No Rock Party, But Ballots Still Provide Happiness.

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Krist Novoselic writes about music and politics every Tuesday and Friday on Reverb
The period to declare candidacy for public office in our state is over. Here's the Rock Party update for election 2010: no candidates running in Washington state. I could have paid the $1,740.00 and filed to run for US Senator: Krist Novoselic Prefers ROCK Party, but that would have been counterproductive for at least three reasons.

First, I couldn't get it together to help start a political party. Where does all the time go? Blogging for Seattle Weekly, tending to planting and other chores on the homestead, playing finger-style guitar, visiting Grange meetings and organizing farmers markets, relaxing with my lovely wife--and there's plenty more I've left off! Here's what's at the heart of my political beliefs/motivations: People need to get together and engage the system. That's why I think political association is so important. It's a simple equation--power in numbers. How could I run as Prefers ROCK Party when that entity never formed? No nominations, no rallies, no platform committees--not even a fundraiser BBQ! As a citizen or a candidate, you want to feel you're part of something larger.

Second, I already did my protest candidacy last year. If you recall, I ran as Prefers GRANGE Party candidate for the position of Wahkiakum County clerk. I ran under this banner to call attention to how important private association is. The Grange is a non-partisan group that doesn't run candidates for office. The point to my campaign, which I voluntarily suspended, was to protest certain state election rules.

In brief, current law allows a rogue candidate to glom onto any existing organization--Grange, Democrat, or Republican--on the ballot. If a voter misses any information that draws attention to such a ploy, the candidate gets a free boost and the party's reputation may be smirched. That's why I dropped out of the race. It would have been wrong to confuse citizens voting in good conscience for the Grange Party.

Running for office is a big commitment, and you run to win. It's one thing to protest, it's another to really run in an attempt to add to the political dialogue. Besides, these party-association issues with the current system will be weighed in federal court this November.

Third, there are good things about current Washington state election law. Many other states have erected hurdles to exclude minor parties, including signature requirements and other thresholds. Washington State, on the other hand, is pretty much wide-open about letting candidates and parties on the ballot. It's a new and unique system that seeks to provide voters with information. It's basically a non-partisan voting system that allows candidates to send a message to voters in sixteen characters or less. There are plenty of Prefers Democratic (or Republican) Party candidates, but some are getting creative with the message they want to convey. In my 19th legislative district there's a candidate that Prefers Lower Taxes Party. I've been aware of this candidate's political work, and that statement is a pretty good indicator of what he's about. Someone in another race is identifying Prefers Neither Party. So what if he prefers neither party, what is he for? There's a Prefers Reluctantly (R) candidate and also a Prefers Problem Fixer Party. Here's a weird one: Prefers Senior Side Party??? There's even someone who Prefers Happiness Party. Cute, but unhelpful to voters.

If you can't find happiness by association, you can always run as Prefers Vote for Me Party! I'm fine with that, or other cues that do not infringe on the name of a private group. Real political parties, large and small, ought to be able to have a say about how their names are invoked on the ballot.

Lastly, there could be a ROCK Party--if you want it. In the meantime, I'll just vote in the August primary and November general election. In the future, it's possible that someone could run as Prefers ROCK Party in protest of bass players promoting private association. But I'm really not a party boss, unless it's backstage, a birthday celebration or some other kind of fun get-together.

 
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