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

Third Parties Are Wasted Effort

Dedicated to Another Anonymous Internet Troll

That isn’t what happened. What the meme image says? That isn’t what happened. Oh, I know the media casts things a particular way. They say cheated when what they can prove is conscious manipulation of existing rules to favor the Democrat within the Democratic party.

The troll who posted this image, both of the trolls that posted this image, have their sources that say Hillary Clinton cheated. They aren’t even propagandist sources; at least, as far as having a specific political agenda to advance goes they aren’t propagandizing. It’s just that democracy is a thing that is as elusive as freedom is when it comes to definitions.

You can’t rely on Wikileaks to deliver unbiased, unvarnished truth any more than you can rely on an author flogging her latest book to be completely forthright when it comes to her own complicity in seeing the biggest fundraiser for the Democratic party received the nomination of the Democratic party. This is why the accusation of cheating doesn’t stick. It doesn’t stick because the private entity that is the Democratic party isn’t beholden to advance candidates that are popular with people who aren’t Democrats. Democratic money, Democratic supporters, Democratic choice. This is party politics 101.

I’ve been working on a post for ages that I had titled Why Libertarians Lose. I can’t make the damned article gel out into a set of arguments and ideas that looked like a consistent narrative. An article that didn’t read as petty and vindictive. I can sum up the long, long argument that I’ve made over the years with a single sentence. There is no reason why libertarians lose aside from the fact that they insanely know the reasons they lose, and then they repeat the behavior that made them lose each and every election previously. The reason the article reads as petty and vindictive can also be summed up with a single sentence. Every other independent and every other third party in existence fails in the exact same way.

They all, independently and in all their third party forms, fall into the same trap. What trap, you ask? The trap of not understanding what politics is. Politics, by definition, discounts individual actors. Your beliefs, your feelings, your desires, are irrelevant to political machinations. This is true of every group effort everywhere. Politics is group effort. Working as a group. Achieving a goal, as a group. How do you achieve goals as a group? Compromise. Compromise is the name of the game and those unwilling to compromise are what makes governing impossible without resorting to the use of force.

Force is the jaw of the trap swinging shut. Force will be brought to bear if compromise remains an impossibility. This is a truism, a fact of human existence that anarchists and individualists everywhere need to understand. Unwillingness to compromise on ideological grounds requires force as a response in order to achieve any given goal. You may be right to say you own all the water in a particular area. You may be able to prove this in court. It will not make you any less dead when the people around you who are dying for want of your water kill you for it.

In this system if you don’t vote blue you had best be prepared to be ruled by red. Because that’s where we are headed in the long run. The ground has been staked out. The forces have been drawn up. Democracy on the one side, and authoritarianism on the other side. The Democrats, through sheer force of will on the part of the populace, have been wrenched into the position of supporting democracy. The Republicans represent the feudalist forces of corporate dominance and central authoritarian rule, as I outlined in Authoritarianism vs Humanism.

ranthonyings.com

The Berners or Bernie Bros as they were labeled by some of the press are still intent on Berning it all down. That is an article I wrote during the election, detailing why these accusations of cheating leveled at Clinton and the DNC are fake. The accusation is simply more of the type of authoritarian bullshit that we’re getting now from the Tea Party neh Republicans. One guy can’t fix the United States by himself, and Bernie Sanders and his candidates still aren’t winning Democratic races. They aren’t winning because Democrats aren’t voting for them, and you can’t make people vote the way you want.

You have to alter the underlying system of primaries and party structure, and that means joining one of the two parties encoded into the system. I spent more than a decade in third party hinterlands. That pursuit is a fool’s errand. Good luck with that.

Here’s another article from earlier in 2016.

ranthonyings.com

Pay attention to the graphic, the one where Austin is split into 5 different districts. How do you fix that? You fix it by participating in the democratic process and then voting for Democrats because Republicans currently run the state of Texas at all levels above county court. It will either be Democrats or Republicans that run the Texas state government because that is how the system in Texas is set up. It is even worse in several other states. Voting third party is no better than not voting at all; possibly worse than not voting. At least the people who aren’t voting aren’t completely wasting their time.

