Friday, October 12, 2007

Limited Choices: Two Party System & Ballot Access

I once read an article on the wisdom of Celeborn. This from a man who was a Tolkien fanatic, so let me explain for those of you who aren't. If you saw the movies and didn't read the book, or read the book a long time ago, you may not remember who Celeborn is (pronounced with a 'k' sound at the beginning). After the Mines of Moria, Frodo and Fellowship take refuge in a forest filled with elves led by a Lord and Lady. The Lady, possessor of one of only three elven rings, and heir to the high elven kingdom on middle earth, sort of takes the spotlight. But her husband, Celeborn, is described as "the wise," and he even has some lines. In the book it is he who provides the boats by which the Fellowship eventually travels downriver to Rauros.

The article was in defense of his wisdom, which is not immediately apparent. First of all, referring to him as "the wise" gives he impression of a back history not very relevant to the Lord of the Rings, similar to talking about the cats of Queen Beruthiel, or something sad about a blue-stoned brooch Tom Bombadil found. Secondly, as the author of the article noted, Celeborn's wisdom was subtle and very elf-like. He would not tell the Fellowship what to do, but he still limited their choices to two by sending them out of his country on a boat "When Aragorn reveals that he has not decided which way the Fellowship will go, Celeborn buys him a little time by giving the Fellowship a few boats. The boats allow Aragorn to keep his options open. But they also speed the group on their way toward the inevitable choices they must make. Aragorn doesn't realize that, since he loses track of how fast they proceed down river."

What I want to know is who is the Celeborn in America? How do our presidential candidates get reduced to two whereafter we're sped on our way toward election? Doesn't our system seem a bit broken when with all the diversity of the fifty states and their residents, when we go to cast our ballot on election day, there are two or three choices?

Celeborn in a way represents our two party system, which employs presidential primaries and nominations to patiently ensure that the country is floating in the general direction of Celeborn's choice. In case you couldn't tell, I'm a little frustrated. The primary process, which will eliminate about eight Republican candidates from the presidential race about four months from now, leaves the voters in two or three states to make the decisions. The remaining 47 states are like the Fellowship in Lord of the Rings: left with two choices and usually a pragmatic philosophy of choosing the lesser of two evils. Kansas has for 15 years recognized the ridiculousness of the situation and chosen not to waste money even holding a primary. In my circle we make a certain point by posing two questions: "Should we have prayer in public schools? Wait - should we have public schools?" In this case rather than asking me, "Are you voting Democrat or Republican," maybe you should ask, "Wait - should we have only two choices?"

Wikipedia provides the following insight into what we call ballot access: "...but until the 1880s paper ballots were not officially designed and printed by the government but were instead privately produced "tickets" that were distributed (usually by political parties) to the voter, who would take the ticket to the polling place and deposit it in the ballot box. The 1880s reform movement that led to officially designed secret ballots had some salutary effects, but it also gave the government control over who could be on the ballot. As historian Peter Argersinger has pointed out, the reform that conferred power on officials to regulate who may be on the ballot carried with it the danger that this power would be abused by officialdom and that legislatures controlled by the established political parties (specifically, the Republican and Democratic Parties), would enact restrictive ballot access laws to influence election outcomes, for partisan purposes, in order to ensure re-election of their own party's candidates." (emphasis mine)

Before you assume I'm a nut who has no understanding of world politics, let me say that I understand why the two party system is in place. Say we have ten candidates, and eight are more or less conservative. There are variances in policy or experience or eloquence, which would be preferred in a free election. Responsible, thoughtful voters could then, rather than choosing the lesser of two evils, choose the greater of eight goods (if you think this is what happens in the primary, reread the last two paragraphs). On election day the persuaded men cast well-considered votes for the best candidate...

...and one of the two liberal, socialist, weak-defense, anti-life candidates wins.

How did this happen? Quite simple, really. A majority of those who vote for liberals are weak-minded people who preferred to be told whom to vote for, who voted for the candidate who promised them the most, or who told the most lies about the other candidate. Those telling them for whom to vote liked power, so they consolidated their efforts and threw all their support behind one candidate.

(In a two party system there is a war over the middle voters, and as long as a large portion of American voters continue to be educated and use common sense, the conservative candidate has a chance. The Democrats are shocked when the vote falls in Republican favor, but all the blustering in the world won't change the facts.)

Let me ask you. In the ten-candidate scenario given above, who is being represented in the outcome? Is it the mass will of the American people? No, a few power-hungry liberal thinkers chose the winner by effectively brainwashing their constituents. In the primary-decided two party system, whose values and choices are being represented? Even if the 47 states wanted to rebel against the decisions of the first few, the candidates don't campaign here much at all, and the ones who can afford to campaign nation wide are the only ones with any name recognition. So in that case the man with the most money wins.

For me, if I did a grass roots door to door campaign for my candidate of choice (Huckabee), that still wouldn't help him get elected, because I live in Colorado, and our state isn't important in presidential primaries. The only thing a concerned citizen in my state can do is contribute money, which I don't have. At least that's the message I'm getting from conservative media. So out here in my state the reason for campaigning is for the Republicans to prevent as many conservatives as possible from following Colorado Springs' outspoken family values voice, Dr. Dobson. They try to reconcile us to the candidate already chosen by the powerful in the party.

The Federalist Papers (paper 10) discuss the party-system, and advocate a multi-party or non-partisan system (which is how the first administration was conducted). The writers of the Federalist Papers were also writers of the Constitution, so their observations inform us of the original intent of the supreme law of the land, which has very frequently been amended to its detriment or outright ignored.

What can be done?

  1. Change the primaries to all be on one day. This may require a constitutional amendment because according the the US Constitution individual states are allowed to select electors (delegates to the Electoral College) in whatever manner they choose. In fact, the federal constitution does not guarantee individual citizens the right to vote for the president at all. Thus the silliness over the popular vote vs. electoral college protest.

  2. Remove ballot access laws. They prevent free republicanism and entrench existing political parties, which tend naturally to move toward the center of popular ideas (democracy=mob rule vs. republicanism) in order to acquire votes. In this way original parties abandon the values of their constituents to stay in power, and move towards a one or dominant party system.

  3. Educate the public. The less stupid people, the less people can be manipulated by liberal powers and socialistic promises. Smarter voters even make for more conservative candidates across the board.

  4. Pray. Fundamentally our republic is collapsing because it has abandoned God. Numerous founding fathers predicted this consequence.

To God be all glory.

No comments: