Donald Trump said that elections are rigged. And he was right. He still is.
But, for all his “drain the swamp” rhetoric, there is a major area of institutional corruption that he and his “Democratic” foes are in perfect partnership: rigging elections so voters only have two meaningful choices.
If we were talking about the business of elections, and elections are a multi-billion dollar industry, it goes without saying that the Republican and Democratic Parties have colluded closely for so many years that the voters who participate in our elections, the reporters that cover them, and the candidates that run in them almost universally accept this absurd reality: our “democracy” almost always comes down to a choice between an unpopular Democrat and an unpopular Republican.
But beyond the noise of the latest sexual assault scandal, almost half of the American electorate has turned independent, not wanting to be forced into a bed with either major party.
Non-binary, I suppose.
But time and time again, whether it's Trump v. Clinton or Jones v. Moore, the system is setup to produce a binary outcome.
Fixing a rigged system can’t be done by getting third party or independent candidates elected alone. Any third party or independent that can overcome institutional barriers and win an election is impressive – but that won’t solve the systemic barriers that prevent real competition.
We need to focus on the rules of the game which have been written, literally, by Republican and Democratic Party politicians and operatives to make sure they are the only two meaningful choices at the ballot box.
But, there are efforts to unrig the system -- and a number have been successful. Since the media has become as partisan as the parties themselves, here are a few things you might not be aware of:
- The Commission on Presidential Debates is a partnership between the Republican and Democratic Parties. That’s the real reason we haven’t seen a third voice on the debate stage since Ross Perot. There’s a lawsuit right now that, if successful, would change presidential debates forever.
- From New Mexico to Maine, voters are passing “Ranked Choice Voting” at the local and statewide levels, which allows voters to choose multiple candidates so they aren’t forced into choosing between the “lesser of two evils.” BUT, as in New Mexico and Maine, the politicians that control the legislatures and the courtrooms are trying to stop the voter-centric election reform from being implemented.
- In Washington state and California, voters have stripped the Republican and Democratic Parties of their taxpayer-funded private primary system altogether. In those states, voters and candidates, regardless of party, participate in the primary just the same as every Democratic and Republican voter. Try as they might, the two major parties exhausted their legal attempts to overturn the nonpartisan system, and now more independent-minded leaders and legislation are slowly emerging.
- Independent candidates are rising in states like Alaska, Kansas, Colorado, and Maine. Unlike in previous years, it appears that these campaigns will be better financed with much greater levels of support. Will a new nonpartisan coalition provide the resources for independent victories?
But there is so much more to do.
Political parties have special campaign finance laws that allow them to aggregate donations in support of their chosen candidate. They can spend limitless dollars on “member communications” that ensure party loyalists get to the polls.
And the two major parties are private organizations, so when a bloc of voters take either party to court for corruption, their cases won’t even be heard.
Just ask Bernie Sanders supporters.
Imagine a system where a candidate didn’t have to be the most hardline liberal Democrat or unyielding conservative Republican to win a primary. Imagine a general election with candidates that view the ability to work with those with whom they disagree with as a virtue rather than a weakness. And imagine an election where you vote for someone, instead of against the other.
There are plenty of ways to unrig the system. And the parties won’t tell you about them.
As the world focuses on Jones v. Moore. Let’s get to work protecting the People v. the Duopoly.