is a tempting option when it comes to question number three on the New York City ballot next week. The question is this: should New York adopt a new nonpartisan election process for city officials?
Spearheaded by Mayor Bloomberg probably as a result of his endorsement by those psychos in the Independence Party, it would completely change the way city elections work. Instead of having a party primary, there would be one big primary where everyone would run together, and then out of that field, voters would choose two candidates to participate in the final election. The result could be any combination, from two Democrats, to two Republicans, to Sharon Stone running against Lady Bunny.
There are some complaints, mostly involving
how the new system would prevent the city’s new (and highly regarded) campaign finance system from working correctly and how it would benefit Republican candidates who wouldn’t normally be electable. I personally don’t think they would have a chance even under the new system, but politicians are always quick to point out how little faith they have in the voter base. The issue of minority voter disenfranchisement has also been raised by both sides, but it is complicated, with both supporters and opponents of the ballot initiative claiming to have the city’s minority communities’ best interests at heart.
The main opponents of the initiative are incumbent City Council members and large Democrat-affiliated nonprofits and the like. While I don’t think they have nefarious intentions, it is in their best interest to oppose this initiative because with the current system, white Democrats have control of the city government, even though more than 60% of the city population is not white.
As someone who voted for a third party candidate in the 2000 election (before you murder me, remember I’m from Vermont, which A. gets 1 electoral vote and B. always go to the Democrat), I think that any step to dismantle the two-party system is a good one, but you have to question Bloomberg’s motives. While I basically think that the nonpartisan election initiative is the latest in the long chain of attempted coups d’etats by the Republicans, the thing about this law is that it is going to have far-reaching consequences that not even its creators can predict. Maybe it could jumpstart the stagnant and ineffectual City Council, even if there are a few bumps along the way. Maybe we could see some totally crazy and incapable rich person in the final election, and if we do, it’s because the majority voted for them in the primary. Or maybe the whole thing is a huge mistake and we will spend decades picking up the pieces of our broken system. But really nobody knows what would happen, because we’re dealing with the choice between our imperfect current system and a terrifying unknown that would change things drastically. Doesn’t the latter sound a little exciting?
I haven’t decided whether I will vote “yes” or “no” on question three, and right now I’m interested in different points of view. If you’re registered to vote in New York City, you should have gotten a voter guide in the mail last week. It’s super-interesting and you should read the arguments, even if they leave you more undecided than you were before you read them. For two well thought out arguments both for and against the initiative, you can also check out these Vote Yes and Vote No articles in the Voice. If you know how you’re going to vote, post a comment and try to sway me.