The Big Two California Voting System

The government has problems, everybody knows this; Congress stagnates at historically low approval rating, and nobody in their right mind trusts the government. Perhaps most disturbing is that party rhetoric seems to be pushing an all-out assault on patriotism and civility. What is best for Republicans or what is best for Democrats has become a more primary concern than what is best for Americans. The lust for power is nearly all consuming inside these parties. All this considered, Patriotslog holds the stance (and quite controversially we have come to find) that government is not the problem; we the people are.

Time and again Congress offers a paltry sacrifice to the idols of reform only to find everything stay exactly as it has always been. There is a fundamental flaw with this expectation; the only person in history to ever voluntarily relinquish power was George Washington. Government will not limit their own authority, nor can we reasonably expect them to do so.  It conflicts with the nature of humanity to limit one’s own power, and few of us would do the same in our own lives. It is we the people who must limit the power of government, because it is we the people from whom the government derives their consent to govern.

California has become the second state to take what Patriotslog feels is a significant step in reform. Along with Washington, California has made party rhetoric much harder for public officials to live by. Proposition 14 passed by the will of the people, establishing an open primary with a “big two” election system. Big two is an election system which holds an open primary–any person from any party can vote for any candidate from any party–with the two highest vote getters in the primary, even if from the same party, compete in a general election against each other. This means the people, not the parties nominate the candidates.

Voting districts are often designed to be as unfair as possible, heavily favored to whichever party holds the state legislatures so that their party’s candidate can be assured victory. In California, gerrymandering had become so outrageous that even when an incumbent was sent to prison for a scandal, that party still won the next election. Change in the state of California had become nearly as rare as change in the 11 secret herbs and spices. In fact, in 250 or so House races in the last decade in California, a seat has changed parties only once.

The top two systems is much fairer because even in a district which heavily favors one party over the other, voters affiliated with the minority party will still have a say in who the candidates are, and therefore, who is elected. This is beneficial because it will help to moderate the candidates. Currently, it is often the most radical candidate who gets elected simply because the districts heavily favor one party; therefore, in order to win a primary (where it is typically only the most radical wing of the party which participates) a candidate must appeal to the radical wing of the party. Because the district is so manipulated to favor one party, voters will naturally stick with their party no matter how radical the candidate. Consider this hypothetical: eight Democrats and two Republicans are running in a heavily Democratic district. In the top two systems, the eight Democratic candidates might compete to see who can be the most radical to appeal to their base demographic because the district is so Democratic. There is a possibility that these eight candidates, or at least a handful of them, could split the majority vote, leaving one, or possibly even both of the Republican candidates winning the primary and going into the general election. This could happen to either party in any district; therefore emphasizing the need for moderation. Of course there is always the possibility that the district could be so heavily gerrymandered that only one party will win; however, logic leads one to believe that candidates will have to be more moderate–the way the majority of Americans are–no matter their party. The evidence of this can be seen in the changes that have already taken place in California. There are even incumbents running against other incumbents.

Moderation is the sensible way to govern. This discussion taking place around the country that one party cannot compromise on their principals to the other is arrogant and obnoxious. One party does not have all the answers. This nation was built on compromise; the best solution is rarely on the left or right, but a combination of the two. Less radical government means the government will represent the people, not an ideology or a party.

Putting the power in the hands of the voters has more benefits than just moderating political rhetoric. It takes power away from the parties. This nation is run by the Democratic and Republican parties. Special interests dictate the funding for the parties, and the parties dictate the agenda for candidates. If an official wanders too far from the party demands, they will be run out of office, being forced to try to run without party support–giving them as much a chance at re-election as Al Gore has at convincing the world he invented the internet. The top two election system enhances the possibility of representing the people rather than the party because it is the people who choose the candidates. The people who voted for this system took responsibility for their own government, rather than allowing the parties to take that responsibility. Blindly following one political party is a perfect example of what is wrong with the government–the people being the problem. We the people cannot allow political parties to be our primary form of government. This is why the top two vote system is needed in all 50 states. If people would inform themselves of the issues, make an educated vote, refuse to allow the government to tell them what their lives will be like, and demand reasonable governance, our government would fix itself–no reform needed.

Obviously this system upsets the parties; few entities crave power more than political parties. Exhibit A is Mitch McConnell promising that President Obama would be a one term President. I have no problem with a Senator disagreeing with a President; in fact, I prefer it. If everyone agrees than ideas are never challenged, and therefore, rarely improved upon. My problem is the Senator showing open disdain and refusal to cooperate with the person the American public chose to lead the nation. The people have spoken, and it is Mitch McConnell’s job to work with their chosen leader to benefit the nation any way possible, not to oppose every breath he takes in order to have his party defeated in four years. This idea came from the power hungry party, which snaps at an opportunity to gain an office with more aggression than a two year old snaps at marbles while playing Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Because this system so upsets the parties, a movement has been established against it, and it will most likely be tried in court as the WA system is currently being tried. We only hope the courts make the right decision and allow the will of the people to be validated. Patriotslog sees no way in which the top two system could be unconstitutional. We can only hope the will of the people will stand. That is the foundational idea of this nation.


–Matt Young

15 August, 2012


About patriotslog

I am studying to achieve a double major in political science and journalism from the University of Kentucky. I am married to a wonderful woman named Sierra. I am starting this blog because I feel the political climate in Washington is carving deep canyons for our children to climb out of. Our representatives, on both sides of the isle, do not represent us, they represent the lobbyists.This blog is not to give answers, but to make people think. I believe the more we think about our ideas the better they will become; as opposed to becoming more and more intrenched in far left or right wing brainwash, where it seems nobody thinks anymore. I hope y'all enjoy.

Posted on August 16, 2012, in Constitutional Law, Patriotslog Articles, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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