2008 - Year Of Change Doesn't Have to Be Only About Candidates

Happy New Year to all Seattle Weekly readers!


2007 Anthony Rigano

In these first days of the New Year, we find the longest presidential campaign in U.S. history wide open.

The major party nominations are competitive, but at the same time, there are efforts worth noticing outside of the big two.

2008 will be the year of change, a message that will dominate rhetoric from most angles. If we keep our eyes open, change will come not only in the form of a new national leader. We could see democratic participation evolve toward meeting the needs of a 21st Century United States.

Those of us in the electoral reform movement hear bogus criticism of how our proposals are complicated.

Sure, the mechanics of elections and democracy are complicated and the current system is no exception.

As the election process officially opens tomorrow with caucuses in Iowa, the focus is on candidates and issues. But there?s an undercurrent that I want to take a glance at. The nominations are an exercise of our associational rights. The two major parties are so integrated with our government, it?s easy to forget they?re private organizations.

With so much news about polls, candidate debates and frontrunners, the fact of the Democrats and Republicans having their own rules for nominations gets lost in the shuffle.

Michigan and Florida moved their nominations forward on the calendar. This violated the rules of each national major party organization. The national GOP has penalized New Hampshire and Michigan state Republicans 50% of delegates each. National Democrats have zapped Florida and Michigan Dems? 100% of their respective delegates.

This means some seats on the floor of each national convention will be taken away or reduced. Some people are howling, but guess what: in the USA we?re supposed to have the right of privacy and association. These penalties are a legitimate exercise in organizational discipline. Here?s the bottom line: if you don?t like how these party?s make their rules, don?t associate with them!!

There are a myriad of rules with each major party regarding how votes get assigned to delegates. The Democrats and some Republican state organizations use proportional delegate allocation. But most voters aren?t concerned about the threshold for a proportional voting system. They?re going to vote their preference. It?s a simple interface, like an automobile, drivers want to turn the key and go. If you?re in the market for a new car, you?ll do some research and hopefully find a good rig. Most consumers won?t get into engineering specifics. They?ll read reviews and go for something that?s dependable or stick with a trusted name brand. Many will get seduced by sex appeal. But again, to each their own.

The same should go with a candidate or political organization. If you?re interested, look into their policy proposals. If you don?t like what you see, shop elsewhere!

There are many proposals on how to fix the system with nominations. I feel the best solution is to let private organizations determine their own affairs. Innovations are emerging outside from the dominant state controlled solutions. And it should be no surprise that these are in tandem with the information revolution. One interesting effort is Unity ?08. In June, they?re going to conduct the first Online national convention to nominate a candidate for president and vice-president.

In another effort, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is meeting in Oklahoma City next week with other establishment figures to discuss forming a government of national unity.

We're going to be watching elections here all year. Of course the big race is for president and Washington governor. But we're also going to keep an eye on the little things that could set the stage for changes in the years to come.

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