Wednesday, October 11, 2006

As if how we vote is the only way parties survive

Former California Congressman and current Gig Harbor resident (boy I like him already) Burt Talcott (say that with your teeth clenched) has a very energetic defense of of current primary system in the TNT recently. Actually he seems to be defending primaries in general, and attacking the idea of an IRV system, which would do away with primaries.
Both major political parties, although often adversarial on most issues, strongly oppose IRV.
Now, why would both the Democrats and the Republicans oppose IRV when they disagree with each other on so much? Probably because they're the two major parties and fear losing their positions to lesser parties. Defending a duopoly.

That isn't to say that some Democratic county organizations don't like IRV. Whatcom county put it in their platform this year, and Thurston did two years ago.

Party workers conduct workshops for voters, informational public forums, candidate debates and “get-out-the-vote” campaigns. They monitor elections and hold election officials accountable. They sponsor conventions and neighborhood meetings to develop and explain public policy positions.

These essential functions inform the electorate in ways that the government, individuals and narrow interests do not and cannot possibly accomplish; their value far exceeds the costs of conducting primary elections.

Voting a different way won't stop parties from doing these things. Not that parties do this sort of stuff anyway. A lot of local parties don't do a lot of voter education forumy type of stuff. It would be great if they did, but a lot more effort is put into raising money for candidates, not good-for-the public education events.
Primaries enable candidates to demonstrate their political skills and permit thousands of citizens to participate in the nomination process – rather than relegate nominations to a few closeted elite.
This is the most base argument for public primaries, that if we had nominating process within the parties it would be back to the bad old days of Boss Tweed and smoke filled rooms.

It would only be that way if the parties let it be that way. The fact is it has been almost 100 years since the first primaries came along and nearly 40 since they became common. Since then communication technology has, to put it bluntly, has changed a bit. It is possible today to run a nominating convention online (as they've done in Arizona).

Defending the current voting system should not be done by saying "We're trying to save the parties." I'm all for the parties, and one in particular, but the parties' fate will be on how well they address the issues of the day and how well they encourage participation, not on how we vote.

1 comment:

Nathe said...

Got you post via telegraph today< STOP >
Have to disagree that communications have changed in the past 100 years < STOP >