Calif. Voting Change Could Signal Big Political Shift

Under Proposition 14, traditional primaries will be replaced with open elections. It is a system that supporters hoped would spread to other states.

Comments: 39

  1. What the 'big' political parties mean is that this isssue will take money away from them and put in in the hands of those that want to see real change. We seldom see anyone run on and republican or democratic ticket that is not hand picked by a few, in some cases, a single person. Who are you trying to kid!

  2. A number of things are happening at once and this story sums them up nicely. People are disgusted and want change. People also don't quite know what specific change they want. People are sick of both major political parties, but haven't found a reliable alternative.

    The good new is that people want government to work, but simply cannot figure out what it will take to make it work. They tried voting for Obama, with his winning message of Hope and Change. That didn't work out too well.

    The bad news is that our electorate is not well-informed about history and currrent events and aren't inclined to spend the time it would take to educate themselves. As such, they seek easy answers that can be summarized in simple, short slogans. That will, of course, take all those great intentions and instincts and translate them into foolish decisions.

  3. Indeed, money talks evern louder. In the primaries, chances are the two "ultra-whoever" from the opposite sides will come out ahead of the rest. Majority of the voters will then be forced to pick less of the two evils in the general election.

  4. Finally, something sensible in politics.

  5. "Critics of the measure say it will give a huge advantage to candidates who have the most money or the widest name recognition."

    This will be different from the current system how?

  6. In the last century, the "corrupt" boys-in-a-backroom political system gave us two Roosevelts, Wilson, Truman, and Eisenhower. Not one of the presidents who followed even approaches the stature of these men and one is arguably the worst president ever. So we need more democracy? Thanks to television and big money, primary elections have devolved into voting for prom king or queen. I can't even imagine what California will produce now although I'm sure it will be entertaining.

  7. The fact that Prop 14 won in all but the two most extreme counties (Orange and San Francisco) shows that the measure is one "of the moderates, by the moderates, and for the moderates", to coin a paraphrase.

    And the fact that the two biggest criticisms of Prop 14 are contradictory - it will encourage fringe candidates, and marginalize small parties - show that opponents are scraping the bottom of the barrel and running scared from common sense.

  8. Primaries are the one aspect of American elections we Europeans are jealous of. It is through primaries that surprise candidates have a chance of winning (Clinton, Obama) or at least of making an impact (Huckabee, Paul). They allow improbable campaigns to pick up steam and overtake the establishment favorites in a way no other electoral system does. What California will get is what we Europeans already have, an alternation of elites, made even worse by unlimited corporate spending. What a pity. When something works, don't fix it. I sincerely hope that other states will not follow California's example. The marvelous, unpredictable, and thoroughly democratic primary system should be exported, not jettisoned.

  9. If both parties are against it, it is probably good for the country

  10. I don't always agree with what California does. However, in this case I think they are on to something.

    It's time BOTH the republican and democratic parties were put to sleep....PERMANENTLY.

  11. This will result in an historic shift. Having lived in both Northern and Southern CA, the local elections have been dominated by politicians from the extremes. In SoCal, the Republicans consistently elect ultra conservative candidates who have zero influence statewide. In the Bay Area, the Democrats elect progressives who have no understanding of the current problems. At least with Prop 14 we will get a choice of an extremist and not so extreme. And that is crucial to unblocking the logjam in Sacramento.

  12. Why has there been so much remorse over prior initiatives that California has pioneered? It seems they have a reactionary approach to politics and management. They don't like the way something works, so they are not inclined to finetune, but would rather overthrow what exists and experiment with something new. It doesn't work for them and I hope the rest of us are not as immature to do the same.

  13. "What is also certain is that voters liked Proposition 14; it won in 56 of the state’s 58 counties, with the only two detractors coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum: Orange, the conservative bastion in the south, and San Francisco, the liberal paradise in the north. "

    Well, that's certainly symbolic for why we need to empower an independent voice in our political debates. I don't know if this policy in particular will help to do that, but it's certainly worth a shot over the usual game of the two extremes yelling and screaming at each other without listening to each other.

