There is a growing dissatisfaction with the American so-called two party system. The power of the Democratic and Republican Parties has reached an all-time high. With this power has also come unprecedented abuses of American citizens. Legislation passed by representatives of these parties within the last couple of years have dramatically reduced liberty in the U.S.
In 2001, following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 9/11, the Patriot Act was passed. This was presented as a means to improve government protection of Americans against future terrorist attacks. This legislation was passed, as with most legislation, without full disclosure to the American people. This Act was meant as a temporary emergency legislation to handle the crisis of 9/11. Most of the provisions were set to expire in 2004. We are now in the year 2014 and extension after extension continue to keep the laws in force. The provisions of this Act, as recently disclosed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden allowed for mass surveillance of internet and phone records for all Americans-a complete violation of privacy.
In 2010, the two-party dominated representatives passed the Affordable Health Care Act. This Act of Congress has led to a huge debacle in the health care industry. Promises were made that could not be kept. The legislation sent private health care premiums soaring and enrollment and provision of care in the new health care exchange have been riddled with problems. This legislation, like the Patriot Act had very little transparency available to the American people. It is like an onion with each peel revealing new and horrendous consequences that are imposed on the citizens.
As a means of restraining the unbridled power of these two parties, there is a wind of change in the political climate. It is called Top 2 legislation. At first glance, it appears to be yet another system to keep the powers that be in power. A closer look, and a deeper understanding reveals an opportunity to give smaller parties and independent voters more voice in the government.
Three states have implemented this with more soon to follow.
Statistically 95% of election results are determined by the results of the primary election. The primary election, therefore, is critical in determining the direction of the country. Prior to Top 2 legislation, all primaries were bi-partisan vehicles for determining the front runner that would represent the Democratic or Republican parties. These primaries cost tax payers $400million in 2012 and yet did not represent independent nor third party members. (From www.Endpartisanship.org )
The Top 2 laws disallow private partisan primaries because of their exclusionary nature and cost to taxpayers that do not benefit from them. In order to make the primary equitable, these laws allow for only one primary for all candidates regardless of party affiliation. All registered voters are eligible to vote in the primary and are not mandated to vote based on party affiliation. The Top 2 candidates will move to the general ballot for final election. In California, voters register as party preference only, there is no party affiliation status.
The passing of Proposition 14 in 2010 in California instituted the Top 2 Law.
The passage of Proposition 14 changed the way that elections are conducted for all statewide offices in California (including the Governor and other executive positions, members of the State Legislature, and members of the State Board of Equalization), as well as for United States Senators and members of the United States House of Representatives. Proposition 14 does not affect the election of President and Vice-President of the United States, local offices, or non-partisan offices such as judges and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Instead of allowing each political party to hold a primary election open to just its members (and independent voters, if the party chooses to do so) to determine its candidate for the general election, Proposition 14 proposed to create a single primary ballot that would be identical for all voters. All candidates running in the primary election, regardless of their political party preference (if any), would appear on that ballot. The two candidates with the most votes would then qualify for the general election, regardless of which party they identify with (if any) (Wikipedia).
Although it would appear that these laws pave the way for more domination by the Blue-Red regime, there are significant features that allow smaller parties an opportunity that they did not have before.
One benefit to the Third parties is the opportunity to garner the vote of independent voters. Independent voters have grown to 42% of the population, based on the latest Gallup Poll (Jan.8, 2014). An effective campaign to reach these unaffiliated voters could easily by pass bi-partisanship.
Another opportunity for Third Parties to succeed is through forming coalitions to support like-minded candidates. Green and Libertarian Parties, for instance, could join forces to support candidates in their respective parties.
The fact that voter turn-out is significantly lower for Primary vs. General Elections also allows an advantage for Third Party Candidates to make an impact on the election results. For instance, in 2008 7million voted in the California Presidential Primaries Combined vs. 13 million in the General Election. A high turnout of voters who are Independent and Third Party preferenced could provide a distinct advantage to the Third Party Candidate.
This change in our election system is new, so the results may not be too evident yet.
There is one instance in California that shows the impact it can make. An incumbent 20-term Congressman Pete Stark was unseated by 31 year old Eric Swalwell. Although they were both Democrats the wide discrepancy in their campaign financing demonstrates how an underfunded underdog can prevail under the new law.
Swalwell also credited his victory to the election reforms, calling the top-two system and redistricting “a game-changer for California politics and I think it’s a wake up call for all of us. You have to talk to a broad base of the constituency now. You can no longer be relying on politically drawn, gerrymandered district.”(SFGATE Pete Stark issues concession Posted on November 7, 2012 | By email@example.com (Carolyn Lochhead )
It is time to give the people the voice in America. The fact that the fastest growing segment in the political sphere are the Independents shows that those in government are not representing its citizens well and they are rejecting partisan associations.
Third Party Candidates can learn from Eric Swalwell’s win:
Asked how he won, Swalwell said in a phone interview, “We did it the old fashioned way, went out to voters and told them we wanted the job, and we showed up. I think we drew a sharp contrast between our campaign and someone who just didn’t seem up to the job any more.”(Sfgate)
The Top 2 Laws provide an opportunity to those without party representation as well as those members of smaller Third Parties. Third Parties can use this as an opportunity to educate the unaffiliated and gain support. With each win Third Party Candidates who demonstrate their ability to work for the benefit of the people can grow their parties. As these Third Parties gain strength America will have a government that is as diverse as its people. This diversity will insure that every voice is heard to make a better America.
I propose that we encourage the Top 2 movement across America. www.Endpartisanship.org and www.independentvoting.org are two organizations that can be supported in this movement. They were instrumental in the passing of Proposition 14 in California. With each state that changes their primary to the Top 2 format the Bi-Partisan model of government has potential to lose its power. If the major parties do not respond to the needs of the people they represent they will continue to lose members or they will change to be more responsive. Either outcome will change the power dynamics, and we will no longer be at the mercy of the two party system.
It is important that we educate Independent voters how to utilize the new power that they have in the election system. Every vote does count. There are no wasted votes in a Top 2 system. This growing constituency can be a powerful boon to Third Party Candidates that are willing to represent their needs.
As the power of the government reduces our liberty as Americans, we are ready for a change that will restore what was lost. Those who are willing to take action for liberty will earn the votes and win the Primaries that will lead to victories in the general elections. We can unseat the power mongers and let freedom ring.
This article was inspired by a radio interview by Robin Koerner of The Blue Republican Radio Show with Chad Peace of the Independent Voter Project on The Daily Paul Radio. http://www.bluerepublican.org/2014/11/16/interview-chad-peace-independent-voter-network/