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Monday, March 22, 2010

Dead horse receives another blow

Phil Keisling takes his case for open primaries to the New York Times op-ed page.

Comments (9)

We brag loudly about our democracy even though hard information--science--says it's broken. Radicals have for years heavily influenced decisions in the Federal Government. In Clackamas county where I live the registered voter stats are:
Democrats 87,387
Republicans 76,531
Non-affiliated 42,455
Independent pty 4,858
(Other parties 5000+/-)

Only Republicans and Democrats are represented in the primary. And I'm an independent. Phil Keisling is right.

But Don, nothing's stopping you from registering into a party just for the election and then switching back to independent if you wish. It takes about five minutes online. I'm philosophically a Democrat but I've registered Republican a couple of times just to vote in their primary when the Democratic one was noncompetitive. Unlike in many European countries, parties in the U.S. are open to anyone, there's no ideological litmus test and you can move in and out of them freely. Keisling's proposal is a solution in search of a problem, and I think his campaign is mainly ego-driven (like vote-by-mail, another pointless "reform" of his that took away our freedom to choose whether to vote in person or absentee).

There's a reason to have party lables and not do away with them. When someone identifies themselves by their party we have an idea about what their beleifs are. Of course that doesn't cover them completely but at least gives us, the voter, and idea about who they are.

Nothing in Keisling's plan would eliminate party labels. You can run as a Republican, Democrat or Free Beer Party candidate. It's just that all candidates would be on the same ballot.

It wouldn't solve every problem, or even most of them, but it would allow candidates to be more independent of their parties, and in this age, that's got to be good.

Have you ever met Phil Keisling? You launch a personal attack (ego driven campaign) and I doubt you even know the guy. Phil is a former state Secretary of State. He works at a software company and to my knowledge has no further political ambition.

The most recent illustration of why elected office positions should be non-partisan and primaries open was the nauseous piece in The O by that loser Bob Tiernan. Disgusting . . . disgusting, I say.

This scheme has many problems, and it's very odd that it's still being flogged. It replaces a three-step process (party affiliation, then nomination, then election) with a two-step process (election of top two, then election of top one). Generally, the fewer steps, the less accurate the discernment of the voting public's preference.

Also, when you elect two (it's not really a "nomination") without giving each voter two votes, there are mathematical problems with how it comes out. The top two in the upcoming non-partisan County race could advance with far less than 50% between them, for example.

And then there's the fact that Keisling's plan actually restricts access to the General Election ballot and makes the Primary election just as broad as the General, a big windfall to the campaign industry.

I have no idea what Keisling's future plans are, but he seems to be stuck in a loop on this thing.

No, I have never met Keisling, but I remember well his (and the Oregonian's) sanctimonious and condescending attitude throughout his crusade. Apparently a lot of people felt the same, given how thoroughly his proposal was crushed at the polls. He whined constantly that independents were being shut out of the primaries, never once acknowledging how easy it is for anyone to participate if they really want to. What a jerk.

Regarding other aspects of the Keisling proposal, here is a withering critique by the estimable Dan Meek:


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