The Independent Voter Project is making a difference in opening up the electoral process to independents. IVP co-chair and former state senator Steve Peace was recently interviewed by Brandi Powell, reporting for NBC San Diego, because of his admonition to the two parties to stop endorsing candidates so early in the primary process.
Brandi leads into the segment by saying:
"Former state senator, Steve Peace says when political parties endorse candidates before all hats are in the ring, it forces potential candidates out of the race."
But it's not even about making endorsements "before all hats are in the ring," which would mean the end of the filing process for primary candidates. The problem is far worse than that. It's about making endorsements before anyone even has a chance to throw their hats in the ring. It's about making endorsements before the filing period for primary candidates even begins. As Peace correctly argues in the interview:
"To make the endorsements before the filing period even opens, let alone is closed, is a little squirrelly... at a minimum, those endorsements should include a disclaimer in which the public is informed that the endorsement is made before the period of time in which all the candidates were known."
At a minimum, the parties should refrain from making such unreasonably early endorsements. Party chairs will argue that early endorsements are okay, but they do a lot of harm to the electoral process. Early endorsements are impractical because the party doesn't even know what all of its choices are, so how can it make an educated endorsement? They help the party to select establishment favorites before the primary has even begun, pushing out other potential candidates and actively discouraging them from getting into the race. Parties do this to save money for the general runoff election in November, but the result is a less dynamic process that produces doctrinaire partisans, not engaged citizens interested in solving problems.
The Independent Voter Project is committed to getting everyday Americans involved in politics, engaged in the electoral process, and willing to run for public office to solve problems with a fresh, post-partisan perspective. It believes a dynamic, competitive primary process where all voices are heard and all citizens-- including independents-- have equal access and a fair shot at winning will help us put the partisanship of the past behind us and allow voters to focus on individual people, their principles, and their proposed policy solutions. But the behavior of both party establishments seems to run contrary to this goal. They seem more interested in rigging the election before it even starts than hearing out all the candidates and giving them each a fair chance to appeal to voters.
It shouldn't be up to a few people in partisan hierarchies to decide which candidates win primaries or get to participate in them without being shut out before they even begin. That's not what real democracy looks like. It should be up to voters to decide which candidates win primaries. Personally speaking, I predict that continued attempts by party establishments to control the outcome of primaries from beginning to end will backfire due to the rapidly growing anti-establishment sentiment across the political spectrum.
Voters will see these "pre-endorsements" for what they are and resent the party hierarchy's attempt to dictate results to them. Instead of helping the candidates that they endorse so early on, the parties will only hurt their chances. Pre-endorsements will become a liability to establishment picks and be used against them by their grassroots opponents. It isn't about left vs. right anymore. It's about the establishment vs. you, and more and more voters are starting to really believe that.