There is a transparent effort to amend California’s new non-partisan open primary system, “Proposition 14.” This is the system that eliminated partisan-based primaries: all candidates and all voters, one single ballot.
The goal of the amendment effort is to undermine the proposition’s standing in the Supreme Court, so that the litigants — who are losing — can confuse the issues.
Mr. Richard Winger, who has lead many of the unsuccessful legal challenges, recently published an article whereby he derided the new non-partisan system and called for a “blanket primary system.” But, what he failed to address is the practical and unequivocal success the new system has had for non-partisan candidates and independent voters.
Both independent and minor party candidates fared better under Proposition 14 than they did in the old system. In fact, according to Ballotpedia, California went from one of the least competitive states to having the most competitive elections in the country in a single election cycle.
Mr. Winger insists on defining success as “participating in the November election,” rather than winning or losing. Proposition 14 dramatically lowered the barriers to ballot access for minor party and independent candidates, equalizing the playing field for the first time in California’s history.
Proposition 14 backers would support any additional changes that would lower barriers even further for minor party and independent candidates. Mr. Winger’s view, however, is not conducive to a promoting a more equitable system where such candidates can actually win
Mr. Winger wants candidates from every party on general election ballots. The argument is pure, but the practical result creates more partisanship.
In fact, the “blanket primary” system Mr. Winger is calling for is precisely the system that the Democrats and Republicans manipulate all across the country to shut out independent-thinking voters. It IS the system that is responsible for our polarized politics.
Proposition 14 makes politicians responsible to the entire electorate, not a narrow partisan fringe. Mr. Winger’s legal challenges, just like many third party candidates, are secretly funded by Major Party interests (the law firm representing Mr. Winger includes a high level Democratic Party official).
Mr. Winger is entitled to his view, but his public comments and legal challenges continue to obscure an agenda that either intentionally or naively plays into the hands of the duopoly that paralyzes American politics.