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Chuck Schumer
For some reason, Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to limit voter choice, reduce voter participation, and help Republicans win. Weird.
Dear god no:
POLARIZATION and partisanship are a plague on American politics [...]

We need a national movement to adopt the “top-two” primary (also known as an open primary), in which all voters, regardless of party registration, can vote and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, then enter a runoff. This would prevent a hard-right or hard-left candidate from gaining office with the support of just a sliver of the voters of the vastly diminished primary electorate; to finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle.

California, which probably mirrors the diversity of America more than any other state, was racked by polarization until voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2010 that adopted a “top-two” primary system.

Paul Hogarth from our campaigns team, and a Calitics veteran, has already hit Schumer hard on the California angle. But I'm going to pile on, below the fold.

Let's be honest. Just one party is polarized, and that's the GOP. That's their problem, not Chuck Schumer's or anyone else's. Let Reublicans fix their own shit. But even both parties were polarized, so what?

Partisanship is deeply ingrained in the fabric of our nation's being. There's nothing wrong with it. It gives people without the time and inclination to research every single candidate a guidepost upon which to base their voting decisions. It gives people a flag to rally around, a cause to stir them to action. That's why parties exist. And voters should be allowed to determine the direction of their own parties. That's not a problem that needs solving, and even if it was, his solution does nothing to do so.

The top-two primary system is a plague, removing the ability of voters to choose their party's nominee, electing unrepresentative officials, reducing candidate choice, and crushing voter participation.

I love Schumer's fantasy that California was once polarized, and now it isn't. You know why it's no longer polarized? Because Democrats now have a super-majority in both chambers of the state legislature and a governor of the same party. In other words, polarization has disappeared BECAUSE of partisanship, and specifically, the ability of one party to convince the electorate that it's the best choice for the state.

This isn't rocket science. It's simple math. Count the number of Democrats, then count the number of Republicans. Yet here is Schumer saying crazy dumb stuff like this:

The [top-2 system] has had a moderating influence on both parties and a salutary effect on the political system and its ability to govern.
Ha ha ha ha! California Republicans are just as batshit insane as they always were. They're just in the deep minority were they can do no harm. Put DC Republicans in the deep minority, and national polarization will also end. One-party rule has a way of squashing conflict.  

Then there are situations like CA-31, where two REPUBLICANS ended up facing off in the general election in a 57-percent Obama district. How did that happen? Well, a gaggle of Democrats ran, but just two Republicans. So the multitude of Dems split up the vote, and a solidly Blue district ended up being represented by a right-wing Republican. Tell me again how that is a "moderating" influence, much less democratic?

Worse off, the threat of a split ballot means the parties must limit the number of candidates entering the race. So rather than have a clean and honest inter-party debate about who the best nominee is, parties are forced to arm-twist candidates off the ballot. The top-2 limits voter choice, not expands it.

But the biggest indictment? It kills voter participation. This is what proponents of California's top-2 system said when debating the ballot proposition that enacted it:

Allan Zaremberg, President/CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of California said that in yesterday's primary, voter turnout was around 30% -- and that vote, as in most primaries, determined most of this elections elected officials. "That's not democracy," he said. Prop 14 will allow a majority of voters to turn out in the primary.
Dear god, 30 percent is bad! So what happened when Californians voted under the new system? This:
Screenshot of story: California Primary Turnout: Worst Ever. A little over 18 percent of California's registered voters cast a ballot in Tuesday's primary
If 30 percent is bad, then 18 percent is even worse, right? The worst ever, even!

So yes, Schumer is wrong. Very, very wrong.

Or very right, because there's also this, as Paul pointed out:

The top-two primary in California was supposed to rescue “moderate” Republicans like Abel Maldonado from the threat of a Tea Party challenge. But as state Democratic chairman John Burton predicted at the state party’s 2010 convention in Los Angeles, it was really more about helping big business elect more of their Democrats—with cross-over votes from Republicans.
If you're a corporatist Dem, then a top-2 system in an era of GOP decline makes lots of sense, a perfect way for corporate interests to undermine a populist people-centric Democratic Party.

