Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Thoughts for the Solstice

Now that the longest night has passed, we can look forward to spring. Literally, and hopefully, metaphorically as well.

We must look forward, even as the country seems to be lurching backward in a Republican frenzy to unravel progressive initiatives like the Social Security, protecting the environment, human rights, free speech, and other minor advancements we've managed to craft over the last two hundred years.


Mark Leno, Assembly member from San Francisco is still pushing his Gay Marriage initiative in the State Legislature, but calling it something like religious freedom and non-discrimination in marriage act. Is the first page from the playbook of Karl Rove the Democrats are taking?

If so, hoorah. We have to couch things in language that will strike a chord with people, not frighten them off. Go Mark!


A correspondent writes that the nomination process for the Democratic primary needs serious overhaul. The front loaded process by which Kerry was annointed as soon as he took Iowa denies us a choice, and doesn't allow for vigorous airing of the issues. He's proposing a plan whereby primaries are truly contested, predicting the more contested, the better the ultimate candidate and more chance he (or she) has of winning. I will try to post the whole story here soon.



Anonymous said...

Hi Dotty,

I have a firm belief that Instant Runoff Voting is a great
idea and would facilitate contested primaries.

If you want to read more about it here's a url:

I would also be interested in hearing other ideas.


Tom Gangale said...

I am in favor of ranked voting, or instant runoff voting, but it does not really apply to presidential primaries, because there is nothing to instantly run off, no office to immediately fill. The presidential nomination process comprises 50 individual state contests that select slates of delegates to a national convention.

The functional equivalent of a runoff, if necessary, occurs at the national level at the national party convention through successive balloting. In the absence of a delegate majority for one candidate, there would be an open convention. There would be a succession of ballots, a process in which delegates would at some point (probably after the first or second ballot) be released from their initial commitment to a candidate, and would be free to vote for their second choice, who need not be one of the two top delegate-holders going into the convention. Of course, neither major party has had recent experience in this. The last Democratic Convention to go beyond one ballot occurred in 1952, when Adlai Stevenson won on the third ballot. The 1948 Republican Convention went to a third ballot before Thomas Dewey won the nomination. Republicans had a close vote in 1976 when Gerald Ford prevailed over Ronald Reagan by 1187 votes to 1070 votes.

So long as delegates are awarded on a proportional basis, plurality “wins” should not be a big issue. If a candidate wins a plurality of 27%, should he or she not get what is coming... 27% of the delegates? However, for those who are uncomfortable with this idea, in that it might not lead to a clear winner at the end of the primary season, ranked voting might provide a remedy, either at the state or national level. At the state level, ranked voting could be used to proportionally award delegates among the top three vote-getters in a much larger field of candidates; those who failed to win, place, or show would receive no delegates. Also, ranked voting could come into play at an open national convention. For instance, when third place Candidate C released her delegates, the number of delegates proportional to the voters’ second choices (on a state-by-state basis) would then automatically be committed to those candidates for a specified number of ballots. In cases where second-choice candidates had already withdrawn from the race, delegates would be free to vote their conscience.

For a detailed discussion of this and other issues regarding the California Plan, please visit