The Democratic party didn’t cheat Bernie out of the nomination because the Democratic party sets its own standards for who can lead it, and Bernie Sanders did not meet those standards. The Democrats set standards in much the same way that Republicans failed to set standards and so got a demagogue elected to the White House. This is the exact failure of faction that Madison opined about. The failure of faction playing out in front of our faces But that doesn’t alter the system that has to be maintained through the parties in the meantime. Someone has to and will do that work. I would prefer to actively participate in the reordering of American society rather than light the match that burns it all to the ground. That is the difference between me and the people supporting Bernie Sanders. The people supporting Donald Trump. I like the dream that the founders envisioned and tried to capture. Failed to capture. Always we strive to be a more perfect union, and we fail frequently. But we pick ourselves back up and try again. That is what being an American is all about.

Saying that the Democrats cannot win Texas, cannot do the job in front of them nationally, is to engage in the waste of time known as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Vote blue or be ruled by red. Stop serving the factions (including Greens and Libertarians) start serving the long-term good of the country. Vote Democrats like Joe Manchin out of office. Do it at the primary level. His vote for Kavanaugh proves what he is as a person. He’s willing to bend a knee before unearned authority. We don’t need his kind anywhere but behind bars.

The Bernie Bros lost because they (Bernie Sanders and his supporters) did not want to play the game the way the Democrats played it. The way The Clintons have played it since ascending to power in 1992. They played the system they knew, and they won. The Clintons won only to lose to Hillary’s high negative numbers, the highest negatives for any presidential candidate in history except for one. Donald Trump, the most hated president ever to be elected to office. Hated before he had done a single thing in office.

Trump played the Republican game exactly the way the Republicans set it up, and won. He’s president, in spite of the fact that the Clintons got three million more votes, and in spite of the fact that his negative numbers were higher than her negative numbers. This little set of facts proves out the game theory hypothesis concerning the worst candidates winning in straight plurality voting, but it proves absolutely nothing about law, or fairness, or cheating.

Cheating is getting the FBI to question your morality a week before the election. Cheating is getting in bed with foreign dictators (the same foreign dictators that Wikileaks is in bed with) and using their assets to hack your opponents campaign. Cheating is what Trump will finally be brought to trial for, if only the House flips and the Senate changes hands sufficiently that the writing will be on the wall for the surviving portions of GOP power. If congress flips and the Democrats follow through on promises made (and why wouldn’t they? They will after all have to answer to voters just as the Republicans do) there will be proof of cheating in the form of criminal convictions. There are already criminal convictions and Mueller is just getting warmed up.

I have news for anyone deluded enough to think that third parties can win elections. The Greens will lose in 2018 (they did) and 2020. Do you know why the Greens will lose? Why the Libertarian Party will lose? Why all third parties will lose? Because the system is set up to make sure they lose. You can call that cheating, just like the articles cited by Bernie Bros talk about cheating in the legal sense, all the while lacking actual laws to bring charges against perpetrators. The system works a particular way because it is set up that way. Making memes and spreading apathy and discontent will not win you elections. It will simply ensure that the GOP holds power just long enough to destroy what is left of the United States.

In the meantime Sanders, who is a consummate politician, has altered the Democratic party so that what happened in 2016 won’t happen again. He changed the rules of the game to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He changed the system from within, which is what you have to do if you want to make effective change.

You cannot, repeat cannot, change the system from outside the system, and the system is only set up to allow Democrats and Republicans on the ballot in the majority of states. That means joining and changing either the Democrats (like Bernie Sanders has done) or the Republicans (like the Tea Partiers have done) but you cannot elect national representatives from any of the dozens of third parties and make effective change. Bernie Sanders proved this with his entire career in Washington.