And if that's Schumer's goal, then his idea starts making a lot of sense.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by California politics.

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Comment Preferences

    •  As the brits know, you can still GerryMander a (11+ / 0-)

      parliamentary system.

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      —Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:33:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  its faster and easier to pass legislation (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        polecat, Sonnet, avsp
        •  Prior to 2009, I'd have said that was not a bad (10+ / 0-)

          thing (to have slower legislation).  The recent, MASSIVE colonic obstruction known as the GOP makes me have to reconsider that view.

          Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
          I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
          —Spike Milligan

          by polecat on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:37:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Opposing filibuster reform and the like (7+ / 0-)

            simply because later on someone might do something evil with it is just shortsighted.  The GOP would never have had the chance to implement their batshit crazy ideas in 2011, if the Democrats had been able to deliver on theirs when they had a legitimate (if not super-) majority.  Further, the GOP never has any trouble implementing their own agenda, whether they have a supermajority, a bare majority, or even no majority at all.  This is a major problem with the Democrats which goes well beyond filibuster reform…but if there were no filibuster, Democrats would either have been forced to act on their 2008 agenda, or everyone would have been wide awake by 2010 that they were just lying.  They would not have been able to have it both ways, as they've been doing the last 2 decades.

            To quote George Washington on this subject:  

            I have never yet been able to discover the propriety of placing it absolutely out of the power of men to render essential services, because a possibility remains of their doing ill.

            Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

            by Big River Bandido on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:03:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Its faster and easier...for both sides (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          polecat, aaraujo

          Just be prepared for the results when you don't win the election.

      •  True, but you can get more done as the majority (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aaraujo, Sonnet

        and it is more friendly to >2 parties.

      •  Amen (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aaraujo, Simplify, Gary in NY, polecat

        I used to think a Parliamentary System would cure all that ails our political system. Then I saw what Netanyahu does to the Israeli Parliamentary System and realized we would do the same and probably worse. (Netanyahu is famous for seeing which way the political winds are blowing and calling a snap election when it favors him just so he can expand his influence by a percent or two)

        We would have an election multiple times a year whenever some faction within the ruling coalition thought they could gain a political upper hand. Also dysfunctional parliamentary governments take forever to form a coalition, iirc Iraq frequently takes 6 months to a year after an election just to form the government.

        One foil hat to rule them all

        by Aluminati on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:58:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Biggest Feature is Ability to Trigger Early Elec- (5+ / 0-)

      tions. More than any other single feature, this one democratizes government by first introducing some irregularity to the election cycle, and 2nd increasing the importance of popular sentiment.

      If we could jury-rig such a feature into our system, and both the majority and minority parties would need to have the ability to trigger early elections, it might be an important improvement.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:47:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Parliamentary systems (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sonnet, renzo capetti

        do appear to be more responsive to the population than our current US Congressional system.

      •  And elections on demand makes for shorter (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sonnet, Simplify, aaraujo, 207wickedgood

        campaigns.

        Our constant campaigning because of scheduled elections is madness.

        I'll never forget the day some Canadian friends came down for a visit in April. I had my (somebody) for Governor sign in my yard.

        "But aren't the elections in November?" they asked me.

        "The election is a YEAR FROM November."

        They looked at me as if I were crazy.

        Yes, DailyKos DOES have puzzles! Visit us here Saturday nights @ 5:00 PDT (easier puzzles) and Sunday nights @ 5:00 PDT (more challenging) for a group solving. Even if you just pop in and comment while watching the fun, everybody is welcome. uid:21352

        by pucklady on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:59:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Snap elections keep people on their toes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pucklady
        •  What is worse? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pucklady, aaraujo

          Campaigning all the time because you think if you aren't out there two years before the election your opponent may gain the upper hand, or

          Campaigning all the time because there is an election every year?

          Mark my words if we were a Parliamentary system we would see the the latter as the pro-forma way the government worked.

          Parliament is is no panacea!

          One foil hat to rule them all

          by Aluminati on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:10:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  THIS! (0+ / 0-)
            What is worse?

            Campaigning all the time because you think if you aren't out there two years before the election your opponent may gain the upper hand, or

            Campaigning all the time because there is an election every year?

