Free Market Elections

May 16, 2014

I take a market-based approach to almost everything – including politics. The political & electoral system is one of the most regulated industries in existence. While there has been a lot of discussion about the regulations regarding campaign finance, very few people have been focusing on other free market reforms to the political & electoral system, such as ballot access and using technological advances to increase participation.

One notable exception is reforms that have been implemented in California. Time‘s Joe Klein has this interesting article about the 2014 elections and the reforms that the voters in California voted for in 2010.

The reforms are ingeniously simple. There is no more gerrymandering in California, no more congressional or state legislative districts tailored to the needs of the incumbents or the majority political party. District lines are now drawn by an independent commission to reflect actual community borders. (The commissioners are forbidden by law from knowing where the incumbents live.) Second, primaries are now multipartisan: the top two vote getters, regardless of party affiliation, face off against each other in the general election.

Read the entire article here.

Of course, the California reforms make the political parties less important. Good.

Think about it. Why do we have political parties in the first place? They were started to organize to spread the message and get out the vote. In 2014, do we really need political parties now that we have the Twitter and Facebook?

I love the idea of independent candidates being able to gain ballot access and actually have a chance to win. You see, candidates in California now have the opportunity to build their own brand and stand on their own platform, without having to carry all of the baggage of a political party.

California’s new system should be studied and looked at by other states as an example that they should consider. Unfortunately, the California reforms will be hard to implement in other states. Most states don’t have the type of initiative and referendum system that California has, so the people don’t directly have a voice. In most states, the political parties control the process and use the process to preserve and fortify their power.

There are other reforms, such as online voting, that should be looked at too. A lot of places around the world are experimenting with new things that should be considered in an effort to open up the system to bring the power back to the people.

True free-marketeers should champion free market reforms in all areas of politics & elections. I hope that more people will join me in advocating for reforms so that every American can have a greater voice in the process.

One response to Free Market Elections

  1. The top-two system wasn’t invented in California; it was invented in Louisiana in 1975 and has been used in Washington state starting in 2008. Ironically, it helps Democrats and Republicans and the chief victims are minor parties. There have been 86 top-two elections elections (in those 3 states combined) in which a minor party person ran and in which there were at least two major party members also running. In all 86 instances, the minor party failed to place first or second and was therefore barred from the general election. That characteristic shuts down the free circulation of ideas, and that is why the ACLU of both southern California and northern California opposed the system when it was on the ballot in 2010. The League of Women Voters of two states has studied the top-two system (Arizona and Washington state) and the League opposed the top-two after their study was complete.