Politics 101: Defusing Trumpism? Jungle Primaries

facebook

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

The Two Party System

On the Dan Carlin Facebook group, a former moderator of the old BBS posted this little tidbit of a text string:

The real issue is not to that trump and Biden are the same, it’s that their differences don’t matter.

If you lived in Gaul or Hispania or Bythnia or Alexandria, The correct answer to Marius or Sulla is neither.

The corruption on display by Biden and Trump cannot be fixed by Your Guy.

Disempower DC. Let Oregon be a progressive. Let Mississippi be conservative.

It is the only hope to prevent the violence that will not be worth it, even if you win.

nmoore63, The Ponderous Right-Winger

We go way back, Nick and I, as if in saying “way back” you mean quiet but firmly militant enforced tolerance of disparate beliefs that are violently at odds under the surface. Kind of like the various ethnic groups kept together under the pressure of a dictatorship, now released to tell each other what they really think. Of course, I had to respond to this tasty bit of bait.

The belief that Biden is corrupt is where nmoore63 stumbles into the bullshit. There is no proof, none whatsoever, that Biden is corrupt. Even if there was, he hasn’t been a tax cheat all of his adult life and Trump has. He hasn’t defrauded his contractors since the 1980’s and Trump has. Joe Biden isn’t a racist, and Trump is. Joe Biden isn’t a populist, and Trump is.

Trump wants to be Marius or Sulla, a Caesar or Tsar, except Donald Trump doesn’t have the balls to do the work. Joe Biden isn’t even trying to be a dictator, so making that comparison with him is pointless.

The list of differences is nearly infinite. I have zero patience for people who want to pretend that Biden is the same as Trump or that the Democrats are the same as the Republicans. They aren’t. The similarities between Democrats and Republicans ends at the point where the parties have both inserted themselves into the framework of the country and shouldn’t be there. After that point, their goals diverge, as is demonstrated on a daily basis.

Republicans want to keep voter turnouts low, because that is what has worked for the oligarchy in the past, and they are the oligarchs that profited from discouraging voter turnout in days gone by. Over and over the points add up and the Republicans are the ones who are responsible for most of the problems today, because they took on those problems when they invited the Dixiecrats into their fold.

In four years the story may well be different. But as long as the Republican party remains the racist, fascist creation of Donald Trump, I will be a Democrat. The problem is Trump and his supporters, not the Democrats and the rest of the human race. If you don’t understand this point by now, you probably never will.

Facebook

I get it. I really do. You think that the states can go it alone if we only let them have a free-er hand. That is your anarchist beliefs talking. Anarchism is a dysfunction of the mental processes, it is not (not) a philosophy. If it was a philosophy there would be more to it than just believing you should be free to do as you please. The Zero-Aggression Principle (ZAP) or whatever your particular flavor of anarchism amounts to is not a philosophy. It isn’t a philosophy because aggression among humans is unavoidable.

In the end, when words fail, it comes to force. Anyone (anyone) who has lived long enough to raise their own children knows this fact. If they deny it, they are lying to themselves and to you. You doubt this? Your child is running towards the street and oncoming traffic. Do you stop them before they get run over? If so, you have used force to get your way. You have aggressed against your child. So much for anarchism. So much for the ZAP, it was zapped by parental concern. As it should have been.

So here you are, willing to use force to get your way, and you want me to believe that you won’t use it to get your way in most other situations where you think you’re right. You’ll use force, if that is what it comes to. This is human nature, and I’ve had a lot to say about the subject of human nature in my many years of blogging.

When this country (the United States) started there had never been any government quite like it before in history. There was Greece and it’s Athenian direct democracy, and then Rome and it’s vaunted (but largely powerless) Senate. But there hadn’t been a new government formed that was based solely on the words written on parchment.

A solid majority of the people who migrated here were aware of parliaments, but those nations they came from had kings and other forms of nobility that held the power. The American colonies were the first to fall to the new ideas of the enlightenment, followed closely by a few other countries that were remarkable in their spectacular failures more than they were remarkable in their successes.

The ideas of faction were nascent then. Poorly understood, loosely equated with the political parties of the time and a thing that the founders of the United States wrote about in the most ominous tones. But even they fell into factions shortly after the first election that gave us George Washington. Factions that were firmly in place by the time that Thomas Jefferson unseated John Adams and became the third president of the United States.

Faction, it turns out, is unavoidable. But that doesn’t mean that we have to encode factions into the body politic. We don’t have to suffer them dictating policy on the whim of their supporters, reversing from election to election. We can remove them from the system, just like has been done in California, the only state that has so far done the work that needs to be done to divorce government from factional infighting.

How is this done, you ask? Jungle primaries and representative districts that are drawn by a non-partisan commission. That is how it was done in California and it will work in every state in the United States if the people of those states would agree that was what they wanted. So we take over the Democrats, because the Republicans are already off on a fool’s errand of vanishing returns, and then we make the system sound by passing state legislation that ends gerrymandering, institutes jungle primaries and mandates public financing for all elections.

