Land Of The Free?

Hello dear reader(s)!

As I type this, I am learning of widespread voter suppression in New York.  In fact, 126,000 people may have been identified as having been purged from roles or had their party affiliations changed without their consent.  Because New York is a closed primary, it means that only those registered as being part of the major party can participate in the primary and vote for one of the candidates.  This will of course give an advantage to the establishment candidate even without any tricks, but can be made up by an insurgent candidate capable of generating significant enthusiasm.  

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That insurgent candidate capable of generating sufficient enthusiasm.

So let’s say you are an establishment politician.  Perhaps you are a politician who regularly takes money from lobbyists.  Perhaps you use Super PAC’s to help raise funds and maintain your hold on power in future elections.  And a candidate who generates sufficient enthusiasm to run a strong race comes along and threatens to take that system away?  What are you do to?

Well, the good news, is that your party likely has a stranglehold on running the elections.  If it doesn’t, the establishment of the other party (who also has a vested interest in the status quo) does.  So even though your media pressure, ground game, and corporate funding can’t seem to break the momentum of the insurgent candidate, all hope is not lost.

You can simply prevent anyone who you think is unlikely to vote for your candidate of choice from voting at all.

But how?

Well, Establishment Politician, you could start by looking at timing.  New registration shortly before the deadline?  Why haven’t they voted for your party all along?  There must be someone different, bringing them into the process.  Your candidate has been known for a long time.  It is a safe bet that voter will go for someone else.  Purge.

That voter happens to be young?  Well, your candidate gets absolutely crushed with younger voters.  Purge.  Sure, doing this may eliminate one or two people from voting for your candidate, but it is a small price to pay when taking away thousands of votes for the outsider.

And of course, you can look at where that voter resides.  Brooklyn?  Did you see how many people were at the other candidate’s Brooklyn rallies?  Hell, HE’S from Brooklyn.  You sure as hell can’t let those people vote.

“President’s are selected, not elected.” – FDR

This is the sad fact of our Republic.  With the lock on the process, media, and funds enjoyed by the two major parties, a third party candidacy will not be viable without major reforms.  Reforms the establishment will not accept.  It is why Bernie Sanders (an Independent who caucuses and votes with Democrats) felt he had to run as a Democrat.  It is why Donald Trump is running as a Republican.  Neither one will be the nominee.  The Republican party will stop Trump at the convention on a later ballot thanks to the average voters of entire states not being given a say, and the Democrats will stop Sanders with closed primary voter purges, super delegates, and party controlled media.

When the establishment tells you that the rules are the rules, remember that we have already changed many of the rules surrounding voting.  If we didn’t, we sure as hell wouldn’t have a black President, and a female candidate.  They wouldn’t have even been able to vote.  The rules are the rules is not an acceptable answer, and never has been.

When the candidate in the Democratic Party hides behind the rules being the rules, she cannot claim she is a progressive.  Progressives make progress.  They fight unjust rules.  They do not use them to their favor.  A desire to keep things the same fits another political philosophy.  Conservatism.

Alas, it is all but academic at this point.  The establishment will win.  They will disenfranchise another generation of voters.  Ensuring that anyone who wants to change the system in the future will be so disheartened that they simply no longer bother.  70% of the the nation will continue to stay home on election day.  The nation will be in the hands of a few, and that is exactly what they want.

“If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” – Mark Twain

Unless…

Unless we can somehow pry control of elections from the political parties.  Unless we can somehow prevent the parties from being the only vehicle available to field a viable candidate.  Unless we can show the parties we will still stay engaged and involved, even if we have to do it outside the voting booth.

Roughly 30% of the Republican party and roughly 50% of Democrats are going to be pretty pissed off at the establishment after this primary season is over.  Despite the fact we are opposed on many, many issues in major and fundamental ways, we do have a few things in common that all stem from a desire to bring the power to the people.  Even Donald Trump acknowledges our disgust over the corrupting sale of our government.

