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By Ann Menasche


April 1, 2010 (San Diego)--Proponents of Proposition 14 claim that the “Top two primary” would relieve the partisanship and legislative dysfunction that characterize our political system. I could not disagree more. Rather than fixing the situation, Proposition 14 would permanently cement in place the appallingly broken two-party system that has been on full display in Washington this year.


Proposition 14 would effectively eliminate the already limited electoral options for many American voters, preventing innovative ideas and solutions from entering the political debate. Similar laws passed in Washington and Louisiana have not improved the partisan nature of elections or elected officials.


Proposition 14 would deny independent and third party candidates and politicians in this country a chance to be heard while further polarizing our districts and limiting voter choice – all at increased costs to tax payers and candidates. Consider a Democrat living in a district that is 60% Republican; it is likely that almost every general election will feature the two Republican candidates who got the highest votes in the “primary”. This person would effectively be disenfranchised, facing a choice of voting for a candidate s/he strongly opposes or not voting at all. The 25% of Californians who are neither Democrats nor Republicans may never see an independent or third party candidate on the general ballot again.


Is Proposition 14 the best our democracy can hope for? Not when there are real, viable solutions to our electoral problems that are easy to implement, and would increase voter participation and help revitalize our democracy:

1) Instant runoff voting (IRV) and proportional representation – these systems, which allow voters to rank candidates rather than just choosing one, would eliminate costly and poorly attended primaries altogether, solve the partisanship issue by allowing all candidates to compete in an open playing field, prevent “spoiling”, and ensure that the winner garners a majority vote.

2) Same day registration and paid time off on Election Day – ensure all Americans have access to vote.

3) Public financing of campaigns – ensures all candidates have an equal voice in the debate, not just the billionaires, and eliminates corporate domination of our elections.


In a year when voters are angry and disgusted enough to look past the bickering Democrats and Republicans for effective, common sense solutions, it’s not surprising that the two major parties would try to prevent the election of independent and third party candidates while ignoring genuine solutions that would make our elections more democratic. Californians defeated a similar “top two” proposition in 2004. Let’s hope voters will see past this partisan ploy, and vote no on Proposition 14 in June.


Ann Menasche of San Diego is the Green Party candidate for California Secretary of State.


The opinions expressed in this editorial reflect the views of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. If you wish to submit an editorial for consideration, please contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

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Unbelievable.  A writer that not only shares information about their publishing, but a writer that actually responds to comments in a blog!  Thank you for both things, for sharing and for responding to people here.


Our government should be democratic.I hope this government run well in the future and think about the 14 proposition.

Broken two party system

Ann Menasche hits the nail on the head!

People need to look at the results Louisiana and Oregon got, more extreme candidates (like David Duke) and incumbents. As Ann points out the real answer to our election problems is in Proportional Representation and Instant Runoff Voting. Most advanced countries use at least some of these systems. They elect a majority middle of the road candidates and some extreme candidates and third party candidates in proportion to the voters that supports them. Many more women are elected than here in the US.

Strong effective financial support of campaigns are another necessary requirement to allow the people to effectively elect good candidates that will effectively represent the people, not just the rich and the corporations.

Another requirement that Ann doesn't mention is the need for good honest news reporting. Our private news media simply parrot press releases and promote distortions and histrionics. Some solid investigative reporting that reports the facts and not the horse race or the rantings of politicians are desperately needed. As our founding fathers knew, a good news media is essential to a democracy.

I agree with Chuck.

East County Magazine is an excellent example of the type of news this country needs. I also agree with Ann that our two-party system is broken and disenfranchises half the electorate.

As Democrats have moved farther and farther to the right, those of us who oppose bailouts and wars of aggression have no chance of electing anyone who might represent our interests. People who vote Democrat or Republican are usually voting for selfish interests such as being for or against reproductive rights, gay marriage, legalized marijuana, health care reform, etc., and have to ignore the torture, war crimes, and crony bailouts they're consenting to when they vote.

Do I also care about selfish interests? Sure. But not enough to authorize the killing of over a million innocent men, women, and children in my name so that I can get more privileges. Not enough to authorize the transfer of trillions of taxpayer dollars to crooked banksters.

If we had honest, open elections with full public oversight, a form of instant run-off voting, public funding, and equal ballot access for everyone, the approximately 50% of us who currently don't vote, might consider it. But then again, I consider myself to be a competent adult, so I'd want to be able to vote directly on budgets and issues, rather than being limited to voting for guardians to make my decisions for me as if I was incompetent. That still happens in a few places in New England where they have Town Hall Meetings and the citizens can vote directly on local issues and budgets, but direct democracy seems to have disappeared totally from the rest of the U.S.