    I am sick and tired of my tax dollars financing the machinations of the fear clubs, Demidonts and Republicants. If the Demidonts and Republicants want seperate primaries, LET THEM PAY FOR IT THEMSELVES.

  15. What? Candidates not picked by party leaders? Outsiders with a real chance of getting elected. Too good to be true immediately comes to mind. Big money will certainly play a central role here but doesn't that happen anyway? Shall we all watch the fun?

  16. Californians are still paying for Prop. 13. Since they can't raise taxes, they balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it--slashing teacher positions, police, fire, EMS, closing parks and historical sites, cutting sports programs in schools. Will this proposition prove as destructive?

  17. Platonic Shadows in Electronic Cave

    Prop 14, together with recent rulings by the Roberts-Scalia court, mean that the Shadow Banking System will now be accompanied by a Shadow Political System in which extreme party factions, oligarchs, libertarian billionaires, global corporations, and foreign powers such as Israel, Dubai, or Switzerland can fund media campaigns and sock puppet candidates from behind an electronic screen.

    It is quite true, as the Times notes, that the consequences are somewhat unpredictable. For a long time now the old party system that arose as a stabilizing force in the 18th century has been giving way to a state system centered on finance and television. Prop 14 formalizes this historic shift into mass delusion. It is fitting that it happened in the state that first began electing actors on a regular basis.

    What is freedom? Freedom is a soft couch. Freedom is what appears on the screen.

  18. The fact that the two major parties, Democratic and Republican, were considering legal challenges to side step the will of the voters indicates the extremes they will go to in order to maintain control of the system. The two parties will still enjoy major advantages under an open system and their candidates will be the most likely to win in elections. However, an open system, does allow "unconnected", politically that is, candidates a real chance at elected office and offers the state in this case, the real opportunity to bring fresh thinking and new blood into the governing process. The voters made a good decision in California. Only the power elite are concerned about open primaries, as they might lose.

  19. The message most Californians sent in Tuesday's election is apathy. Voter turnout was lower than low. This is another reason that the proposition system in California desperately needs reform. A handful of voters (a bare majority of those who voted) can effect far-reaching changes in the law.

  20. Proposition 14 is half baked. A great idea that only addresses half of the problem. Without the other half, its a further downward slide into big money and big celebrities controlling out nation. Look at two candidates in California under the present system. Former CEO of HP and CEO of Ebay, both able to buy their way into nominations and potentially office with their personal funds, big power connections and name recognition. What are the chances they will serve the people of California or the US?

    Prop 14 can only work in conjunction with campaign finance laws that prevent the wealthy and corporations from buying office with their personal, PAC or corporate funds.

    We have been eroding our democracy over the course of our nation's history by turning control of our nation over to the wealthiest with some perverse notion that they are the leaders we most look up to. Let's face it, no American became wealthy serving other Americans. They became wealthy by taking advantage of opportunities and people for their own gain. In private business that is an acceptable motivation, but in public office serving others must be the primary motivation.

  21. Isn't this the primary process that some states used in local elections to limit minority electability and to consolidate one party power?

  22. Ex-CEOs in politics ! Dick Cheney worked out real well. Hope the electorates memory isn't too short.

  23. Preferential voting would be a good addition.

  24. "Big Political Shift?" Hardly. If anything it is revisionist, re-instituting the "beauty contest" (that George W. Bush lost so handily in 2000) or open primary system approved by voters in 1996 (Prop. 198). Let's do a little research before rushing to define a "national trend," perhaps starting with the CA Secretary of State's web site.

  25. A horrendously misguided reform. By reducing the role of political parties, California voters have not ensured the appearance of new ideas and independent thinking - they have guaranteed even worse political deadlock.

    Political parties provide a shortcut wherein consensus among a significant group of officials can be quickly reached, simplifying negotiations. If you have two political parties negotiating, while you grant potential veto power, you also only have one group with whom to come to an agreement. Once you increase either the number of parties or, even worse, the numbers of independents, every issue has to be addressed de novo and the deliberation process will be infinitely more complicated and less open to imposing solutions, especially painful or unpopular ones.

    Like so many other voter initiatives, California voters will long rue their misguided choice here.

