Monday, March 29, 2010

Catching up on California Referenda, etc.

My lack of writing here does not mean that a lot has not been going on. There is nenewed interest in the issue of Corporate Personhood, so I'm going to be speaking in Davis on April 15, and then we are celebrating Democracy Day in Point Arena with a couple of events: on the 23rd This Land Is Your Land will be shown at the Arena Theater and on the 24th we'll have a discussion on corporate personhood.

There will be 5 propositions on the California primary ballot on June 8, 2010. I'm not sure that illustrates democracy in action, since getting propositions on the ballot takes so many signatures these days, it mostly happens when some big business interests have money to throw at an issue. You can see my takes on the five issues at June 2010 California Propositions Overview at

By way of controvery, I am in favor of Proposition 14, which makes the primaries essentially non-partisan. I don't buy the fear-driven arguments of the California Democratic, Republican, and Green Parties. What is good for the citizens is not necessarily what is good for the parties. Incumbents tend to have a lock on elections in California, and so small groups of voters, the majority within the dominant party in each district, decide almost all elections in the primaries. In particular I think that "third" parties will be able to attract more voters in the primaries under Proposition 14, and that should help them build their cores of regular voters. In the many districts of California that have become nearly single-party, in November everyone will be able to choose from two candidates of the dominant party. That would at least break the monotony.

Money will still be a big factor in the campaigns, and so will all the usual political trappings. I don't expect 14 will pass, but if it does I don't expect a lot of change overnight. I do hope that more people will participate in primaries and also register decline-to-state, instead of feeling they have to be in a particular party to participate.

1 comment:

  1. We have already seen how a "top-two" system works, in Washington state and Louisiana. Washington state used it for the first time i 2008. For the first time since Washington has been a state, there were no minor party or independent candidates on the November ballot for any congressional or statewide state race. In Louisiana, in 35 years of using that system, never did a minor party candidate qualify for the second round.