Elizabeth Emken for Senate; Dianne Feinstein for forced retirement

A few months ago, I though Elizabeth Emken’s chance of unseating Dianne Feinstein in the Senate was about equal to the Giant’s chance of winning the World Series.  I was not optimistic.  Today, I believe that both are possible and, indeed, probable.  I’ll leave the baseball talk to others, and I’ll focus on Elizabeth Emken.  It’s not just that Elizabeth Emken is such a good candidate (which she is); it’s that Dianne Feinstein has refused to be any type of candidate at all (which is unsurprising given her embarrassing record).

Elizabeth Emken is impressive.  She graduated from UCLA with dual degrees in Economics and Political Science, and spent time at Cambridge studying China and the Middle East.  She worked for years at IBM running numbers and analyzing management in order to increase performance and decrease costs.  Elizabeth understands how complex financial systems operate and she understands effective management technique.

Sixteen years ago, when her son was diagnosed with profound autism, Elizabeth left the private sector to work in Washington to help fund cost-effective, productive programs for those who are unable to care for themselves.   I’m going to quote directly from Elizabeth’s website regarding her autism work, because it is a snapshot of her intelligence, her familiarity with Washington politics and procedures, and her no-nonsense approach to budget issues, even when federal funds have a direct impact on her own life:

Elizabeth is a fighter and a problem solver. She was “drafted” into a second career as an advocate for developmentally disabled children after her son, Alex, was diagnosed with autism. She served as Vice President for Government Relations at Autism Speaks, the Nation`s largest science and advocacy organization devoted to the public health emergency of autism.

Elizabeth coordinated advocacy for multiple pieces of federal legislation addressing autism, the Advancement in Pediatric Autism Research Act, the lead title of the Children`s Health Act of 2000, and the Combating Autism Act of 2006 which authorized nearly $1 billion over 5 years to combat autism through research, screening, early detection and early intervention.

A vital element of this accomplishment, Elizabeth led the charge to ensure transparency and accountability on how the NIH would spend autism research dollars. For the first time at the NIH, her efforts produced a portfolio analysis of autism spending that would have to withstand public scrutiny – a policy Elizabeth believes should apply throughout the entire government.

At Autism Speaks, Elizabeth launched a multi-state campaign to secure insurance coverage for autism-related services. 30 states have enacted autism insurance reform laws, saving participating states millions in taxpayer funds that would otherwise have been directed to state health care and special education services. This groundbreaking legislation, aimed at ending marketplace discrimination against individuals with autism, passed into law in California on October 9, 2011.

Elizabeth doesn’t just have intelligence, skills, and a strong record, she also has charisma.  I was fortunate enough to hear her speak today at the Marin Republican Women Federated and I was blown away.  She is a smooth, but not glib speaker, who engages almost fiercely with her audience.  She is not a dilettante.  She is a woman who believes passionately in a government that maximizes individual freedom, while efficiently providing necessary services in the most cost-effective way.

I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to see many good conservative candidates come and go in California.  Why then do I think Elizabeth has a chance?  Because this is a year like no other year.  As in 2008, Republicans are fired up and want to vote.  As in 2008, even if they cannot affect California’s electoral college votes, California Republicans want to make a difference in local elections.  What makes 2012 different from — and better than — 2008 is the fact that Elizabeth is running against Dianne Feinstein, not Barbara Boxer.

I hold no brief for Boxer, but she is an energetic politician.  She campaigned hard in 2008, in part because her opponent, Carly Fiorina, was a very visible candidate, with a large pocketbook.  Boxer went up and down California, rallying her troops, and it’s the boots on the ground that will ultimately matter at the ballot box.

Dianne Feinstein, doesn’t have boots on the ground . . . or slippers . . . or delicate, expensive sandals.  She is the invisible candidate.  She has repeatedly refused to debate Emken. Feinstein takes her “no debate” stance so seriously, she won’t even talk to the press about debating Elizabeth.

Feinstein’s sudden shyness isn’t really surprising. Whatever energy Feinstein originally brought to Washington has long since dissipated. Having put in her 20 years, she seems to view serving as a Senator a giant boondoggle. She ignores her constituents, she ignores voters, she even ignores California itself, as she demonstrated when she failed to get any significant part of the $850,000,000 Jobs Bill earmarked for California. (By this, I’m not endorsing the stimulus. I’m only pointing out that, when there was money to be had, and when our state was — and is — hurting badly, Feinstein was supine.)  Further, given that Feinstein is already 80, there’s reason to believe that she has no intention of serving out yet another six-year term.  Instead, there’s a strong possibility she’ll retire early, letting Jerry Brown have his pick of California Progressives to fill her Senate seat.

In other words, Feinstein is running as the ultimate incumbent: she’s just assuming that her name on the ballot is enough to get her elected, and she’s probably hoping that an unelectable Progressive can hang onto her coattails to hold the same seat.

But this is 2012, and everything is different.  Before this election, Feinstein’s name might have been enough to win. But there’s a dirty little secret in 2012, one that the media has kept under wraps: Californians don’t like Feinstein. The rolling California Business Roundtable/Pepperdine School of Public Policy polls have some interesting numbers. First, for months more than 65%, and often more than 70%, of Californians have thought that California is heading in the wrong direction.  That attitude is bad for incumbents.  Second, specifically with regard to Dianne Feinstein, voters don’t like her:  she’s occasionally cracked the 50% mark, but she’s also spent a long time in the mid- to high-40% likability area.  As with Obama, it’s bad news for an incumbent who cannot stay above 50%.  An even more interesting number is the high percentage of undecideds polled:  20% of California voters are up for grabs.