With those measures in place every dollar that gets into a representatives hands from outside the government will be criminal and prosecutable. Their parties will be largely irrelevant aside from the issues the party represents. Whoever best represents an area will be the representative because there won’t be a corrupting influence involved in drawing the districts. It’s a long haul, but we can do it. We can do it forty-nine times (or fifty-one, or a hundred and fifty-one) if that is what it takes, because we, the Democrats, will have the majority. We will have the majority and we will maintain the majority for as long as the Republicans continue to pursue a vanishing, white, evangelical electorate.

For Republicans to win in the nation these efforts will create, they will have to actually change. There is little chance of conservatives ever embracing that liberal notion.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

It is the easiest thing in the world to belittle the weak, and the Texas Democratic party has been almost catatonic since J.J. Jake Pickle and Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Democratic force fell by the wayside. Texas Democrats had a brief resurgence in the 80’s and 90’s with Ann Richards as governor and with the Clinton’s in the White House; but truthfully, the Texas Democratic party of old died with Jake Pickle at about the turn of the century.

Which is probably a good thing, because the way the Democrats used to do business is mirrored in the way that the Texas Republicans currently do business. Gerrymandering. Stuffing ballot boxes. The outright purchase of votes and candidates by the wealthy class.

Media pundits know who holds the power now. It’s evident in every broadcast you listen to, every telecast you watch or any article you read. Oh, sure, they pay lip service to the notion that the Democrats are due for a comeback; but the corporate media, the corporation, that most feudal of all still existing human social structures, they make their money ass-kissing the powerful, just as their forebears did to kings and sultans, czars and sheiks. They ass-kiss the Republican party because the Republican party has shown their willingness to engage in a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence by letting a known money launderer and populist dictator wannabe take the reigns of power in the US.

As an example, here is the darling of the liberal press, NPR’s weekly politics podcast, talking about the first in the country primaries in Texas this Tuesday,

MARCH 7, 2018 Takeaways From Texas, As Midterms Kick Off

Even a casual listener of that podcast and the one that follows it can’t help but notice that the only voices heard aside from the hosts are conservative leaders. They even play the entire Ted Cruz ad, as if I haven’t heard it several times already on other liberal news organizations, as well as an interview with Ted Cruz! Free advertising and free airtime for the sitting Senator from Canada, er, Texas. Do we hear anything from his opponent in this race, Beto O’Rourke, aside from their making fun of his showing and his name, yucking it up right along with that son of a dominionist Cruz?

No, of course not. He’s never going to have any power, in their eyes. He’s just not pulling the interest of the news consumers, that skewed demographic that sits at home watching FOX news as if this was still the 1990’s or something. One might think the media would have learned a thing or two from the mess they made of the 2016 races, following the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) around like little puppies afraid they’ll miss the next tidbit of tasty gossip. All the while certain that their free advertising for this dangerously jingoist, nationalist, uninformed conspiracy fantasist wouldn’t help earn him the White House all on its own. Never consciously realizing that their dismissal of the favorite, a savvy, political insider who had been hounded by the press for nearly 40 years would end up creating a vacuum that something had to fill.

No, they just go on blithely doing the mindless reporting that they always do, looking to see what will get them the most viewer or listener numbers. Never really asking if these were the stories they should have spent their precious time talking and writing about. And so the numbers stack up in the conservative column, and the people follow the media who follow the assumed power, none of them ever asking if that leadership is a judas goat or not.

Let me break this down for you, the layman who doesn’t live and breath politics like I do. Republican primary turnout in Texas is high because in Texas you can only vote in one primary for one party. So if you are interested in selecting the leadership of your county or state (cities are generally non-partisan races by design)  you will go and vote in the primary of the party you think will carry statewide offices. And that party in Texas has been the Republican party. Democrats last won statewide office in 1994, the longest dry spell in recent US history. Only a fool votes in a primary for a party that will not control the state after the next election, or so the average voter thinks.

Ted Cruz was essentially unchallenged in his primary race, so Ted Cruz got every vote of every Texan who voted in the Republican primary unless they took the time to not vote for him. And since most Texans voted Republican he got more votes than the Democratic candidates did. Does this mean anything in the grand scheme of things? Only that most people want to be on the winning side in an election and will change their stances on subjects after the fact just to prove how right they always were.

If Texas had jungle primaries like California does, you would see something you’ve never seen in Texas before, cross-party voting on the primary ballot. You would see a lot less racism and persecution of the transgendered and homosexuals, because there would no target demographic that would vote on issues that arcane without partisan primary grandstanding. If Texas had districts that weren’t gerrymandered to a fraction of a percentage point on average party turn-out (like Pennsylvania) but were instead drawn by a non-partisan commission, you might see people voting for the other party just to get a change of government in their district. But we don’t have those things, and so the self-fulfilling prophecy of Republican victory is underscored by pundits who aren’t interested in how the opposition is hobbled in Texas, they just want to congratulate the victors no matter how rigged the races are at the outset.