So good for you, Bernie Bros. You can point to articles to bolster you and your followers apathy and resistance. I hope that cold comfort soothes you when the Democrats don’t reclaim the House and the Senate and Donald Trump and his hold on all three branches of government makes sure that the presidency never leaves the hands of his family. Kiss the ring of the new American kings and be thankful for the crusts of bread they leave you.


Editor’s note. We avoided the worst. The House of Representatives flipped by 39 or 40 seats, depending on how the ballot stuffing inquest turns out in North Carolina. Even Texas went more blue this election than has been seen in a decade or more. So, imminent death of the union averted? Maybe? We’ll see.

There Never Were “Good Ol’ Days”

Anyone who talks about the good ol’ days is lying to themselves. Any student of history can confirm this.

On the Media – The (Nonexistent) Good Old Days – April 3, 2017

In the midst of several days of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings last week, Judge Neil Gorsuch took a moment to wax nostalgic for the days when the process took only 90 minutes and a nominee could relax, even smoke cigarettes, throughout the process. Later, one of Gorsuch’s interrogators, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, did some reminiscing of his own, pointedly recalling a time when nominees offered up useful answers to questions and engaged in sincere discussion. Ah, the good old days.

I don’t see it as anything nuclear or even unprecedented witnessing the Gorsuch hearings as On the Media discussed in the episode. This is just more “same as it ever was” and the funny part will be when Democrats retake the Senate and the House and do to the GOP exactly what is currently being done to them. If there still is a GOP.

I have worked in party politics for years. Studied politics for decades. Having a plan and the authority to execute that plan is how you make the changes you want. The GOP doesn’t have a plan aside from some vague hand-waving about the prosperity gospel (Ayn Rand meets Jesus) and the anarchist delusion that government doesn’t work. That is why they can’t govern, because they have disarmed themselves with their own beliefs.

I am getting really tired of the sophomoric “it’s easy” solutions to thorny political issues. If it was easy, would it have taken 6 months to write the Declaration of Independence? Two attempts and more than 20 years to get a functional union in the American colonies? Politics isn’t easy and it takes compromise with the people you think are poison to make it work. That is just how it goes. That is politics.

Having a plan is the important part. ending gerrymandering with nonpartisan redistricting, ending campaign finance with public finance and barring monetary contributions to members of government, ending factional power by instituting non-partisan primaries and removing the 435 cap on congress (the 435 cap being the easiest thing to change, frankly, and would make the most difference immediately) these changes would alter the political map for the first time in a century. We can see what to change after that as we move forward.

Executing the plan; encourage everyone who thinks they want to take back government of the people, for the people, by the people to join their local precinct meetings and advocate for the kinds of changes that will make government institutions themselves more responsive to the people.

It’s not easy, but it is an achievable plan, especially ending the 435 cap on congress. Breaking that log jam will completely alter the power and makeup of the House, requiring that they work directly with the 30k-ish people they will represent. Compromise with the thousands of representatives that will make up the new House. Institute new policies and procedures for dealing with such a large and uncontrollable body as a properly responsive house can and should be. Parties will no longer be able to control them and most parties will be regional at best. The political map will be altered permanently with just this one change, and that change can be made with a simple piece of legislation from the House.

We need Congress to signal their abandonment of party adherence. We need them to back this kind of proposal as a litmus test for being reelected. No more politics as usual. If you are going to be part of government, you are going to start fixing government.

facebook & facebook/Stonekettle

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

Mandatory Voting

Given a choice, I go to the polls. Not because there is a social contract, and not because “voting fixes everything”; but because it should be in my best interest to participate in the political process.

Like everything else in the world these days, there are some people who seem to think that we shouldn’t be given that choice. Stumbled across a three year old article from Nixon associate John Dean concerning the appalling voter turnout at recent elections. The obvious solution to a Nixonite is (Nixon being known for his fondness of price controls and other top down gov’t interference) mandatory voting. Well, we are talking about John Dean, and it was three years ago. What about today?

