The conundrum of the problem we now face appears when the next election rolls around. No Trumpist can be allowed to regain power. Not in 2022, not in 2024, not ever. They will never surrender power again, so it would be senseless to ever let them have it again. Who is anti-democratic when that situation occurs? The people who know the other side won’t surrender power, or the people who know the other side doesn’t merit power, because they won’t draw blood to keep it?
In order to head off this impasse, it becomes imperative that we break the calcification off of every state we, the people, control. Here. Now. Today. What we need to head off the Trumpists at the national level is a viable third party, fourth party, fifth party, or maybe no parties at all. There is a fresh thought to contemplate. Here in the United States we only allow two parties to compete unless we want to self-destruct the entire system.
This fact was proven to me over the course of the years I spent working in the Libertarian Party. We could get on the ballot here in Texas and in most other states, but none of our candidates ever made it into office because they were hobbled by the system that requires members of the two major parties to win elections at anything above the local level. In the end, the knowledge that the candidate would be hobbled without party support at the national level, the active discrediting of candidates from outside the two party system that is present in any media coverage of election events meant that if the candidate didn’t have an R or a D in front of their name, they wouldn’t matter anyway.
It is also true that math itself defeats minor party candidates for high office. Game Theory has long established that plurality voting, winner takes all general elections between more than two candidates, yields the least favorable electoral outcomes. Game Theory essentially predicted that we would have the least favorite candidates in competition with each other at the end of the 2016 election. Does anyone doubt that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did not together represent the least favorite candidates in competition?
In Oklahoma you had to be a Republican or a Democrat to be on the ballot back when I was a libertarian. Oklahoma wasn’t the only state that so baldly proclaimed the primacy of the two major parties in the past, but they were the last holdout state that refused to concede that government endorsement of particular private parties establishes a monopoly on ideas which is a clear violation of the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In 2020 Oklahoma was finally forced to admit that the Libertarian Party was a real party, twenty years after the LP had been on the ballot in the other 49 states pretty routinely. That is the pace at which political change has moved in the past in the United States, in all fifty states. That is the first thing we have to adjust, the pace of change.
Before the next election we must take apart and reassemble the election systems in 47 states. This is the first major imperative. Only California, Louisiana, and Washington conduct jungle (blanket) primaries, and jungle primaries are how to decouple party and plurality from the results in the general election; and we have to decouple both of those things from the general election results if we want to make democratic inclusion the goal of our election process. This has to be the goal because it can’t continue to be the race to the bottom that has dominated our politics since 1980.
We have functionally hit bottom now. When the power goes off in your house and stays off for three days, and the leaders of your state aren’t even slightly embarrassed by this event occurring, don’t even think to apologize for the deaths that occurred because of their negligence, your modern government has just moved back a thousand years in history. Without electricity there is no modern civilization. Without electricity there is nothing but the means of survival left to calculate, and that doesn’t take much ability in math to achieve.
So we have hit bottom, democratically, republic-ly. If we continue the two party monopoly, the duopoly, the Trumpists will reclaim the government in less than a decade and create a hereditary dictatorship to take the place of the democracy we’ve enjoyed since we were all born. The Republicans are openly adopting the methods of the White Nationalists who dominated politics in all the years leading up to the election of Richard Nixon. When Nixon invited the Southern Democrats into the Republican party, he set the party on the course it has been on ever since. Republicans win by excluding the votes of minorities and undesirables. They do this by wielding law enforcement as a club, to turn potential voters into undesirable felons who can be excluded at the ballot box. They do this by stacking and packing, gerrymandering districts so as to render their opposition effectless.
This was done to the Democratic party in Texas more than a decade ago, and we have yet to emerge as a viable state-wide party since that time because of the gerrymandering and the division that it forces on political entities that should naturally be united. Austin is effectively without a national voice because Austin doesn’t have a set of representatives that speak for it. That is what Greg Abbott’s Republicans think of opposition to their unquestioned rule in Texas.
Presidential dictatorship has been the trend for decades, and it became obvious in the Bush vs. Clinton battles that seemed preordained from the perspective that the media took in 2016. It had to be Bush vs. Clinton in the eyes of the media because those were the two family names that were most important to politics, the two names that everyone knew. The Trumpists have now confirmed that this is where they think US politics is headed, as they continue to back their loser president even as his crimes go public, and his transparent coup attempt is revealed to be exactly what it seemed to be at the time. They think coups are fine as long as they are the ones that have power afterwards. This is a complete abandonment of everything our country has meant to ourselves and to the world at large since the founding of the United States.
Party is not family, and party shouldn’t even equate to cheering on your local sports team. Party will always be ideological, which is why party seems to be turning into religion for some people. Trumpists are overwhelmingly evangelical and salute their leader as a god-king. At CPAC this weekend, they had a golden calf made in the likeness of Donald Trump to worship right in the conference hall. These people seem incapable of understanding hypocrisy, irony, or tradition. They can’t be allowed to win an election ever again, and that means we have to break the country out of the binders that the duopoly put it in over the course of the last one hundred and twenty years, and we have to do it in less than a decade for it to be effective.
Jungle (blanket) primaries is where we have to start. Some form of the California model should be adopted in the 46 states who have yet to embrace this approach to winnowing the field of candidates, and any new states that we create over the next decade need to also embrace this approach. The top two vote getters will have, by definition, some form of a majority behind their candidacies.
Jungle primaries will break the stranglehold of there being two parties and only two parties represented in the system and the worst of those two parties coming out on top. Expanding jungle primaries will continue the process of opening the door to new ideas being able to be incorporated directly into the systems we govern with without requiring the leadership in a particular party to endorse those ideas.
What I am interested in is seeing the government act on the best ideas; and the only way to get the best ideas to rise to the top of the structure and get acted upon is to engage the wisdom of the crowd. Notice that I say best ideas and not correct ideas? Correct is subjective. Best is, or can be, objectively defined. This should not be a right/left issue or a conservative/liberal issue. This is an issue of good governance and only a fool or an authoritarian would want to make sure that the country continues to have bad governance through the enactment of bad ideas. This is why the jungle/blanket primary is the first thing we need to see established, nationally. It will take away the power that enables Trump because his ideas are demonstrably very bad and very unpopular.
Let us not abandon representative democracy and one person one vote. Not after all these decades of work that we have put into this cause. Let us continue the work that the framers phrased as creating a more perfect union.
This is the story of a political party that is right now this very moment, OPENLY rushing to pass election reform legislation in nearly every state they control, making it difficult or impossible for people of color to vote, to be actively part of this Republic.facebook.com/Stonekettle
Featured image: screencap from Khan Academy – Open primaries, closed primaries, and blanket primaries