            Mark my words if we were a Parliamentary system we would see the the latter as the pro-forma way the government worked.

            Parliament is is no panacea!

            Besides this, there's the general principle that NO nation needs snap elections -- for the exact reasons you state!

            "He hid in the forest, read books with great zeal.... He loved Che Guevara, a revolutionary Veal..... Cow Tse Tongue...." -- Cows With Guns, Dana Lyons

            by thanatokephaloides on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 12:27:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  We've already seen something like this, with re... (0+ / 0-)

        We've already seen something like this, with recall elections being brought by petition. Bring able to call new elections could also be abused.

    •  Sure would be nice to have Socialists ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aaraujo

      Communists and even White-Power parties on the ballot. The French seem to make it work (Jean-Marie Le Pen).

      It would be interesting to see how many people re-regitered as White-Power. And how many re-register as Communist.

      Would the Democrats split into two parties??

      It would be fun, but this will never happen.

    •  in our system (0+ / 0-)

      Over here multi-party systems can arise only when plurality elections are replaced by majority vote ones with either instant or traditional run offs. probably instant is best.  

      The current system benefits corporatists in both parties, especially Democrats.  

      Majority vote systems would benefit Greens and Libertarians in particular, and on civil liberties Libertarians are with us.

      On balance progressives would win because our issues are usually popular and the corporatist strategy is to keep them out of the public eye.

      The most direct way is via state initiatives, and both the two states that suffer most from plurality elections, CA and Maine, have initiatives.   I am rather amazed that progressives haven't figured this strategy out. Maybe the problem is they are all tactics and no strategy beyond looking directly at the national level (Warren!!!) and getting their ideal candidate rather than cultivating conditions where every election can have a progressive voice.

      sigh.

  •  fixed your tags: SCHUMER (0+ / 0-)

    not Schumber

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:32:54 PM PDT

  •  it's so fun to be an NY state Dem (20+ / 0-)

    on top of this guy and Andy Cuomo, my Dem state senator caucuses with the GOP

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:32:58 PM PDT

    •  Funny How Liberal Parts of the Country ALways Seem (3+ / 0-)

      to end up with nontrivial conservative leadership, conservative media and so forth.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:48:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When Gavin Newsom left, San Francisco's (4+ / 0-)

        Board of Supervisors almost selected an actual liberal mayor... and then the monied interests swooped in via Willie Brown through some behind-the-scenes bullshit and got another corporatist in office. Can't be letting those crazy liberals getting ideas!

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:53:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  One point I don't completely agree with Markos on (0+ / 0-)

      He starts out

      Just one party is polarized, and that's the GOP.
      but then ends with
      If you're a corporatist Dem
      and with a putdown of Schumer.

      I'd rather put it that the Republicans have a bigger problem with this, with a whole Tea Party wing, but as the above illustrates, it can happen with Democrats too.  You illustrate that also, where there's a lot of dissatisfaction with Schumer among progressives, and where Zephyr Teachout tried to claim the WFP party line for NY Gov., and is now trying to primary Cuomo. This gives me something to ponder, because I like Teachout, but I don't like to see these intra-party squabbles on our side.

  •  Only Party Apparatchiks like Top Two (4+ / 0-)

    "The Democrats and the Republicans are equally corrupt where money is concerned. It's only in the amount where the Republicans excel." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:34:30 PM PDT

  •  What a horrible idea Schumer has. n/t (10+ / 0-)

    SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

    by commonmass on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:35:01 PM PDT

  •  California's other electoral reform (21+ / 0-)

    I'd say if we are going to take any lesson from California and apply it across the country, it should be putting redistricting in the hands of a citizen's redistricting committee.

    1. Books are for use.

    by looty on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:36:13 PM PDT

    •  Now that's an idea that works (6+ / 0-)

      Takes away the power of the legislature to give out political gifts in the form of favorable districts, and leads to districts that make more sense geographically. I remember the old CA-10 that went all the way from Tracy down until it curved in to cover Morgan Hill. Is there any reasonable way a legislator can cover that sort of district?

