Gary Swing on Election Reform and the Green Party

Gary Swing was an independent Green candidate for U.S. Senator in Arizona in 2016 and for U.S. Representative in 2018. He is a former Vice-Chair of the Colorado Coalition for Fair and Open Elections, which successfully lobbied the Colorado state legislature for two bills to improve minor party ballot access in Colorado in 1995 and 1997. The New Progressive Alliance has endorsed him four separate times for public office.

The Green Party has been running candidates for public offices in the United States since 1985 but we still haven’t elected a single Green Party member to Congress. Green Party candidates have been much more successful in other countries.

Why? There are two reasons. The first is we are stuck with an archaic 18th century voting system. Voting systems have evolved, but the United States remains primitive and most Americans don’t know how the rest of the world votes. Most democratic republics use more modern, more sophisticated, more representative voting systems.

American elections are uniquely backwards in many respects. We have the longest, most expensive election campaigns in the world. This is the only major democratic republic that nominates candidates through primaries, which adds months and expense to elections. No nation takes so long to select its chief executive, with presidential primaries or caucuses in each state and a bizarre Electoral College system. Only in the United States do we elect so many secondary executive offices like attorney general, treasurer, auditor, secretary of state, and even county coroners. Most countries have unicameral legislatures with one body of representatives. Our Congress and 49 redundant state legislatures are bicameral, electing two bodies of representatives. The US Senate is probably the most unrepresentative legislative body of any country that claims to have a representative form of government. Most other democratic republics have a prime minister chosen by their parliament, not a direct presidential election. Our elections are centered on individual candidates, not political parties and platforms, but only candidates of the two establishment parties are covered by the media or included in debates. Public campaign financing is rare in our elections. The government allows unlimited corporate campaign spending. Voter turnout in the United States is among the lowest in the world. This is also the only western democracy that has never held a national initiative or referendum. Nowhere else have so few people voted so frequently in such utterly meaningless elections, with such poor representation.

Look at first time candidate Angela Green has been viciously attacked and vilified because she dared to stand as a Green Party candidate for public office outside of a thoroughly rigged two party system. She was bullied into withdrawing from Arizona's election for U.S. Senator and endorsing the Democratic Party nominee. When she did, Angela was attacked both for withdrawing and for being a potential "spoiler" in a close race. Angela Green is not the problem. The problem is a terrible political system.

Alternative party candidates do not spoil Arizona elections. Arizona's state legislature has created a political system that is rotten to the core. 

Republican state legislators have imposed severe ballot access restrictions to keep Libertarian candidates representing the state's third largest party out of Arizona elections. No Libertarian candidates qualified for Arizona's ballot for state or Congressional offices in 2016 or 2018. 

Arizona Democrats have challenged petition signatures of Green Party nominees to kick candidates representing the state's fourth largest party off the ballot. 

The Arizona Republican Party has tried to "game the vote" by sending out mailers to Democrats with information about Green candidates in close races as a cynical ploy to siphon votes away from Democrats to Greens.

The idea of alternative candidates "spoiling" elections for major party candidates under the United States' rigged, corrupt, and archaic single member plurality voting system is largely a mythical phenomenon that Democrats and Republicans use as a lame excuse for shutting alternative parties and perspectives out of the political process entirely.

Green candidates would not be in a position to "spoil" Arizona elections if Republican state legislators had not blocked Libertarians from running for public office. Green Party primary write-in candidates could not "spoil" Arizona elections if Democrats didn't kick Green Party nominees off the ballot. 

Angela Green may receive the highest percentage of votes cast for any 2018 Green Party candidate for U.S. Senator in the United States because the Libertarian candidate was disqualified. I received the most votes for any Green Party candidate for U.S. Senator in the country in 2016 (with a zero dollar campaign budget) for the same reason. Same race, two consecutive elections.

This happened because different rules applied to the Green Party than to the Libertarian Party. A Socialist Workers Party lawsuit created a crack in Arizona's oppressive ballot access laws. This court ruling enables candidates of a "new" party to qualify for the general election by filing as write-ins for an uncontested party primary.

In 2018, Arizona was the only state in which a Green was one of three candidates on the ballot for U.S. Senator. Every other Green candidate for U.S. Senator was one of four or more candidates on the ballot.

If the two major parties really cared about the "spoiler issue," it would be a very simple "problem" to fix. Implement election reforms like proportional representation for legislative offices and approval voting for single winner executive offices. Give everyone the freedom to vote sincerely for candidates and parties who represent their values, without structural pressure to vote "strategically" for the "lesser of two evils."

People have the right to vote or not vote for any candidate they choose. Your vote belongs to you, not to anyone else. Nobody has the right to demand that you must vote for their candidate or their party. Legitimate elections would provide genuine representation for the people who cast the ballots. Trying to shame, bully, or intimidate people into casting votes for candidates or parties they don't support is pathetic. If the Democrats or Republicans want your support, they should earn it by demonstrating that they represent your values, not by destroying the reputations of their opponents. 

Arizona's political system is a huge mess, with some of the screwiest ballot access laws in the nation. The United States, in turn, has the world's worst ballot access laws, and the world's most backwards political system. Rather than continuing to design new schemes to shut people out of the political process entirely, we should create a better political system to maximize inclusion, freedom of opportunity, and fair representation. 

The United States Constitution was designed as a compact to preserve slavery, originally excluding more than 93 percent of the adult population from the right to vote for political representation. The U.S. Senate and the Electoral College skew the U.S. political system to the right by giving disproportionate representation to rural, conservative states. 

Thomas Jefferson believed that future generations could not be bound to the structures created by their ancestors. Every generation should have the right to design their own form of government. It is time for a new Constitutional Convention to establish a new form of government with fair representation for everyone.

Most modern representative democracies have adopted "proportional representation" voting methods that are designed to provide fair representation to everyone, not just to the demographic majority in gerrymandered single member districts.

The United States Senate is the most unrepresentative legislative body in any nation that purports to have a representative form of government. The U.S. Senate should be abolished. A unicameral Congress should be elected by an open party list system of proportional representation with fair and meaningful representation for a diverse population. Any elections for single winner executive offices should be conducted by approval voting to ensure that the candidate with the broadest popular support is elected. See references 1, 2, 3, and 10.

(Ed Griffith insert) The second reason Green Party candidates have been much more successful in other countries is that in the United States the Green Party tends to ignore correspondence and campaigning, engage in name calling and bitter fights, and to ignore the ten key values of the Green Party. See references 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.



1-Arizona Central: Did Green Party Candidate Angela Green Spoil Race for Kyrsten Sinema?

2-Gary Swing on Election Reform  Here Gary Swing also goes into different types of voting such as ranked choice voting, instant runoff voting, and proportional representation.

3- Election Reform Is Needed 

4-Afghanistan: An American Holocaust by Gary Swing 

5-When Clinton Lied, Yugoslavia Died  by Gary Swing 

6-Gary Swing on Bernie Sanders 

7-Gary Swing on the Green Party 

8-Climate Change and the Green Party by Gary Swing 

9-A Hard Look at Where We Are After the 2016 Election 

10-Black Agenda Report on Georgia Election Fraud 

11-2018 Green Party Election Results by Gary Swing  

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commented 2019-03-02 15:44:56 -0800 · Flag
Thanks for sharing this!

Note to readers: The final paragraph of this commentary was written by Ed Griffith.