Back in LBJ’s day, the Democrats did all this stuff too. It’s hard for them to criticize the Republicans for doing things that they did, that they will do again if we let them. The trick is to inform your leadership that you want a level playing field before you send them to office. That you want maximal voter turnout, sensible districting, wide-open primaries and real discussion of issues. Good luck on getting the media to stop following the easy story, the quick click reward. In the meantime you could just stop believing that pundits know what the future holds anymore than you do yourself right now. Then you might at least stop fulfilling the prophecies that they keep making.

The Blue Wave was real, and then it wasn’t, in the course of about a week. Stranger still, the made-up national story arc seemed to influence in-state coverage as well. Even though Democratic turnout was better than in any midterm primary since 2002, and more than than double 2014, commentators have consistently described the night as at least a mild disappointment, where the Democrats “fell short” of a goal that had been imagined for them.

The thing is, the way the state goes on the electoral college map doesn’t mean very much at all for the way Texas is governed. And while it’s possible that the party jumps back to life with the shock of winning one or two statewide elections — that there will be a proof of concept, and then everyone suddenly gets serious — it’s more likely that things change slowly, over an extended period of time, and that small gains and positive signs feed bigger gambits. What’s most important in the long run is the overall composition and strength of the Texas Democratic Party at the local and state level.

In that light, the fact that Democratic turnout doubled in urban counties while Republican turnout stayed essentially flat is significant. There are quite a few winnable legislative districts around those cities. The whole ballgame for the party is getting people to vote and to make a habit of voting. Trump is helping them do that — the trick now is to get it to stick, which it most certainly did not after the elections of 2006 and 2008.

Christopher Hooks – Texas Observer – The All-or-Nothing ‘Turning Texas Blue’ Narrative Needs to Be Retired

The interview with Christopher Hooks on the Texas Standard today spells out exactly what I’m talking about. The media, focused on national races and their outcomes, never even considers the fact that the truism all politics is local holds sway even in places as large as Texas.

Texas Standard, Is It Time To Stop Talking About ‘Turning Texas Blue’?

Progressives are making inroads in Texas, and there isn’t a damn thing that Republicans and conservatives can do about it. For Democrats to win they have to offer real improvement on what the Republicans are doing now. Funding schools. Improving safety. Protecting the environment and moving Texas into the the next century. Listening to the OHM and his canuck croney Cruz talk, you would think that there aren’t fields of windmills in West Texas providing essential electricity to the grid. That solar wasn’t the future and that the emergence of electric cars in the cities isn’t a thing that is happening. You would think that Texas lives and dies by coal, which was never true, and that we’re still in the wildcat days of the oil boom in Texas, which we aren’t.

It’s time to put the conservatives where they belong, in the past with their fear of the transgendered and the homosexual. Their need for their religion to be front and center in everything they do. We cannot afford to be side-tracked into meaningless crusades against the different and the strange. There is real work being left undone because of their fear-mongering and immigrant hating. Time to roll up the sleeves and get back to work. 

The Corrupting Influence of Faction

Facebook – Robert Reich

The parties organized themselves outside of government as a way to control government to profit themselves. We were never a Democracy, and to the extent the parties have subverted the election process, we are that much less a Republic.

I have never been interested in living in a “dictatorship of the proletariat” no more fond of one dictator a thousand miles away than I am of a thousand dictators a mile a way. Democracy is and should be limited to the vote, the selection process of our representatives.

The parties should only endorse candidates that embody what they see as their core principles. They should only embrace candidates that further the cause of the party. That is their purpose. The problem arises when the only candidates which can appear on the ballot are the candidates from the two parties. When the only candidate which can win belongs to one of the two parties.

This is the situation we find ourselves in now.

I don’t think the GOP should nominate Trump. The fact that he has won primaries has no bearing on his benefit to the party itself. His status as an outsider is detrimental to the party if they embrace him as a nominee, giving him power to set the course of the party for several years to come.

So too the Democrats should not embrace Bernie Sanders if they are not convinced that he would improve the prospects of the party. That doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be on the ballot. That Trump shouldn’t be on the ballot. It means that the system as it currently exists is broken in ways that most people are only now beginning to understand. What is needed is to break loose from the calcium deposits that have formed around the structures of our government, and shake up the ways that our representatives are selected.

Amazon – the correct image, not the one Secretary Reich used.

If you are dissatisfied that your candidate will not appear on the ballot, I say “it’s about time. Now roll up your sleeves and get to work” because it’s going to take a lot more than one election to fix this mess.

Facebook