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Peace: Top-Two Primary About Voter Rights, Not Political Parties

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Long-time Democratic flak and personal friend, Bob Mulholland, unleashed one of his patented partisan diatribes on Monday in his on-going effort to breathe life into closed partisan primaries.

Like many deeply involved in partisan politics, Bob’s agenda depends upon winning plurality elections, preferably in low turnout environments. California’s nonpartisan system requires candidates to win a majority vote in the November election when the most people vote.

The 2014 election has already demonstrated Open Primary’s capacity to produce competition where none existed before.
Steve Peace, co-founder of the Independent Voter Project
The system has already produced dividends in the form of a more productive legislature and a governor that has been able to function free from the threat of partisan insider political retribution.

And, the 2014 election has already demonstrated Open Primary’s capacity to produce competition where none existed before.

The most obvious example is the fact that Republican Congressman Tom McClintock will, for the first time in his career, have to defend his record with Democrats and independent voters in a November face off against someone who could actually win — a Republican — in the heavily Republican district.

This gives, for the first time ever, a meaningful vote in a congressional election to Democrats and independents in this district. It is the same enfranchisement first enjoyed by Republicans and independents in November 2012 when Democrat Eric Swalwell upset an entrenched incumbent Democrat in a Bay Area seat.

Bob has always had a penchant for reckless name-calling — as a Democrat I was sometimes the beneficiary of his bombastic and almost always inaccurate attacks on my political opponents. Bob is the attack dog Democrats use when they fear they might lose on the facts.

So, Bob goes personal on me in an effort to tarnish Prop 14. Some facts:

  1. Closed taxpayer funded primaries violate that right by compelling every citizen to join a private political party in order to gain a meaningful vote.
  2. it will take many election cycles to unwind the destructive consequences of that behavior.
  3. All of the political parties will ultimately become stronger and more relevant to real people under systems that protect every voter’s right to a meaningful vote.
  4. Low voter turnout is a consequence of long-term partisan behavior (plus the destructive practical consequence of permanent absentee balloting).

Ensuring every citizen the right to a meaningful vote is a great deal more important that either Bob or I. Its fate will not rise or fall on whether you can successfully misrepresent history regarding my involvement in California’s energy crisis or anything else. But, the truth of the energy crisis does have a happy connection to open primaries. Bob knows the truth, but chose to repeat the myth.

The Truth:

  1. I did a poor job of convincing the press, the regulators, and the politicians of the truth … that the energy crisis was being driven by Enron and its allies.
  2. Enron did a great job of pulling the wool over the eyes of all three groups.
  3. Telling the truth is not always popular.
  4. I sleep well knowing that my political career ended telling the truth, regardless of the consequences.
  5. Nonpartisan open primaries make folks like Bob who make a living off of distorting truth, exaggerating differences, and demeaning compromise, less powerful.

Bob will still have a voice, but like Mr. McClintock, he will be less likely to be rewarded by shrill partisan oversimplifications.

At its essence, the nonpartisan open primary system simply aligns our political system with the changes that have already occurred in our society. Younger voters simply gain information differently than our generation did. They prefer that information not be passed through partisan filters. They prefer to think for themselves.

Bob may not like it, but this change is inevitable. The two major political parties still wield the power in this country. They may fight to protect the rigged system that got them there to the death. It is not in the country’s interest or even in the self-interest of the Parties to do this. But, that is what power often does.

The open primary makes (Republicans and Democrats) work harder … and they don’t like that.
Steve Peace, co-founder of the Independent Voter Project
The partisan system has turned off millions of voters. It will take many years to rebuild the credibility that was squandered by Democrats and Republicans working side by side in courtrooms and in state legislatures.

Bob compares campaigns to a horse race. A horse race is just about who wins not what kind of governance you get when the race is done.

But even on pure political terms, California’s reformed nonpartisan electoral system allows any candidate of any background to compete on equal terms, but more importantly, it ensures that the race is won by a majority vote when the most people vote. The old partisan closed system elected and re-elected nags that could never have survived an open race.

Democrats and Republicans have become accustomed to electing nags. The open primary makes them work harder … and they don’t like that.

The fastest growing groups of voters, in California and in America, are those choosing not to join a political party. They should not be forced to join our Party or any other private organization in order to get a meaningful vote.

There should be one and only one requirement to gain that right: citizenship.

 

Bob wrote on Capital Weekly (Read HERE):

“On Saturday, California Chrome faced 10 other horses in an attempt to win the Triple Crown for the first time since Affirmed won it in 1978. Unfortunately, he tied for 4th place.

On November 4, 2014 in all the partisan races, California voters will see only 2 “horses”, and in many of them the 2 horses will be from the same stable (Democrat or Republican), despite California having 7 recognized political parties…

I guess Peace & Maldonado could argue that if the Belmont Stakes had only 2 horses in the race, California Chrome would have at least come in second. We don’t have horse races with just 2 horses and California should not have only 2 candidates in partisan races.”

Photo Credit: Tupungato / shutterstock.com

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