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:40:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ironically, a top two system (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eztempo, Sonnet, Calamity Jean

      encourages the parties to retrench partisan gerrymandering.  It is the only way to mitigate the risk of a D+x district electing a republican because 5 democrats split the vote for two republicans to make the runoff.  

      Now, one way this COULD work is to combine a top-two system with instant runoff voting, and say if anyone gets over 50% in the primary, they hold the seat, but that's only available as an option for non-federal elections.  The effect of ranked preference in this instance would, however, to ensure that there is a choice between candidates of different parties, which is sort of the system we have now.

      Regardless, as Schumer's own continued employment proves, the only party that doesn't nominate moderates is the Republicans, so let them fix their problems.  Or lose, they could also lose, and that'd be fine.

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:50:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Instant Runoff is better than "top-two" (9+ / 0-)

        ...because it mostly avoids the counter-majoritarian possibilities of the "top-two" system, while at the same time freeing voters to give their #1 vote to their truly preferred candidate without worrying about thereby inadvertently helping a horrible candidate from the other party.  Think how differently Florida 2000 would have gone had "instant runoff" been available to Nader voters, enough of whom would likely have made Gore rather than Bush their #2 pick.

        •  Runoffs are also antidemocratic n/t (0+ / 0-)

          Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

          by Big River Bandido on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:05:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  disagree (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Albanius

            enough candidates, someone can win with single digit support and no appeal outside of his or her base.  A run off at least helps balance breadth of support with depth of support.  IRV is better than a runoff, but either is good.

            Now, California has separate laws in place to prevent this, but my main point is simply if I'm a party leader looking at top two, i'm going to want to ensure the districts are partisan as fuck.

            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

            by Loge on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:17:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Apologies (0+ / 0-)

          I mis-read your comment.  Instant runoffs are not the same thing as a runoff.  The latter are antidemocratic.  The former are less so.  But I am still not enthralled with the idea that the winner must have a majority.  That requirement tends to eliminate a lot of candidates who don't fit the "majority" profile, but who would be good office holders and good representatives for the people.  Sometimes having only a plurality does wonders for one's governance, because the winner has to appeal to those who did not vote for him/her.

          Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

          by Big River Bandido on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:12:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Even better (0+ / 0-)

      IMO would be a simple mathematical formula...

      Start at the top of each state, and draw a line horizontally, and then "sweep" that line down north to south.  Once the area encompassed has 1/nth the state population (n = number of representatives), that's a district.  And just repeat from that point.

      Do it vertically if you want.  Diagonally.  ANYTHING to get rid of the gerrymandering and political games these a-holes play to get/keep "safe" districts.

      As for elections...frankly, I'm so sick of the whole two-party system and its stranglehold on our government, I'd be for a single election, winner take all.  Get rid of primaries entirely.  To be on the ballot, you need some percentage of registered voters to sign for you.  Then everyone who meets that criteria is on the ballot.  One with the most votes wins, end of story.

      Please, anything, ANYTHING to break this corrupt, deadlocked, career-politician, corporatist system we have now.

  •  It also quashes debate (7+ / 0-)

    in the general election by denying third parties a place at the table.

    As we saw from this year's abysmal turnout (probably helped along by the lack of any meaningful propositions -- we may bitch about the initiative process but issues excite voters more than candidates), people don't pay attention to the primaries. For one thing, they take place in June; schools are getting out, people are thinking about vacations, many of the colleges are out and those voters have returned home and maybe haven't changed their voting address in time. Third party candidates and their issues (valid and otherwise) are lost in the shuffle...then that's it, no do-over in November.

    A budding Sanders, Independent and proud of it, would never get traction in a top-two race; he or she would be at the bottom of the pack and a punch line for future political comedians.

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:36:42 PM PDT

    •  i voted against (6+ / 0-)

      this particular bad idea. (I also voted against Prop13 - I have a long track record of being on the losing end.)

      (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

      by PJEvans on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:40:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Too young to vote against 13 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        laurak, Simplify

        but I did vote against "top two". I have to admit that Prop 13 did help keep my mother and my parents-in-law in their homes, but the problem was that corporations were also included in the deal -- take out the corporate coverage and it would be a lot more reasonable.

