This original wariness of political parties has managed to survive among the American people, despite the conspiracy between the media and the two parties to glorify party dominated government. In a 2007 Washington Post nation wide survey, 29% of respondents said they were "independents." When asked if there are important differences between the two major parties, 47% said no. As to the statement that the two parties represent the interests of people like me, 60% disagreed. In California, nearly 40% of the voters identify themselves as "independent."
One Party Rule
California's Proposition 14 provides a new way for the people of California to pursue the American Dream of Liberty through self-government. Prior to the enactment of Prop 14, only officially recognized "qualified" parties could conveniently run candidates in the primary election. "Unqualified" outsiders had prohibitive barriers, such as costly fees and high numbers of signatures on petitions to be placed on the ballot. Candidates in the qualified parties didn't have to suffer these restrictions.
More than three million Californians were effectively barred from voting in the primary election simply because they declined to register to vote as a member of any of the half dozen qualified parties. They could have lied about identifying with one of the qualified parties at the time of registering to vote, so that they could cast a primary vote; but because of their personal integrity they were unjustly deprived of the opportunity to vote in the primary election. They could only vote in the general election for the "left overs."
Thus, an oligarchy of a half dozen qualified parties reigned in the state primary election process. But there was an oligarchy of two parties within that oligarchy. So-called "third parties," like Peace and Freedom, Greens, Libertarians, etc had the status of being "qualified," however, in practice they held very little power. With over 125 elective offices in the CA government, third parties rarely held more than a few lesser positions. Dems and Repubs held the vast majority of CA offices. Allowing third parties the status of being qualified has never been more than a device for fooling them into thinking that the two-party system was open and democratic. Even within the CA two-party system, one party dominates the legislative branch -" the Dems.
This one-party legislature is the nightmare come true for our Founding Generation. Because they had just fought a revolution against a king, they put their faith in the legislature, rather than the executive, to represent the people. They shared Madison's understanding that in "republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates." (Fed 51) Hence, the first Article of the Constitution defines the legislative branch.
The Framers of our Constitution envisioned the legislative branch as representing a multiplicity of interests, not just the interests of a dominant faction. In CA, the ills of such a legislature include a squandering of natural resources, misspent public funds, neglect of the poor and humble, and an education system that increasingly seeks more to profit from its students than to educate them. Such lousy governing need not be. Washington's ideal of a legislature as "the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests" can be realized.
Stage Three Myopia
Prop 14 is misleadingly named the "Top Two" measure. In fact, the new law creates a three stage process. The first stage offers the greatest opportunity for Liberty, but the third stage receives nearly all the media coverage. In part, the writers in the press and online are so literal minded that they focus on the title of the law, and completely miss the practical opportunities the new law provides. They are not alone in their myopia. Third party "leaders" have lamented the demise of their privileged positions, and declared that "top two" is undemocratic. Some of them have sought court injunctions to stop the state from implementing the law. After the courts have shot down their claims about being denied "freedom of association," their default argument is that the "top two" denies them the right to have write-in candidates.