them. Result: two weak Republican candidates in a row and the world going up in flames.

Clippy on voting ballot
Clippy assisting a write-in voter

The primaries should be held in every state simultaneously. Why do New Hampshire and Iowa get to pick our candidates? If the party picks a candidate I don't like, we could have a choice between Tweedledemocrat and Tweedlerepublican. If we get an establishment candidate like Bush or Christie this time, I may be tempted to click on “None of the above”—not because they're bad, necessarily, but because they were selected for us by somebody else.

This time around the Republicans have some of the best candidates ever. But reforms are needed. Only Democrats should be allowed to vote in the Democrat primary and only Republicans in the Republican one. That one should be obvious.

What we really need is some way to replace the two-party system. Right now, when one party becomes unresponsive to the voters, the alternative is two decades in the wilderness. We can't afford that. Everyone always assumes the system we've got is the best in the world—but look at the result. The two-party system is too inflexible. We need to find a way to change that.

My solution: eliminate the political parties altogether, at least from the ballots. Most other countries have multiple parties and a parliamentary system. America can do better: we can have 300,000,000 political parties. Let three hundred million parties bloom.

Unfortunately, we still have the electoral system, which automatically creates two political parties. Changing to a popular-vote system, as the Democrats want, won't change that. Some other solution, like a parliamentary system, is needed.

Write-in ballot 2016
Old-fashioned write-in ballot for 2016

Multiple-choice ballots should be abolished. There should be no names on the ballots: voters should have to enter whatever name they like. If voters don't know who the candidates are, they shouldn't be able to vote for them. If I decide that Rin Tin Tin would be the best candidate, even though he's (a) dead, (b) French, and (c) a dog, I should be able to vote for him.

Right now, we have candidates like: “Vote for one for County Commissioner: Susan W. Jones-Smith (D), Robert W. Smith-Jones (D), Harry W. Johnson (R), Chuck W. Flem (R), W. Moon Batterson (I).” I suspect few voters have ever heard of any of the candidates, and that many select their choice based on how much they like the candidate's name.

The only problem with write-ins is they put people with names like Wawrzyniec W. Wojciechowski at a disadvantage. But we have the technology. For these candidates, there is always Clippy.

apr 10, 2015, updated apr 11, 2015

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