Inspection- The Independent Convention: A Proposal

by Ken Carman

 Every four years we suffer from the same #%$! two party primaries, the same two party caucuses, the same two party conventions.
Inspection I am no fan of conventions. My wife’s parents were on the other side of the political equation. The first time we visited during convention time we were warned not to watch “our” convention. But after I stated I would never watch either convention; likening them both to big, silly, parties for big kids who never grew up, it was no longer an issue. I didn’t add that they’re pointless: who wins; no matter which party, has pretty much been fixed before each convention since before I was born.
 But, if we must have them…
 Why can’t we have an Independent Convention, primaries and caucuses? I know many of the small fry parties have their own conventions, but that’s not what I mean. Having so many small parties is ineffectual, will change nothing. Why not have candidates from many small parties compete in the same primaries, caucuses and one convention: the most popular independent candidates get to compete in a bigger way in November on a more equal basis.
 He, or she, who gets the most votes in the primaries and caucuses becomes the presidential candidate.
 He, or she, who gets the most votes in the primaries and caucuses becomes the vice presidential candidate.
 If by chance they win the big race they create a coalition executive team that respects the wishes of both the president and the vice president. They compromise as much as might be necessary to make that possible. This would be written into every platform.
 Next election the VP, and the president, could run against each other pre-convention if unhappy with how those compromises turned out.
 I admit: what I just suggested is not my actual preference. My preference is, and always has been, run off voting with public financing, limited electioneering time, public TV and radio hosting the only debates and public statements of policy proposals. No more special interest group crud. No more money equals speech, or corporations posing as people then buying candidates. Public Broadcasting does all this in exchange for full funding. Offer free flyers for those who want them placed in public places. Let he, or she, who wants to learn about who is running take extra, necessary, steps to find out about the candidates.
 You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it: none of that is going to happen. Neither party would allow it, almost no one in Congress would vote for it. Like providing a “none of the above” option on all elections. Good luck getting that passed too.
 So, instead, I suggest we do a run around, with smaller parties joining together to create a serious challenge to the two major parties, and push both the media and pols to take the indes more seriously. The candidates may never be elected, but part of the object here is to siphon off those most disaffected by their party’s choice, and empower independents more.
 Please don’t think I believe this a perfect idea. This is but an outline: one intended to at least start taking us down a path headed away from oppressive duopoly of two party politics. Structural change needs to start, otherwise all the moaning and kvetching about the system is nonsense.
  No single candidate alone can change the system: it’s too corrupt.
 Raising hell six months before November won’t change the system: it’s too corrupt.
  Voting for people who can’t win certainly won’t change the system: it’s too corrupt.
  Indeed the last few presidential elections have arguably made it worse. Has the system gotten better; less corrupt, after Obama or Bush were “hired?” Were we better off after Anderson’s, or Nader’s, challenges? Did change for the better happen after Gore/Bush or Kerry/Bush? Has electronic voting actually improved the system we have? I would say: blame whomever you wish, a loud “no” in response to all these questions. In many ways it’s gotten worse.
  Seems people who do get elected after these very marginal protests that happen every election cycle do even more structural damage. After all: a corrupt system elected them, why not make it worse in ways that are advantageous to either, or both, of the major parties?
 One thing that’s a bloody good bet: unchallenged in any effective way means the system will never, ever, change, never take any power away from the two major parties. This will be a battle that goes far beyond 2016 and requires clever organization. But if we can’t get the politicians to change it, make it fair, make it more honest…
 …giving independents more of a chance would be a damn good start.

                                               -30-
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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