  26. Another voting fraud designed for 'dirty tricksters' to wreck havoc on our electoral system.

    The key nonsense in the argument 'For' is that Parties no longer 'pick' the candidates in the Primaries - at least not in CA. The Candidates pick themselves and now, it seems, largely buy the Primary election themselves. If this were not the case, Meg Whitman would not have spent $70M to BUY her gubernatorial 'candidacy'. Nor would Steve Poizner, the more traditional GOP candidate, have spent his own $Millions seeking his own Primary victory. The situation with the GOP Candidates for US Senate was the same. Similar, but less egregious examples, extended through the rest of the Primary Ballot. Few Offices had only 1 Candidate whom I can assure the reporters were NOT picked by either Party.

    I trust one Party or the other will sponsor an counter ballot initiative to reverse this assault on the Electoral System. If this lasts, in so much of the State the voters will be given the choice of only 2 candidates from the same Party, often crazy and crazier.

    3rd Party candidates will no longer stand a snowball's chance, so no choice at all.

    Or, now 2 competing Corporations could launch their own candidates, since they're practically 'People' now. Just pour on the money, and the Public then ends up with the choice of 2 corporate shills without even a 'fig leaf' of separation from their Corporate employer.
    Now is that anti-American or what?

    Perhaps, before the latest re-write of our US Constitution by the Supreme 5, there may have some far-fetched argument for something like this. However, now, the State of CA stands to be hoisted on some numb-nutz's own petard.

    And, in fact, Proposition 14 was authored and pushed by corporate interests. Surprise!!

  27. California continues to come apart at the seams. This only benefits the wealthiest candidates with millions to spend on negative commercials which the voters respond to like salivating dogs. The goal is to have the state and country run by billionaire republicans who fool the masses into thinking this is good for them.

  28. Although nobody really knows whether this will help or hurt, the obvious system is broken. I rather give this system a chance to see whether it works or not then to continue our system that results in corrupt, idea bankrupt, demagogic politicians. We need more ideas from thoughtful people, even if they are proven wrong than to continue with this broken system that allows corporations to run the country. If this new system does not work I will be the first to admit it but also thank Californians for trying.

    Maybe we should also try options like none of the above or write ins or even boycotting elections or other ideas. The right not to vote is as precious as the right to vote. You can abuse anything.

  29. Californians have progressively turned the Golden State into a social-economic-political shambles. Their trend setting turns into a bad trip over a high cliff.

    Why would any rational person want to emulate California's recipe for certain disaster?

  30. We have American Idol to thank for this new twist on democracy.

  31. This is another short-sighted idea that reveals the frustration of many elements of society with the current log-jammed, adversarial system. Given how little time most voters spend on understanding the issues and the platforms or philosophy of candidates who are not aligned with a party, it guarantees further chaos. Tea-party candidates who have been voted in recently do not have a practical, or pro-active stance, but certainly know what they'd destroy. It will be impossible to predict how they'll vote on key issues or if they understand how to promote even their own agendas. My heartfelt sympathies to the state of California.

  32. I voted no on Proposition 14, not because I like gridlock in the Legislature. The approach of Prop 14 removes responsibility for gridlock from elected legislators and creates a superficial solution. What about some rule changes in the way the business of the State is conducted? Oh, I see that’s hard and might put someone’s seat in jeopardy. I lost my head for a minute and expected there to be some for-the-people thinking.

    The key problems are two-fold: money and apathy. The most obvious is that the “top” 2 candidates will just buy their way in. Witness the personal mega spending of Whitman, unaccompanied by any skills or record other than NOT voting and engaging in the public process. Even more troubling is the apathy of the voters, particularly in a primary. Under this proposition, the primary becomes more like a general election with an extremely small turnout. The low information (or apathetic) voter is the norm, not only in California but in the country. Last summer, screaming and spitting at cameras and candidates while shouting “Government takeover”, citizens collecting Social Security, unemployment, Medicare made showing your posterior an American pastime.
    Let’s find our moral compass as a country and be willing to do a little hard work – like reading a bit on the issues?

  33. Another gimmick proposition piled on top of the dozen other gimmick propositions California always votes for instead of dealing with it's real issues. At what point will they realize these gimmicks ALWAYS benefit big entrenched business interests over everybody else?

