Op-Ed: A Taste of Their

Own Medicine

Greg Orman

April 18, 2016

For political junkies, this election cycle has been remarkable. The rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders caught the experts off guard and has led to endless analysis and speculation about what these insurgent campaigns mean to the future of our two major parties and the country itself. The 2016 election cycle will be studied for years to come and lead to fundamental changes within both the Republican and Democratic parties.  

For a political Independent, last week had to be the high point so far. Trump’s surrogates took to the Sunday morning talk shows to describe how the GOP rules were rigged. Trump himself, in speech after speech, echoed the same theme — culminating in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Thursday. This follows significant discussion on the Democratic side about how the Democratic super delegates tip the scales in a manner that’s anything but democratic.

As an Independent, all I can say is, “Welcome to our world.” Democratic and Republican politicians have been writing rules for two centuries that disenfranchise Independent voters while cementing in advantages for the duopoly that controls our politics. In 1812, when Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed into law a redistricting plan that gave his Democratic-Republicans an advantage over their rival Federalists, an era of rule-rigging was ushered in. It has continued — unabated — ever since.

While much of the chicanery is intended to give an advantage to one of the major parties over the other, disenfranchising independent-minded voters is also a primary goal. Now that more Americans self-identify as Independents than either Democrats or Republicans, this isn’t a small group that’s being written out of our democratic process.

Every time members of the ruling duopoly get a chance to re-write the rules, they take full advantage. Even “good government” reforms are used as Trojan horses to slip in provisions that benefit the duopoly. The secret ballot that was new to America in the late 1800s was supposed to end the practice of ruffians intimidating voters into supporting their preferred candidate.

It also allowed politicians to write the rules for how those ballots were designed. In state after state (including my home state of Kansas), the dominant party wrote rules that prevented “fusion” tickets, where more than one party... Continue Reading.

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