        There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

        by Cali Scribe on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:43:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That's the real problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sonnet, mightymouse
      people don't pay attention to the primaries
      Voting should be mandatory, on a holiday. The primary should be much closer to the general election, within a month or two—if more people are paying attention during the primary, an extended "get to know" general campaign isn't necessary. And there should be free prime-time broadcast TV airtime for candidates, and the voter guide should include a webpage with links to candidates' official websites.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:58:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't really care about third parties (0+ / 0-)

      If it were up to me, if we are stuck with a first-past-the-post system, I'd prefer a primary system that leads to a one-on-one general election.  If third parties are capable of making a good showing, then one of the general election candidates should be making an effort to appeal to their supporters.  If those third parties prove inconsequential, then they can be safely ignored.

      I'd be very interested in compressing the election season and moving the primaries closer to the general election.

    •  The many-party debate takes place for the primary (0+ / 0-)

      then the top-two debate takes place between the two candidates that have significant support, be they of two different parties or the same party.  There's no "quashing" of debate.

      Or, if you will, think of the primary as the "general election"and think of the top-two contest as a typical "run-off" that occurs when nobody gets a majority.

  •  Get ready for no choice at the polls. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, koosah, greenbell, sunbro

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:39:23 PM PDT

  •  For a corrupt guy like Schumer (5+ / 0-)

    this rule would increase his selling price immensely.

  •  He's in solid blue New York (0+ / 0-)

    Why would he say this?   There are more Dem voters than GOP in his State.  This is crazy.  

    "The war was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood and treasure, but it was worth all it cost."- General U.S. Grant, Chattanooga campaign

    by Sandy on Signal on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:40:14 PM PDT

  •  It's purpose is Third Way. (6+ / 0-)

    Salon: Centrists’ hot new obsession: How they’re hoping to strip party bases of power

    Joke Line loves it:

    Last May, noted centrist Joe Klein seemed to be very excited at the prospect of California’s new jungle primaries (which send the top two vote-getting candidates, regardless of party, to a runoff) churning out a crop of “moderates.”

    snip

    But be that as it may, the real purpose of this system is to elect moderates to office. They say so right up front. From Klein’s Time article:

    “In the Jungle Primary, everybody has to run to the center,” says Fred Keeley, a former state rep from Santa Cruz who co-chaired the Voices of Reform project, “because that’s where the votes are.”

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:40:15 PM PDT

    •  It could work (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, mightymouse

      if the center was really the center -- but the crazies on the Right are dragging the "center" rightwards with them.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:47:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's wrong on so many levels (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, TomP, Sonnet, mightymouse

      there are no voters in the center.  There are like 8 people who are actually centrists, but mostly independents are partisans who just don't like labels, man.  

      Also, there's an incentive to run further to the poles so long as other candidates compete for the center, because all you have to do is not finish third.   Between a wingnut, an underfunded progressive, a milquetoast democratic moderate, and a chamber of commerce type, if I'm a betting man, I'm taking the wingnut and laying the moderates.

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:53:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Moderate" = Corporate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, Brown Thrasher

      And in 2012 in California, compared to 2010 with the old system, it didn't work anyway. The Democrats who got elected stayed pretty much the same, and the Republicans got more conservative... just like everywhere else in the country.

      Reform and Representation: Assessing California's Top-Two Primary and Redistricting Commission
      Thad Kousser, Justin Phillips, Boris Shor
      August 27, 2013
      It is illegitimate for government to intentionally skew electoral results on the ideological scale.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:01:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Chuck Schumer is trying to create a third party. (6+ / 0-)

    He's so clever, that Chuck.  It's the Citicorp party!  He wants to rig the game so that the guy with the most money and support of the business world always comes out on top.

    Brilliant!

  •  Schumer D, Wall Street (7+ / 0-)

    Schumer is from the Republican wing of the Democratic party.

    “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

    by FishOutofWater on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:42:29 PM PDT

  •  Might as well make political parties.... (5+ / 0-)

    ...illegal then.  There is no need, under Schumer's wacky model, for any political party to exist.  Just every candidate for him or herself.

