In my latest post at WNYC’s Its a Free Country, I outline what I saw as ten of the most important developments from last year for those of us in the center of the electorate. I talked about three positive developments, including the launch of No Labels, three negative developments, such as the loss of so many moderates in the last election, and three mixed developments:
7 ) California’s Prop 14: Open Primaries great — “Top Two” terrible
It is fantastic that California passed a law, with the support of New York City’s very own IndependentVoting.org, that now allows everyone to vote for whoever they want in primaries, no matter what party they register with (or lack there of). But while independent groups have been railing on the two major parties for using their power to make it harder for independents to get equal access in our elections, the “Top Two” part of the bill does that very same thing to minor parties that independents have found common cause with over the years on pushing for open primaries.
IndependendentVoting.org does some great work in other areas, but their hypocrisy on this issue has been disturbing to many of us who watch developments in election law across the country. They should pull the wool from their eyes and see how much truely open primaries have helped their close ally (who they literally share an office with), the Independence Party of New York. If they do not, they will be seen as just another partisan group that will use their power to game the system to their advantage, rather than work to make it more open.
8 ) The Tax & Unemployment Deal
It was great that the two major parties sat down and got something done, but neither budged or paid for the core of what they wanted. The Democrats got their unemployment extension without paying for any of it, and the Republicans got their tax extension without making any cuts. Both should have had to pay for at least some of their proposals by finding cuts elsewhere and/or perhaps by using unspent stimulus money. If we are lucky, the split government will force more cooperation over the next year, but cooperation is not compromise. As well all know, the two major parties are just as likely, if not more so, to cooperate on recklessly charging their priorities to the national credit card, selfishly passing the buck to our kids, rather than beginning to spend within our means.
9 ) Eliot Cutler and Lincoln Chafee
Eliot Cutler, an independent running for Governor in Maine, would have been a excellent governor. His campaign was rallying in the last few weeks of the election, resulting in an extremely narrow loss. On the up side, Lincoln Chafee, independent running for Governor in Rhode Island, won his election. The former moderate Republican joins the ranks of Michael Bloomberg as former moderate members of the major parties who moderates and centrist independents can look to for national leadership in coming years. Much less reported was the fact that more independents ran for office in downticket races than any time in three generations—yet another indication of cracks forming in the two party system. Expect more of this in the next cycle.
I also spoke of the “Game Changer of the Year”, the President’s Fiscal Commission.
Do you think something else should have made the list? Thoughts?