Doing a bit of sniffing around, I turned up another more recent article from Norman J. Ornstein. He’s concerned about the polarization in congress. In his opinion, the cause of this is low voter turnout. His solution? Mandatory voting.

Personally, I think that congress isn’t polarized enough. They still seem to pass way too many laws in any given term; laws that, in most cases, are probably beyond the authority of the US Congress. In any case, I very seriously doubt that mandatory voting will affect the makeup of congress. Opinion polling being what it is, it seems to me that even if you forced everyone to vote, blue states would remain blue, and red states would remain red. Could be wrong, but let’s not go there anyway.

Ornstein bemoans the defeat of ‘centrist’ Joe Lieberman in the most recent primaries in Massachusetts by Ned Lamont, a darling of the left, with an anemic primary turnout of 46%. Shocking, isn’t it? That the Democrat party would nominate a left/liberal candidate rather than a centrist? Here’s a thought; why is the public expected to fund and participate in party primaries at all? Where is it written that there are only two parties, and participation in their nomination process should be mandatory for the public?

I think it’s great that the Democrats should nominate candidates that agree with their platform. That was my major complaint against John Kerry; he wasn’t a Democrat. If having to choose between the lessor of two evils is distasteful to Mr. Ornstein, perhaps the solution is to open up the political process, not attempt to control it more with mandatory voting.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard this suggestion. It seems to roll out with nearly every election cycle; pundits bemoaning the lack of interest in the general population for the political process. As usual, most of the pundits simply have it backwards. People aren’t interested because there aren’t any real choices to be made. The average citizen knows that no matter what the candidates say in order to get elected, their votes in congress are bought and sold by the backers who get them there.

Why bother voting, when the real decisions are made by others? My answer is to vote in protest. Cast a ballot for any candidate that isn’t an incumbent. Vote no on all bond proposals. Let them know we aren’t happy with the way things are going. Vote third party (Go LP!) if it’s available to you.

But now, turn it around. Voting is mandatory. What’s a self-respecting protest voter to do in that instance? Don’t vote. Imagine the headache that would cause. They’d have to hire every other citizen as a cop just to have enough people to enforce the law. Or, if you wish to avoid a costly legal penalty, cast a blank ballot. Nobody wins the election, does that mean the gov’t has to close up shop? What a nice dream that is.

It’s mandatory to vote in Australia, and many other places. In Australia, they have actually attempted to enforce the law, which has given rise to the “donkey vote”; pinning the tail on the donkey, pulling the lever for whoever because you are required to. The gov’t estimates that this is a rather low percentage of the population (1 or 2 percent) but I’d be willing to bet that half the people who show up to vote simply pull the lever next to the name they recognize. Voila, instant incumbent re-election, at very low cost.

Which is, I think, the real reason that mandatory voting is even discussed. To artificially prop up the legitimacy of the sitting gov’t, and to insure that it continues to sit for as long as it wishes. After all, if they aren’t seen as legitimate, what’s to stop them from going the way of the USSR?

…And if the population is really that apathetic, who’s to say they shouldn’t?


Editor’s note, 2018. This is another one of those subjects that look different when thinking clearly; when your thinking isn’t muddied with the duplicity of trying to arrange a society without force when there is force being applied around us all the time by the very constraints of physical existence as a living creature.

Try not eating, not breathing, not sleeping if you think you aren’t forced to engage in these behaviors. Let me know how that works out.

Voting should be mandatory with a minimal fine for failing to vote. The funds can go into a coffer that is dedicated towards elections and campaigning. We need to stop this delusion that you can abstain from society while living in it. If you want to live like Robinson Caruso, I suggest you find an an island and get to it. The rest of us like the benefits of society. Things like computers, automobiles and smartphones. Things that take a society to build.

Primaries should be partiless. All candidates running for an office go on a single ballot, and the top two vote getters then go on to the general election regardless of party. Faction is the problem here and removing the factions from the process is the cure.

I’m compiling notes for the Politics 101 that I’ve been threatening to write for quite some time now. It’s starting to take shape, finally.