Monday, September 06, 2004

Electoral Storm: Primary Pamphlet

The “Official Local Voters’ Pamphlet” for the September 14th primary arrived in the mail last week, and it is a pretty miserable item. While previous pamphlets have tended to be somber affairs, this pamphlet has a cartoon pen on the cover to jolly you through the Brave New World we have to deal with. This is first election under the new primary system cobbled together in the wake of the political parties squashing the time-honored blanket primary system for this date (Old System – Go and Vote. New System – Go and Vote but only in One Party).

The voters pamphlet is the one moment where the campaigns are equal, where the little guys who don’t have the money or media or even ability get the same sized box next to the establishment candidates to make their views known. For some of these candidates, this is the their moment of glory, the apex of their campaign, since they don’t get a lot of attention as a “serious candidate” anywhere else. Here is where Christine Gregoire and Ron Simms make statements with candidates like Mike the Mover (“If I can’t move it, I won’t approve it!”). Here’s where Mohammad H Said (“As the last of the apricots fall off the tress around my clinic, I reflect on the fact that so many would rather use food stamps than gather the fruit so freely available”) takes on Senatorial incumbent Patty Murray (“Washington is a great place to live and raise a family, and we must preserve and build on the things that make us strong.”). Here’s where we hear from the Libertarians (soon to lose their major party status, but that’s another story).

But what this shows most of all is the dearth of options within the organized parties. Yes, within some of the sexier races, there are multiple candidates, and even multiple viable candidates (Democrats for Governor, US Rep District 8 and Attorney General; Republicans with in District 8 and … that’s about it – The Reps don’t even want to recognize there are candidates other than Nethercutt running for Senator), but for the most part it’s a wash – each party has one candidate in the field. The decision has been made, and your job, as a good citizen, is to ratify the choice (rejection is not an option).

I go through this and for the first time I am thinking of Voting to Damage. Previously, Democrat voters, in races without opponents, could cross over and vote in Republican races, In other words they would vote for the less-electable opposing candidate, in order to Damage the other side in the Main Event. This is what motivated the parties to overturn our blanket system in the first place. However, with the current solution in place, I can cross over and do some serious damage to the other side in EVERY RACE, voting for the less-electable opponent (where they exist), and because the voter turnout will be depressed (because of this foolishness), my vote will be MORE important than it would be previously.

Hmmm. So in trying to keep outsiders from screwing around with their system, the political parties have created a system where outsiders can be more effective screwing around with their system. Yep, that sounds about right to me. Good going, guys.

More later,