    MORE moderate candidates? MORE like candidates MORE beholden to Big Agriculture companies that want to take MORE fresh water and dump MORE pesticides and MORE fertilizer. In the meantime California closes MORE schools and MORE parks and MORE hospitals.

  34. The only thing that can be said is, everyone should hope it does not turn out like prop 13. Local governments around the country loss huge amounts of revenue under that tax referendum and the only difference was new fees emerged for things we never had to pay for before. There is alot to be saiid for the top two vote getters going head to head regardless of party as it really is the peoples choice. With that said campaign finance reform to make the elections fair

    thomas mcmahon
    millis ma

  35. .28.scrumbleChicagoJune 10th, 201010:07 amCalifornia continues to come apart at the seams. This only benefits the wealthiest candidates with millions to spend on negative commercials which the voters respond to like salivating dogs. The goal is to have the state and country run by billionaire republicans who fool the masses into thinking this is good for them.


    I think the DEMOCRATS in South Carolina just blew your theory right out of the water.

    We the people are taking back OUR country from the LIBERAL left wing nuts.

  36. Unfortunately, Californians often do things they think will bring about a seismic shift, only to have "misunderestimated" the likely results. What seems like ages ago, Californians decided they wanted to cap property taxes. The result: massive, intractable budget deficits that have doomed governorships since it passed, including those of recall victim Gray Davis and now hamstrung Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    But what if this so-called "brilliant idea" was rolled out nationally: kiss your Rand Paul bye-bye, Kentucky. The two DEMOCRATIC candidates in the Kentucky race pulled in more votes than Tea Party show pony Rand Paul. He'd be strutting his stuff on the sidelines.

    An open primary, top two win system won't necessarily bring the best candidates to the general election. It won't bring moderates out. It's not a fix to what really ails us: an ignorant (meaning they ignore they substantive issues), shallow (meaning they are swayed by bright lights and sound bites), uninformed, undereducated and lazy electorate. Why not take it all the way and go to straw polls, beauty pageants and bean jars? Why not have the candidates parade about in bikinis?

    Voters need to realize civics and doing your civic duty is hard work. Stop looking for shortcuts, instant "fixes and the "easy" way out.

  37. Wow -- what a boon to Facebook and Youtube and Twitter -- now campaingns will go viral, we'll get a couple hundred characters defining some candidate based on our social networking history and all those with an opinion to post will make their rant and think they've done their duty to American values.

    And, lest we forget to look at how well Prop 13 worked -- ordinary people see property tax increases when they buy a new house but ordinary corporations do not, because they tend to hold onto their property and just rename themselves if necessary to improve their business position. That means the Roberts' Courts newly defined *people* pay lower or no taxes to support the services -- like highways and bridges, sewage and water systems and these *people* import better educated world citizens to do their engineering etc, because schools in California are supported mainly by residential property taxes -- and, of course, the lottery.

    Finally, why does no one mention that among those celebrated founding fathers were of democracy there were no women, no people of color, and no poor folks -- if you didn't own property you couldn't vote or hold office.

  38. I agree with other commenters who argue that the current system has generally produced the candidates at the extreme ends of the political spectrum in each party. I would also like to point out that with the sophisticated gerrymandering techniques that both parties have used, Congressional districts are already heavy skewed in favor of one party election or the other, so maybe this "top two" candidates option will improve the chances for moderates to win in House races, too. Congress is already so dysfunctional, that this change may improve things--how could it get any worse?

  39. Yet more proof Cali is the most socially inept state in America (well, tied with Florida and Texas).

    Why not just let anyone who wants to run for office just put their name on the ballot, duplicating the asylum/circus recall election of 2004? Where is the logic of even having 'primaries' at all? Why not simply eliminate them altogether and have a single winner take all ballot? The ultimate effect of this idiocy is that persons who diametrically oppose a political parties positions can now determine who their candidates will be - or deny them a place on the ballot at all. Believe me, the minute the frui(Tea) Partiers realize that liberal Dems will be able to shoot down their choosen torchbearers this idea will go the way of the dodo bird.