So I have a request for the supporters of Donald Trump.  Let’s put our animosity aside.  When both our candidates get screwed out of the respective nomination by the power brokers, let’s team up just to take those power brokers down.  Massive protests (like your candidate’s surrogate advocated for in Cleveland), our massive protests (which you all claim are paid for unless it’s for your guy), voting for anybody who is not party affiliated, and other means of forcing those in power to vote for measures that would change elections to a single standard, would change rules to allow voters to have the say in who is a party’s candidate, and other legislation that could help take the duopoly of the system away.

And after we have an even playing field, we can get back to hating each other’s policy ideas like civilized adults.

If this is allowed to continue, our Republic is about as much of a Republic as the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.

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Author: Josh Wrenn

Cancer survivor, wanna-be artist, musician, author, and all around good guy.

8 thoughts on “Land Of The Free?”

  1. Josh. I feel your pain but I have to respectfully (always) disagree on some points. Being a New Yorker we have had a closed primary system for as long as I recall. Nothing new. The idea is simple. Since the political parties are voluntary associations only members get to vote. To me that makes sense. I was a Green Party member for a few years. When the GOP started going nuts (Bush) I changed to the Dem party because I wanted a voice . Why should non party members be allowed to choose a candidate for a party?
    In NY you have to be registered pretty early for a party, that is true. You can only change your party registration one election previous (one year) . This is so you cannot get intentionally screw up the other party’s primary by voting for the weakest candidate. It happens.

    If you go the the polls and you are not on the voting list you and you think you should be on it you can fill in an affidavit ballot. The Board of Elections is required to take that ballot and search their voting rolls to see if they erred. If they don’t find you they are required to notify you and send you a voter registration form so you can register . If they find you then they count your vote. That is the law.

    I know that between 80,000-120,000 potential voters were taken off the rolls in Brooklyn. The question is, I suppose, how many of those people actually showed up wanting to vote and had to fill in affidavits?

    In NY young people have no excuse for not voting. As a teacher (over 32 years) of Government I registered EVERY senior in my school every year, right in class. (I registered probably about 2,000 voters) .The Board of Elections sent me ballots, we filled them out together so I made sure there were no clerical errors, and sent them in. Unlike some states (you know which ones) that discourage voter registration, New York is the opposite. They do everything they can to get people involved. Teachers register them. Various public markets, etc, set up booths. The League of Women Voter’s have drives. College campuses have voting drives. If you want to register the opportunity is there.

    Trump may be getting screwed because he does have more popular votes. But Sanders can’t complain. He is getting plenty of votes, but Clinton is getting many more . It would be different if Bernie were leading in the popular vote. Then he might have a case. I don’t see Clinton as having done anything illegal or underhanded. As a longtime member of the party she just has more support.
    Anyway, that’s my take.

    Like

    1. If the parties didn’t have the only chance of fielding a viable candidate, I would agree they have the right to a closed primary. A non-party candidate has a much more difficult time even making it onto ballots. They run the game, and the elections. The campaign finance network makes a Green party candidate a pipe dream, or any other, regardless of quality. As such, they serve as de facto government institutions and voting should be open to all. (Dolan v King County is just one example of the legal principle making private organizations de facto public ones if they do the same work and are directed by the public (the election boards, attorneys general, etc… in this case, so my opinion is not a stretch, although definitely not related in occupation)). Furthermore, the argument that it has been that way for years is a conservative one. It was used to deny women the vote, people of color, and anyone who didn’t own land. The way it has been for years is simply not an argument for those who wish to pretend that the people have a say. If the parties want to appoint their candidates, they should dispense with the primary game altogether and just appoint them. At least then we know we’d live something other than a truly democratic republic.
      And when you consider that the demographics of anyone purged were late deciders (who tend to go for Sanders), people in Brooklyn who very well could have supported their neighborhood’s son, and of course the many who switched before the deadline to vote for Sanders (once again, demographics matter), it is not hard to argue suppression. In Arizona that happened as well. With the people who could have voted for Sanders allowed to vote for Sanders, is that popular vote lead still as high? If the DNC had scheduled more debates on nights with better ratings, would that lead hold? If the media had covered Sanders when he was drawing crowds of tens of thousands in the early stages, would he be in the lead? And if the actual progressive states (Washington anyone?) got proper weighting in the calendar, would it have changed?

