The Closet Moderate: Welcome to the Jungle!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Welcome to the Jungle!

For all you closet moderates out there, there's been some good news out of California. Normally, when a rightist says "good news out of California" he means it has finally slid into the ocean, and when a leftist says "good news out of California" he means there have been new advances in the technology of smoking weed, but when a moderate says it, take notice. In the sausage factory that is the California budget process, among the insider wheeling and dealing has emerged a solution, not only to their 2009 budget impasse, but also to the ridiculous condition of state and national legislatures in a two-party state. In exchange for going along with the Democrats' budget, State Senator Abel Maldonado has gotten the Dems to promise to put his jungle primary bill on the ballot.

The jungle primary, often called the "non-partisan blanket primary" by prosaic nerds, requires that all candidates to run in a single primary, with the top two advancing to the general election, regardless of party. Nate Silver's site explains the math better than I could (I took "Math and Society" for my distribution requirement in college) but the result of such voting systems tends to be a race between two candidates who reflect the middle of the community's political spectrum, rather than forcing voters to choose between a rightist militiaman and a leftist libertine. It also occasionally allows a third-party or independent candidate to sneak into the mix.

Needless to say, both major parties hate the idea. Shockingly, California's much-manipulated and much-maligned (by me) initiative and referendum system might be the way to get this measure passed. This is actually the sort of thing the Progressive* authors of California's constitution meant to happen, as opposed to all the absurd shit that usually finds it's way onto the ballot.

Needless to say, the Closet Moderate will follow these developments closely, and hope that California might lead the way into a moderate, mushy-centered tomorrow.

*By "Progressive," I mean the Progressive movement of the 1910s and 20s, not the modern-day synonym for leftist.

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