Marin County demonstrates the one-party totalitarianism that flows from open primaries

Yesterday, I posted about the result of California’s open primary in Marin:  two Democrats running against each other for the California Assembly.  My post was about the problem that this creates for those people whose party has been shut out of the election.  The net effect of open primaries is that, rather than allowing parties to choose their own candidates, the primary just becomes a “pre-election election,” with the November election serving as a run-off.

It turns out that the open primaries are also a problem for the candidates facing off against each other in November, because it’s hard for voters to distinguish between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.  In the article I quoted yesterday,the Marin IJ tried to help, by painting Marc Levine as more “pro-business,” which can be translated as “Mitt Romney surrogate.”

The IJ needn’t have made the effort, though.  I didn’t realize it when I wrote yesterday’s post, but I had waiting in my mail box a flyer from the California Democratic Party making the difference between the two candidates as clear as a bright summer day (click on thumbnails to enlarge):

On the flyer’s front, you can see the Republican elephant superimposed in the middle of what is clearly a group of people standing in line.  The text reads:

Marc Levine Doesn’t Want You to Know About the Elephant in the Room . . .

Because the elephant in the room is MARC LEVINE

Turn the flyer over and the message gets more specific:


[Quoting a female attendee] “We’re a bunch of red folks . . . and we find comfort with our own.”

Marin County Republican Chair Kevin Krick dismissed Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments as “a speed bump on the way to the White House.”

And the applauding Elephant in the Room was Marc Levine!  [With a big red finger arrow pointing to a picture of Levine attending the kick-off, with the Levine picture cropped in the shape of an elephant.]

What’s next — campaign contributions from Republican Special Interests?  Is this the kind of “Democrat” we want representing us in the State Assembly?

One can guess what happened.  Marc Levine, in an effort to distinguish himself from a Democrat opponent who is pure Progressive, sought to make himself known to a broader coalition of Marin County voters.  Since Marin has no subway or train stations outside of which the candidate can stand to introduce himself to voters, he goes from one political event to another.  This one was a Republican event.  He probably thought it was a smart move, because Republicans, having been denied a candidate by the open primary system are, theoretically, an up-for-grabs constituency.  They’ve got to vote for someone, so why not Levine?

Poor Levine.  His tactical outreach effort backfired, but it had the salutary effect of exposing the anti-democratic effect of open primaries:  Because of the open primary, which denied Marin County Republicans the right to choose their own candidate, the Democrat Party in California filled the vacuum by anointing a “Republican” candidate.

This whole thing has become a travesty.  What we’re seeing isn’t democracy in action.  Instead, it’s one-party rule, complete with infighting, without even the pretense of open elections.

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  • Indigo Red

    In my district, it certainly looked as though the election was stacked in favor of Democrats with six candidates “preferring” the Dem Party and only two candidates “preferring” Republicans. Nov 6, we will choose between two Conservative Republicans. The open primary is a Sword of Damocles that cuts both ways.

  • CollegeCon

    Living in Washington where we have a top 2 primary very similar to yours, I have actually come to like it.  In those districts that are incredibly skewed, it gives conservatives the ability to have a real effect on the election by picking the less crazy/more moderate of two liberals.  Compare this to a more conventional primary, where the single dem candidate can be as crazy as they please, since the primary electorate tends to be more extreme.  The moderate dems may not like the nutcase, but they will likely vote for them anyways over the republican.  You’re then left with a nutcase.  Sure, the open/top two primary may not give you choices you can really get behind, but I personally consider being able to actually feel like I have an effect on the election to be more important.

  • Danny Lemieux

    That’s a good point, CollegeCon. If the conservatives can organization themselves into a “swing” voting block, you can become kingmakers. Take a page from Chicago politics: organize yourselves and let it be know that you can be bought.

  • Tonestaple

    It’s an interesting thought, CollegeCon, but I don’t know what part of the state you live in.  In Seattle, we will just end up with two crackpots on the ballot and I can’t find a dime’s worth of difference between them.  Any race below the level of the top state offices is going to involve Tweedledum and Tweedledummer where I live, and if you look at the endorsements to see which one might be more tolerable, you really just can’t tell the difference.  They all claim to be for the pee-pul, but they never know squat about economics and so can’t tell a second-level effect from the Easter Bunny.

  • CollegeCon

    I live in the 2nd District.  We actually had the opposite happen, where a Republican vs Republican election battle allowed a challenger to beat a 16 year incumbent, and ultimately provide us with a far better legislator.  This has happened elsewhere too, such as Reuven Carlyle beating John Burbank.  Now I don’t know either personally, so I’m not going to speculate on which of those was the better choice, but Burbank was endorsed as the “official” Dem candidate, and Carlyle has bucked his party in some cases, in particular on education.

  • MacG

    “Marc Levine Doesn’t Want You to Know About the Elephant in the Room . . .
    Because the elephant in the room is MARC LEVINE”

    At the least the Dems are kind enough to let me know who to vote for :) 

    Do you think that the Republicans can sue for trademark infringement and defamation of character?  

  • Charles Martel

    Levine is marginally better than Allen. I read my wife’s pro-Allen literature and have to laugh–the man has progressive hack written all over his face and his message.
    As for choosing the lesser of two evils, for me it’s like deciding whether to vote for Allen, who is in favor of pushing harder on the accelerator as California careens toward the cliff, or Levine, who plaintively squeaks, “Elect me and I’ll plant both my wittle feet firmly on the ground and stop this runaway truck!”

  • Ymarsakar

    They couldn’t stop it if they tried. Which most of them won’t. Arnold also got sucked in by the play the game the way we play it crowd in Nancy Pelosi ville.

  • Ymarsakar

    They started winning the elections when their cards were called “open primaries” and their enemies game plan was called “closed primaries”. In the sense that democracies like to be open and only fascist totalitarian villages like closed doors.

    Then again, that’s what happens when you lose the propaganda war against totalitarian fascists.