    Failure to Publicize Acts of Hatred Only Allows Them to Fester and Metastasize.

    by BoxerDave on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:43:35 PM PDT

  •  I'm for eliminating primaries altogether; (0+ / 0-)

    the state shouldn't be paying to run elections for political parties.

    If the parties want to sell candidate slots to the highest bidder, let them -- it's pretty much what happens now, once you remove the electoral window dressing.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:46:12 PM PDT

    •  Funny, state-run primaries (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Big River Bandido, mightymouse

      were a response to exactly what you describe.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:02:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo

        however, state party machines now use the primary system to cut out multiple parties. Enabling smaller parties to choose candidates by consensus while the corporate democrats and republicans can have their primaries would go a long way to even out general elections. Sure, you would have the racist nuts to deal with but you would also have more Green and Social Libertarian candidates.

        Knowledge is Power. Ignorance is not bliss, it is suffering. If you like hypocrite Obama, you'll love hypocrite Hillary.

        by harris stein on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:19:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Then let the parties pay for the primaries. n/t (0+ / 0-)

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:32:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Senator stick with kissing Israel's ass (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    Senator stick with kissing Israel's ass

  •  Shows That the 3rd Way is the Original Way (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TJ, Brown Thrasher

    rightwing, authoritarian, anti-democratic.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:49:19 PM PDT

  •  The Derp Is Strong In This One (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sunbro, mightymouse

    This sounds like something the late David Broder's beloved "bipartisan team of experts" would have come up with.

  •  As I said on Ian Reifowitz's thread: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    As a career politician of long standing, Sen. Chuck Schumer really ought to know better...
    A "top-two" primary system might not affect Democrats as much in majority- or mostly-Democratic districts, but the notion that a non-partisan primary will keep extreme right-wingers out of political office is, IMO, wishful thinking in the extreme. As I wrote to the NYT, the "polarization" of politics stems from the electorate, not the electoral process: Sen. Schumer seems to have the idea that open primaries will inevitably lead to simple extremist-vs-moderate election choices: in reality, in all too many districts, the "final" ballot choice will more likely end up being between one nutty winger, and an even nuttier winger: how this will help to moderate political "polarization" is beyond me.

  •  We have this system in WA state. (0+ / 0-)

    Have had it for a few years.  Seems to work well; hasn't "ruined voting", at any rate.  And hardly qualifies as a "worst idea ever".

    Yes, there's the possibility of having two people of the same party in the final election.  So what?  And actually, such has been the case for decades in WA for "non-partisan" offices.  For example, I recall an election for Seattle mayor in the early 80s between incumbent Democrat Charles Royer and Democratic challenger Norm Rice.  And so be it, the Republican party is so weak in Seattle that they didn't deserve to be in the final two.  If a party wants a place in the final two, be it the two major parties or the numerous minor parties, then they have a chance to earn it in the primaries by demonstrating they have significant support.

    Lastly, the Constitution doesn't mention parties.  Yet we've adopted a system that is party based, whereby lots of essentially meaningless candidates appear on the final ballot, by virtue of simply being the nominee of some meaningless party.  The two-top system "cleans" that up; I can see arguments on both sides as to whether that "clean up" is for the better or the worse.  But I certainly don't see it as a "worstvevervidea" candidate. ;)    

    •  Only one good thing about the system in WA (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Loge, Simplify, Calamity Jean

      Watching Dino Rossi try to obscure the fact that he was a Republican by listing himself as "Prefers GOP Party" on the ballot was pretty funny. Other than that it's just been pointless nonsense that only makes it harder for voters to figure out where candidates stand.

      •  Oh, please. As I said, WA has had non-partisan (0+ / 0-)

        offices for year, even before adopting the top-two system for partisan offices.  So voters have to educate themselves, big deal.  The candidates list their party anyway, Dino Rossi fooled absolutely nobody.

    •  A group of people that gets together (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      to advance policy goals... that's a political party. To pretend that parties don't exist causes more problems than it solves.

