Now some things are going to be different. Rather than each of the parties voting for who it is they will be putting on the ballot for November to compete for the grand prizes, this time it is only the top two finishers of all the parties combined that get to return to the main stage to duke it out (click here). No matter who it is they might claim to be representing. That's right, in November there will only be two names on the ballot for things like our representatives to Congress, the State Senate and Assembly. With no write-ins allowed, either. Why? Because it's good for us.
This doesn't apply to the Presidential ticket mind you, because those are national candidates and therefore beyond the reach of California's laws. But for most offices you will get to vote for whomever you like tomorrow. Republicans can vote for Democrats, Democrats can vote for American Independents, Libertarians can vote for Greens, and everybody can go buck wild with the Peace and Freedom Party. And who doesn't like Peace and Freedom? Isn't that what we all dream of? I know I do, though I get precious little of it.
The idea behind this is that it will somehow have a moderating effect on what have until now been ideologically rigid party affiliations, something inviting extremism and an inability for compromises that might actually make California a better and happier land. Which is supposedly why Sacramento is such a basket case.
I disagree with this idea somewhat. I think it has more to do with the unhappy combination of vast quantities of corporate lobby cash and a state legislature filled with narrow venal idiots that have caused government to collapse into utter uselessness here. But perhaps I am being too negative.
And then again, perhaps not.
All of which now leads us to this from a blog called Total Buzz, which is part of the Orange County Register news empire (click here):
Veteran handicapper Allan Hoffenblum has identified 34 districts out of the 100 state legislative and 53 congressional races where two candidates from the same party could emerge as the general election finalists. And they're mostly Democrat against Democrat, given the state's partisan divide, which means some Democrats could be seeking GOP votes as never before. In the state Assembly, for example, Hoffenblum has identified 22 potential same-party runoffs in November - and 16 of those would be Democrat vs. Democrat.
To me this indicates that come November there will be significant portions of our unhappy state with only be one party on the ballot. At least for state offices. Something that would make certain parts of California literally a one party state. I find this to be a very uncomfortable thought. I've always believed such things only happened in places like Paraguay, Cuba or Idaho.
There is also something else. I have been an occasional supporter of third parties. I don't always agree with what it is most of them are laying down, but I do enjoy the way they say it. While the Democrats and Republicans tend to make their electoral appeals as vague and, let's face it, dumbed down as humanly possible, third parties are far more visceral in their appeal, and often don't mince words. And frankly some third party candidates have gotten my vote because of this. I think people should actually say something before they get my support.
But those days could now be over. This from the Oakland Tribune (click here):
California's minor parties facing extinction under new voting system - They've been a colorful part of California's political landscape for decades - Greens, Libertarians, American Independents, and members of the Peace and Freedom Party. But after Tuesday's election, most of them will be all but invisible - and perhaps on their way to extinction.
In past years, minor parties held their own primary elections to choose nominees who would go on to compete with Democratic and Republican nominees in general elections. But that's no longer the case under California's new "top two" primary system, in which all voters choose from among all candidates of all parties -- and only the two candidates who get the most votes advance in November, regardless of party.
Because minor party candidates rarely finish in the top two, and it's now harder for their candidates to get on the primary ballot in the first place, the parties will have little or no presence on the general election ballot. And in politics, invisibility means oblivion.
"It could spell the end of the Peace and Freedom Party," said party chairman C.T. Weber, 71, of Sacramento. "It's a shame that democracy is being undermined by this, but that's the reality if we're not able to overturn the law."
Let's face it, the Democrats have been well on the way to seizing single party control of this state for a while now. The super-majorities they have long desired in the State Senate and Assembly could very well happen this year. Making their control in Sacramento complete.
And as if that isn't enough, we now have an electoral system that could, for many parts of California, guarantee that the party that gave us SB 375, centralized development planning and a whole lot of debt will literally be the only party on the ballot most Novembers. You really do have to wonder how much is left for those of us who might want a look at something a little different once in a while.
For many living in California such a thing will now become an option that no longer exists.