Thursday, June 24, 2010

Closed primaries = subversion + dead rabbits

Freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free. Utah Phillips
So I came across this op-ed in the small local paper here in Davis County Utah written by the editor Rolf Koecher on the topics of open primaries and the dysfunction of a 2 party duopoly. Mr. Koecher articulated the 2 party shrinking tent problem in a way that I have not been able to, though his concern is directed primarily at the Utah Republican Party.

"I took advantage of early voting last week. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the candidate I wanted in the race for U.S. Senate. And neither could the majority of Utah voters. Utah there has been a concerted, and noticeable, effort to circumvent the voters. And whenever the Clipper has challenged actions by the Legislature or by city officials in Davis County, it has ultimately hinged on this key issue...we are troubled when efforts are made to keep the ultimate decision making from the voters. 
Ironically, that means the party that fancies itself as the protector of the Constitution is in itself subverting this document when it 
(a) sanitizes the process by making sure voters only get to select from hand-picked and approved candidates, and 
(b) tries to do everything in its power to keep citizen-drive initiatives from reaching the ballot box.... 
Some of the world’s most despotic dictators have done the same, keeping themselves in power by offering only sanitized slates of candidates at the ballot box, making sure the public does not get a meaningful choice." wrote Mr. Koecher.

My first afterthoughts were "yes, that is exactly right. The two parties ardently pressing for, in most cases some positive policies, but in being so suspicious of opposition, closed and exclusive as a means to their ideological ends, are subverting the constitution they are loving----------to death." The immediate literary connection I made was Lennie from Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and the poor loved to death rabbits.

Our constitution is a framework for a government by and for the people. The parties are suffocating symbolic rabbits day in and day out.

But what about us? There are two conditions that can handily subvert our ingenius by and for the people system of government. The first and most obvious and most discussed is the 2 party small and shrinking tent syndrome. The other toxic dose is administered by We the People when we allow it to happen, when we don't get involved. It happens when we don't get active, when we don't talk about it with associates, when we do not write letters to the editor, and when we do not connect with neighbors with similar concerns. In short, it happens when a government by and for the people doesn't govern.

I cringe when I hear lamentations that government is too big. That suspicious perception has missed the point entirely. Sure, our bureaucracies are a bit unwieldy, but until every eligible voter is involved to at least some small extent, our government is not big enough.

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