Monday, October 22, 2007

Time to Graduate

Mike Garibaldi Frick over at The Huffington Post thinks it's time we eliminate the Electoral College:
There is no use for the archaic Electoral system in our modern, mass communication driven, interconnected world. U.S. citizens think and vote on a more regional and national level now. It's time to elect the President and Vice President of the United States by direct, popular vote. Or, at least, alter the way electoral votes are delegated.

I couldn't agree more. In We the Purple, I let my fairly strong opinions on the matter be known to one and all. It's antiquated, it's ill-suited for today's society, and it's downright bizarre. Clear enough?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Read and Recoil

Back when I was in a controlling, legalistic, our-way-is-the-only-way church, guilt by association was a typical charge made against wayward members like me. We were branded as drunkards if we went out to lunch with co-workers who partook of the occasional adult beverage. Hanging out with "unbelievers" (quotes very intentional) threatened the future of our eternal souls. And befriending a homosexual? Heaven forfend! We would surely begin to look with lust upon every member of our own gender.

This is the kind of stuff that drove many of us from many a church, and it's also the kind of stuff that is driving many of us from many a political party. It's downright embarrassing to associate with people who cast aspersions on others just because of the people they associate with. (Those "aspersions" exist only in the eyes of those doing the casting, of course; their intention is to slander others even though those others haven't done anything worthy of slander.) Dave Schraub of The Debate Link is among those who gets it; he fully understands that aspect of politically independent thinking (or "independentism," my newly coined shorthand):

Elsewhere in Virginia, Republican leaders have been scrambling to handle two rogue lawmakers in their caucus who are accusing the state Democrats of ties to terrorism because of their relationship with some local Muslim community organizations. It's a low political slam, and one most observers think will backfire, but also the type of attack that resonates with the die-hards. The folks who come out to vote in Republican primaries eat that stuff up, but the independent voters who are becoming more and more important in Virginia read that sort of thing and just recoil.
Read and recoil for sure. I'd like to believe that some of the folks who vote in Republican primaries also recoil at that kind of behavior, which insults the intelligence of voters, embarrasses many of the party faithful, says God knows what about Democrats and Muslim community organizations, and smacks of McCarthyism to boot. Rogue lawmakers, indeed. The kind who need to get the boot themselves.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Get It Straight by 2008

Not much time to blog tonight, but I want to make sure you all know about the effort by Common Cause to unblock the Holt bill, which would require that a paper trail back up each and every electronic vote in the 2008 presidential election. As you may recall, thousands of votes were lost in 2006 due to voting-machine malfunction. The effort is called Get It Straight by 2008. This is a genuinely nonpartisan effort---one that we all can get behind. Common Cause is doing the heavy lifting on this; they're just asking for our support.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Why Independents Need to Vote*

Being as far behind on my blog-reading as I am, I managed to miss this gem from Art Clarke, a.k.a. The Man Behind Running Naked, which he posted last month.

*First, I must issue a disclaimer: I believe that everyone has the right not to vote. In my younger years I would sit out the occasional election because I could not bring myself to vote for a so-so candidate only to make a statement against a candidate I really, really didn't like at all. And I sat out elections because participating made me feel corrupt.

These days, though, I do vote, and Clarke makes a convincing argument for why independents should continue:
If you are a Purple Voter, always vote in every primary election! Especially the small ones...

You might not think it matters, but the people we vote for in primaries are very influential. They choose the rosters of candidates that we’re presented with for many higher offices. They form the staff of national campaigns. They are listened to by the national parties when drafting policies, candidates and platforms.

Somehow in America many purple voters (like me) believe that if the candidate they voted for didn’t win then their vote didn’t count. And often in primary elections today, the middle ground (purple) candidate loses. But our votes do matter; politics, like business, runs on a market economy. Only in politics, votes are the currency. The mere fact that someone got our vote will cause other politicians to veer in our direction to try to woo us the next time we spend our vote (see how John Kerry veered left in 2004 to try to recapture the voters that went for Nader in 2000).

Good advice, especially for independents who are less politically active and think that primaries or local elections don't count for much. If you think your vote counts only if your candidate wins, you probably don't have much incentive to cast a ballot for someone unlikely to win, like an independent or third-party candidate. But as Clarke points out, the major-party candidates are starting to pay attention to our voting habits. Maybe your vote is doing nothing more than sending a message, but Washington is starting to get that message.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dream On

Though sometimes I sound as if I can, I know I can't speak for all independent voters. Honest. So let's just say that I think I can speak for some of the independent voters I know personally, the ones that have let their opinions be known. And I can assure you that they got a major chuckle out of this snippet from an article yesterday in The New York Times about New Hampshire independents:

Advisers to Mrs. Clinton said they viewed the wave of independent voters as the single biggest obstacle to her winning a state where she routinely draws big crowds and where polls otherwise show her running strong...

Her state campaign manager, Nick Clemons, said that in the end a substantial number of independents would rally around Mrs. Clinton.

Maybe Mr. Clemons, as the Times would call him, is right. Maybe independents in New Hampshire will take leave of their senses and suddenly support the candidate who best represents politics as usual in D.C. Maybe they will forgive said candidate for virtually ignoring a question about independent voters' rights during at a campaign event---in New Hampshire, no less. Maybe they'll also overlook her ongoing disdain for independent and third-party candidates and voters.

Maybe I'm wrong this time. Maybe, as Mr. Clemons later implied, independents want change so much that they'll naturally vote for the Democratic nominee, which he has decided will be Hillary Clinton.

Let me know what you think: Will independents rally 'round an anti-independent candidate? I think you can tell what I think.