A snollygoster? No, just an independent thinker

Published 2:20 pm Friday, September 10, 2021

The voice in my phone said, “We’re not selling anything.”  Doubting that, I waited for the revelation, which soon followed.  The call was a political survey paid for by a candidate or a party.  My guess is that it was seeking responses that would indicate a leaning toward the elephant party. 

At three or four points in the interview I did not respond to questions because they were poorly worded or seemed to force one into a Yes/No position.  Each time I was asked why I didn’t respond and told the lady exactly why.  She was quite surprised when I asked for a phone number so that I could verify the authenticity of the survey.  The next day I called that number and told the fellow who answered what I thought of the survey.

Last election I went to the Convention Center and voted in the mule party primary.  That does not make me a Democrat.  The point of this essay is to declare that I am not a party member.  I am not a Republican.  I am not a Democrat.  People should not color where I live blue or red.  I do not belong to a civic club.  I do not belong to a social club.  Though I’ve sometimes been accused of being a snollygoster, I am not one—though I do support some of the causes advocated by such people.  At times, I must confess, I feel like starting a Regnostic Party.

Of course, the Regnostic Party would lose every election it participated in.  Its candidates would not qualify for public funds.  The IRS might decide not to grant it nonprofit status.  On most State and Federal ballots this year will appear the names of candidates from parties with as little public recognition as the Regnostics—and as little likelihood of getting elected.  

Of course, the great sadness we endure is that the public loses whichever of the two big parties wins the prize.  Jefferson must be joyful wherever he is that big political powerhouses dictate the bottom line.  Even the nature of elections is now in the hands of the two largest parties, one that seems bent on letting our world go to pot so long as selected mega-corporations profit and one that seems devoted to braying at the problems of the world, more often than not turning a flesh wound into a terminal injury.

So—I hereby declare my independence from the movers and shakers who have gotten us into the absolute mess we find ourselves in.  One can only wonder what disaster is in the offing that will so shatter our present fragile structure that good sense may have a chance to guide our futures.

While we’re waiting for the storms to roll over us, may I offer an idea or two.  I suggest that news media immediately stop putting D or R after a politician’s name. Concomi-tant with that would be a restructuring of ballot boards in the Congress and state legislatures that list members in alphabetical order, not by party. How wonderfully refreshing it might be to have elected officials voting for the greater good of a community instead of that segment that contributed to their last campaigns.

With that in mind, let me offer a way to improve our elections and take a giant step toward the results actually representing the wishes of the electorate. Abolish the party primaries. 

Let me cut to the “How To” aspect of this proposal as I share some words from the March 30, 2021 edition of The Atlantic: “Under the reform, rather than both parties holding separate primary elections, all candidates will instead compete in a single, nonpartisan primary in which all voters can participate and select their preferred candidate. Then the top four finishers will advance to the general election, where voters will have the option to rank them.

“Whoever earns a majority of votes wins. (If no candidate earns a majority after first choices are counted, the race is decided by an ‘instant runoff’––whereby the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who ranked that candidate first have their second-place votes counted instead, and so on, until a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote.)”

Thus, we would have a start in diminishing the utter power of the two big parties.  A side effect of this proposal is that Independent voters would have the same power as those voting Democratic or Republican.  And, without doubt, a humongous amount of money would be saved.  And at the end of the process, we might be able to safely and accurately say, the winner represents the people!

TJ Ray writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle.