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November 02, 2006

The Life Of No Party

Everyone from progressives to reactionaries bemoan the lack of political options. “The lesser of two evils,” they say in disgust, often in an attempt to rationalize their own inertia. “If only we had a three party system.”

Yeah, well, I’m against it. I want what our nation’s founders put in the Constitution: a no party system.

The problem with Democrats and Republicans is that they are Democrats and Republicans. They endlessly fight their own Bizarro World Super Bowl; it has some half-time value, but little else. We don’t get the best people available, as the best are way too smart to take on the grief. We do get a lot of meaningless teevee ads from the DNC and the RNC that are, literally, in favor of no one. Like pit bulls on crack, all they do is attack.

So here’s what we should do. Registration opens on August 1st and absolutely everybody who pays a $25.00 filing fee before Labor Day can run. Nobody runs under a political party banner. Let’s keep the elephants and the donkeys in their zoos.

We allow a primary campaign for exactly one month. Candidates get to tell us whatever they want about themselves; they won’t have as much time to attack the mammoth herd. We hold the national primary on the first Sunday in October, and each candidate (obviously, no more than five) who gets at least 20% of the vote gets to run in the final election on the first Sunday in November. No automatic 50.1% wins – the entire electorate gets to chose from the most popular. There are no questions about who gets to participate in the debates: everybody who makes it to the championship round is in.

This will not eliminate the role of Big Money and influence, but by shorting both the playoff period and the championship round while simultaneously expanding the field – even by one candidate – the money will be spread out and the last-ditch fundraising round that fuels the worst in contemporary campaigning will be lessened. Incumbents will have less time to score points by suddenly acknowledging they need their community’s support.

It’s not a panacea, but it would be an improvement.

Oddly enough, such systems are in place in various parts of the world, and have been put in place (with respect to the party-less structure) in a number of significant local elections across America.

At the very least, the bullshit level will be reduced some. At best… well… maybe Gary Coleman will have his shot at the White House.

Posted by Mike Gold at November 2, 2006 09:49 AM

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The championship round should be automatic run-off: Voters rank the candidates. If no one gets 50+ percent on the first round, the candidate with the fewest first choice picks is eliminated, and second choice picks from those ballots are counted. If no one has 50+ percent on the second round, the lowest guy in that round is eliminated, and the next choice for those ballots (either second or third choices at this point) is used. Repeat until you have a winner.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at November 2, 2006 01:25 PM

Money would be even more important under this system than it is now. It would be like the movie box-office battles during the summer blockbuster months -- only more so. On the other hand, we'd get better commercials.

Posted by: Martha Thomases at November 2, 2006 03:05 PM

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