      It's called freedom of association.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:08:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  California was riven by extreme partisanship (5+ / 0-)

    until we voted out the damned republicans.  Since then we've done a near miraculous turnaround.  With all his faults, Jerry Brown is by far the Best Governor in the country.  We lost a lot when he was beaten for the Dem nomination in '92.  This would have been a very different country without the triangulating Clintons.

    "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man..." Robbie Robertson

    by NearlyNormal on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:51:13 PM PDT

  •  Shumer serves Big Money interests (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jrooth

    not the little people.  That is why he favors the CA open primary system because it will help Wall Street and other Big Money interests stock the state Legislatures and Congress with their puppets.

    ...wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows -- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

    by PaganVoter on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:54:01 PM PDT

  •  We switched here in Washington (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify

    Primaries are about the only way left of holding politicians accountable. Of course the pols hate that.

    The power of the Occupy movement is that it ....realizes a fundamental truth about American politics… there is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs.

    by orson on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:55:34 PM PDT

  •  Instant runoff voting (3+ / 0-)

    We already know how to fix these problems: Instant runoff voting

    Instant runoff voting stands the best chance of electing the candidate who is acceptable to the largest portion of the electorate.

    Except what Chuck really wants is for party bosses to have more control over the outcome of elections. Since instant runoff voting might threaten the stranglehold the two major parties have, I can safely predict it will never happen in this country.

  •  Living in a red county and district, (0+ / 0-)

    the top-two system means my choice will always be between the right wing candidate and the far-right wing candidate. And whichever one wins won't represent my views.

    You can change the world, in a tiny way. --Coulton

    by Sonnet on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:16:09 PM PDT

  •  HATE the Top-Two System! (0+ / 0-)

    Keeps the entrenched in power.

  •  top 2 method almost cost CA a Dem in Gen. elec (0+ / 0-)

    for Controller.  And it still might cost us that office as the 2 Dems slug it out during a recount for the second slot.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:27:51 PM PDT

    •  Perez Conceded Last Week (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      So there's no more recount going on, but yes, this could easily have been avoided if we didn't have top 2, especially since there was a while that night it looked like the top 2 was going to be Republicans.  I suspect there will be big pressure next time around to select "the" candidate and we know what that means, especially with a low turnout June election.  

  •  Redistricting broke the CA logjam... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auron renouille, norm, Calamity Jean

    ...not a "top two" voting system.  so Schumer doesn't know what he's talking about.

    Then again, Main would likely not have gotten stuck with LePage had there beena "top two" system in place in that state.

    What would be better would be the instant runorff system, where you get to vote for a fist and a second choice for an office.

    "Democrat" is a noun. "Democratic" is an adjective. "Republican" is an idiot. Illigitimi non carborundum. Regardless of Party. The license plate I want? OMG GOP WTF

    by TheOrchid on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:29:04 PM PDT

  •  From Schumer's point of view (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    this:

    Worse off, the threat of a split ballot means the parties must limit the number of candidates entering the race. So rather than have a clean and honest inter-party debate about who the best nominee is, parties are forced to arm-twist candidates off the ballot. The top-2 limits voter choice, not expands it.
    is a feature, not a bug.

    "Turns out I'm really good at killing people." - President Obama

    by jrooth on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 01:37:44 PM PDT

  •  the elite dems and (0+ / 0-)

    gopers are closely aligned its the rest of america that are out in the cold.

  •  As I have said elsewhere, (0+ / 0-)

    the problem is not primaries (as I originally thought). The problem is districts designed to be non-competitive. Most districts would not change hands even if the incumbent punched a baby on TV. These districts mean that it really doesn't matter if the incumbent Party nominates a loon, because there is no really chance of the said loon losing the general election. Get independent commissions to redistrict and maybe the problem of extremism might decrease. However, the extremism seems to limited to one Party.

    Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

    by Anne Elk on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 02:15:04 PM PDT

  •  I think the biggest flaw in the top-two method (0+ / 0-)

    is that it doesn't take parties into account. Instead of the top two vote-getters facing off in the general, the top vote-getter in the top two parties should face each other.

    This would make for pretty confusing primaries (in a useful way, I believe). In some regions, the primaries would be similar to what they have been in the past, with most voters choosing from within one party; in other regions, it would be a free-for-all, with voters choosing from the whole palette of candidates.

