I realized the other day that I am on a vast array of mailing lists from far left to far right, and pretty much everything in the middle. I did receive something about a month ago that made me wonder about the entire process of selection.
The United States currently has a two party system; it was not always like that, but now it has been a two party system. The Republican Party formed in 1854 with former Whigs and former Free Soilers combined with others after the two parties had failed. So at the time there were at least three, parties and in the beginning there were no real parties.
The email that I received had to do with having Independents wanting to be involved in the Democrat or the Republican primary. Independents are at a disadvantage as they, by the nature of their name, are without party. I believe in the last Republican presidential primary in many state elections, the tide was turned by the volume of the independent vote.
At first I became slightly annoyed that someone who is not in a particular party wants to vote in that party’s primary. I disagreed, by all sense of fairness, this was not a good idea. There should be a mechanism for the independents to vote for a candidate of their choice. Much of my thought process dwelled on the fact that they were Independent and it would be better to think of them as Unaligned.
There are enough Unaligned (Independent) voters to warrant their own slot on the ballot not as a party but as not a party. This would mean no conventions, party endorsements just a straight up primary election slot for anyone gathering enough signatures and meeting all other qualifications. The only qualification to running would be that you were not a member or a political party.
I am not sure how this would work on a national level, but on a state level it could work, and probably would be most used on a local level. Extremists of all kinds could compete against each other, or some business executives with a lot of money could run for governor. It would not be a third party, it would be a third choice that could mean different things in each precinct as well as on a state level.
There would be no real need to compete with the other party’s primary. You would not have a consistent party line or party dogma that members must adhere to. The Unaligned would get more recognition than a fringe party that has to compete with the other parties. The Green Party and the Libertarian Party cannot compete against the two big parties. Perceptually it is easier to recognize the unaligned candidate, which would immediately be recognized as not a party.
I thought I had a good idea. So I sent an email to the people that sent me the email. I explained to them that I did not agree with their theory and having an unaligned primary was a better idea. I explained it would be different than running as “Independent” and it would act as a primary for Independents. It wasn’t a well-received idea. I had to explain it twice and in the end, I probably raised more confusion than provided clarity. An independent candidate just runs and an Unaligned primary gives legitimacy of competition in the general.
If being unaligned could automatically open up a primary slot in each election throughout the Commonwealth, opportunities could open for more people to run for office. I am sure the entertainment value after the election would be priceless, as representatives try to adjust to someone who is not beholden to the party bosses, and could switch sides depending upon the issue. There would be a give and take and be like what was done before representative bodies went into hyper political mode.
On the local level, it would mean more opportunity for people to be involved. More ideas, more talent, and more participation from the citizens at large would probably bring a plethora of single issue candidates. The interesting part about single issue candidates is that, if they win, it will be a crap shoot on how they are going to vote on other issues.
If you look at the gridlock that has plagued politics recently, and the increased pressure from both parties to vote against anything the other one advocates, it appears that there is a need to break the current system up to a certain extent. I believe in adding primary a slot without adding a new party. It is difficult to add a political party nationwide, because of the oligarchical control of the existing two parties. People feel that they are throwing away their vote by voting for a candidate who is perceived to have no chance. We have a number of fringe parties, the Green Party, the Libertarian party and some other smaller parties. None of these parties appear to have a chance to draw many votes, as they are limited by a single issue or a distinct political philosophy.
In a congressional election, it could swing, depending upon the winner of the Unaligned primary, with a right wing versus a left, potentially determining the winner, even if it is a major party that wins the election. It can change the balance of everything if the Unaligned primary were available to the masses. As it stands now, if you run, you are on the ballot without opposition as long as you can meet the signature and residency requirements. The signature requirements are higher, because parties have shown in elections that they will get the most votes.
The system as it now stands does not seem to work. Perhaps this would be an answer. Maybe the best people would run and things would be less polarized.