      I don’t know. She might still have won. But that doesn’t change the fact that she has been chosen from the start by the party, and the party is ignoring the progressives who actually keep their stated consistently blue for the favor of blue dogs and third way democrats who can’t even support their President on his initial plans and who can’t be bothered to show up in the mid-terms.

      The only non-red states she has won are closed. That should be telling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Josh. You bring up some good points. I agree with some but not all. I can speak specifically about NY politics. Like most states, pretty corrupt. We have a long history of the Dems and GOP using the law (which they make) to keep third parties at bay. Nevertheless, we have quite few third parties on the ballot (Green, Working Families, Conservative, American Independent, Liberal and others). Thee almost never have primaries because people are seldom challenged for leadership roles. I agree with you that the GOP-Dem parties pretty much control things.

        There is nothing preventing anyone from joining the Dem or GOP. Those are open organizations. (Although NY state forces you to make a decision long before the next election). They are voluntary associations. And that is the crux of my belief in a “closed” primary system. Being a member of a party has some meaning. If anyone can vote for the leaders in a voluntary association then the party has no control over its own organization. What you seem to be saying is that every person should have the right to vote in any primary even though they have no commitment to that party. That is a legitimate position. I just don’t agree with it. I think it defeats the purpose of having a political party. Voter suppression occurs when a person has a right to vote and is prevented from doing so. In NY, you don’t have a right to vote in a primary unless you are a member of the political party. So, that is not voter suppression.

        The Voting roll problems in Brooklyn should be thoroughly investigated. I agree with you on that point. In my experience in NY I have never seen any intentional attempts to keep people from voting. So, I think that whatever happened was a bureaucratic error. But we need to find out.People on voting rolls are often no longer in the area. For example, I have been on the voting rolls in Michigan, Oregon, at least 6 different districts in NY. Since there is no system to remove a person who has moved it is quite possible that I am still on the rolls in many districts. In a major city like Brooklyn there are probably hundreds of thousands of people on the rolls in the districts who have long ago moved. The real issue in Brooklyn is this. How many people were forced to submit affidavits because they wanted to vote but were not on the rolls.? That needs to be investigated.

        You raise an interesting point about whether the parties should bother with primaries at all. The primary system did not become important until after the 1970s. Before that party leaders in each state got together and decided who they wanted. There was no voting by the people. The results were mixed. But the parties did provide such presidents as Lincoln, TR, FDR, Ike, JFK and LBJ. At the same time it gave us Hoover, Taft and Coolidge. A mixed result, but not all bad.

        Finally, you correctly point out that Sanders did better in “open” primary states and Clinton did better in “closed” primary states. Why is that? I can think of a few reasons.
        1. More independents support Sanders so he pulled in independent voters in open primaries.
        2. More Republicans hate Clinton and think Sanders would be a weaker candidates so they jumped parties to vote against Clinton.
        3. Party regulars are more familiar with Clinton’s long time battle with the GOP over liberal issues and think she deserves the leadership role based on that long service. They see Sanders as a “johnny-come-lately” who still identifies himself as an “Independent” and not a “real” Democrat.
        Or maybe a combination of all three.

        So, we can agree to disagree on the fundamental functions of the political parties in our system. Today, the system is what it is. I am sure it will evolve , as it has, if enough people want it to evolve.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As someone who lived in NYC 10 years and voted in every election regardless of party assignment I agree something stinks. More than one friend reported to me having to complete an affidavit ballot because their party was changed or in dispute when it wasn’t the cycle or several
    Cycles prior and they didn’t change it. This degree of suppression is deeply alarming. Even though I live in PA next week and have not changed affiliations in the over 5 years I’ve lived here I have a bit of trepidation of their being an issue when I go to vote just because I’ve seen it happen in one too many states –
    Regardless of party or candidate people having their right to vote tampered with deeply concerns me.

    Liked by 1 person

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