    Either way, the general election would have only two choices, so the winner would always be backed by a majority vote. However, since the candidates would never (by definition) come from the same party, the role of party would continue to be important (which is why middle-of-the-roaders tend to dislike this approach).

    In fact, one would meaningfully vote both for a party and for an individual in each turn of voting. In the party-less top-two system, you would only ever vote for the individual.

  •  I would like to see a single 8-year term (0+ / 0-)

    for POTUS. It would relieve the President from having to start running for re-election the day after taking office, and it would let him/her take a somewhat longer view of problems without having to wonder how it would affect re-election. He/she could perhaps do a little more "presiding". Not all Presidents win re-election, but most do, and it's often sad how some good Presidents have been tossed out simply because they ran out of time. I am thinking of President Carter here.

    Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

    by Anne Elk on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 02:24:11 PM PDT

  •  California had Cross Filing from 1913 ... (0+ / 0-)

    until 1959.  http://en.wikipedia.org/...  Newly elected Democrat Gov. Pat Brown (Jerry's father) helped to get cross-filing abolished.

  •  The REAL 411 on California (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    The REAL reason why California is not as polarized as it used to be:

    We kicked all the friggin' GOP OUT of statewide office. And had a 2/3 hold on both houses of the legislature.
    And I'm VERY concerned we may wind up electing one as the next state controller, because WE couldn't get our act together and nominate only ONE candidate for the primary.

    John Perez (who is seeking a "Gore style" recount) and Betty Yee split most of the Democratic vote, and we ALMOST had a near situation in which the final race in November was TWO REPUBLICANS.

    We MUST do a better job managing the primary process as a party.

    We still have a good chance of holding the office, but the two GOP contenders were out voted by the three Democrats by about 100K votes out of over 4 million cast.

    November will hopefully have more Democrats voting, but there were a LOT of split tickets that voted GOP in this office, because the Democratic edge here is much closer than all the other statewide races, and the GOP contender (Swearingen) has that Stepford-wife glazed-over Bachmann look that some men just LOVE to vote for.

    The controller's office manages the state pension system, so we must do whatever we can to hold on to the office, because a GOPer in that seat can wreck unholy havoc.

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 03:51:12 PM PDT

  •  I love how he briefly mentions that Louisiana (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    Has had Top 2 since the 70s, with no further elaboration. Yeah, let's not dwell on that time that they nominated Grand Wizard David Duke for Governor under that primary system. Or the fact that the Democratic Party is so diminished in LA that in their last statewide election they did not bother fielding a single statewide candidate, from Governor on down.

    They tried to bring it here to AZ in 2012 and we smacked them down. They plan to try again in 2016.

  •  It's a rethug scheme anyway. Designed (0+ / 0-)

    specifically to dilute the Democratic chances in CA. It would probably not work to our advantage in any repug state such as TX, GA or SC as the repugs would vote for anyone other than a Democrat. Even in MS one would have ended up with to Repukelicant candidates.

    And I am Kilrain of the 20th Maine. And I damn all gentlemen. Whose only worth is their father's name And the sweat of a workin' man Steve Earle - Dixieland

    by shigeru on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 05:29:29 PM PDT

  •  Schumer is my Senator (0+ / 0-)

    And when I heard this I wanted to smack some sense into him.

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011) Voting is a louder voice than a bullhorn but sometimes you need that bullhorn to retain your vote.

    by Rosalie907 on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 05:57:09 PM PDT

  •  Yes, Indeedy (0+ / 0-)

    I don't like the idea of an "open primary". I want the people in my party to determine who represents them.

    What I'd like to see, maybe (and states could try this) would be the instant run-off style of elections, where you vote for more than one and the secondary votes count if there's no majority. This is more likely, IMO, to represent the will of the voters. It also allows people who represent somewhat outlying policy to get elected if the majority of the people actually want that.

    So, as an alternative to Schumer's less-than-desirable idea, I'd suggest the instant run-off. Perhaps we should rally around it as the counter-punch. If people actually want a change, at least we could offer a smart change as our alternative.

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