Emken ended her speech by saying, “I’m a different kind of candidate. I’m a Mom; I work for a living. I understand what families are going through….  If you are mentally or physically unable to care for yourself, you have nothing to fear from me.”  Emken, like Romney, is not a monster.  Instead, she is an ordinary (albeit very talented) person who recognizes that California and the United States can be saved, and can still provide necessary support for the most helpless.  She also understands, though, that this can only be done through greater efficiency, not greater profligacy.  The current governmental approach, one the Feinstein embodies, works hard to kill the taxpayer geese who for so long have laid the golden government eggs.  Those days are over.  We need sound fiscal management, and Emken gets it.

If you’re a California voter, don’t let the fact that your Presidential vote is probably symbolic stop you from going to the polls.  There are important issues (“Yes on Prop. 32!”) and candidates out there that need your support.  Sending Elizabeth Emken, rather than Dianne Feinstein, to the United States Senate could be the most important thing you do on November 6.

(Cross-posted at Brutally Honest.)

Attention, California voters! Here’s a voter guide that’s not only helpful, it’s entertaining.

Laer, author of the fabulous Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America, has posted a California voter’s guide at the website’s a companion to his book.  Unlike all other voter guides, it’s not only informative (and, indeed, it’s more detailed than most voter’s guides), it’s vastly entertaining.

California propositions are enough to drive even the best informed voter absolutely nuts.  If you’re struggling with the California slate, make life a little easier on yourself and check out what Laer has to say.

The hidden costs of living in California

My computer is in its death throes, so I have a new one on order.  I just get the confirmation from Dell, and it contained this interesting little notice:

For shipments to California, a state environmental fee up to $10 per item will be added to invoices for all orders containing displays greater than 4 inches.  Dell Marketing LP collects applicable tax in all states.  Buyer is responsible for remitting additional tax to tax authorities.

Since I’m buying only the tower and not the monitor, this $10 green gouge doesn’t apply to me, but it’s still a telling sign of the way California nickels and dimes its consumers into bankruptcy or flight.


That out-of-tune brassy sound you hear is me tooting my own horn

Real Clear Politics, Sunday, September 30, 2012:


I’m excited not only for myself, but for Laer Pearce, whose book, Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America, is the subject of the post that RCP picked up.  It’s a great book, and as many Americans as possible should read it, so that they can fully understand what Progressive politics will do to the American landscape.

My review of Laer Pearce’s Crazifornia is up and running at PJ Lifestyle

I galloped through Laer Pearce’s Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America, which is a great book.  My review is at PJ Lifestyle:

Reading my friend Laer Pearce’s book Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America made me crazy. Laer is a wonderful writer with straightforward, prose, a witty sense of humor that doesn’t overwhelm the narrative, and a commanding mastery of facts about California’s politics, business, education, and public policy. In theory, I should have galloped through Craziforniain three hours. In fact, it took me three days to read.

Why did I have a problem with this fascinating book? Because, when I started I did not know how deep the Crazifornia rot ran in the state, nor was I aware quite how infectious the insanity is when it comes to the rest of America. To keep up with the deluge of evidence proving that California is indeed crazy, I repeatedly stopped reading so that I could scratch out little notes to myself: “California’s all-powerful bureaucrats are an army of Leftist Rube Goldberg’s with guns.” “This is a perfect example of voter credulity and bureaucratic overreach.” “California takes a legislatively created energy crisis and makes it worse with more legislation.” The scariest note I wrote was also the shortest: “As California goes, so goes the nation.”

That last note is why you should read the book — and give it to friends and family — in the days remaining before the election. California isn’t just a basket case, it’s a proselytizing basket case, with its environmental zealots, community organizers, and wishful economic thinkers aggressively selling their ideas to other states and to the federal government. As Laer demonstrates, while the recession is slowing the other forty-nine states from buying into California’s governing philosophy, the Obama government is an enthusiastic supporter. Another four years of Obama, and California won’t be the only bankrupt crazy place in America.

Read the whole thing here.

Comcast leaving the Bay Area

The movie said “if you build it, they will come it.”  More and more California businesses say, “if you tax it, we will go“:

Comcast announced Tuesday that it would shutter three Northern California call centers and consolidate them into other western U.S. centers in a few months, a move that will affect as many as 1,000 jobs.

Operations at the cable company’s call centers in Livermore, Morgan Hill and Sacramento will be shifted to centers in Oregon, Washington and Colorado at the end of November, Comcast said.

[snip]

The company’s announcement of the consolidation cited the “the high cost of doing business in California” as the impetus for the decision.

If you haven’t already, please buy yourself a copy of my friend Laer’s book, Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America.  It will explain everything you need to know about Comcast’s decision.

Voter fraud? What voter fraud!

No comment from me.  You all know what I’m thinking:

Starting Wednesday, Californians can register to vote online, a change implemented just in time for the November presidential election.

Made possible by a 2011 bill authored by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, the online system will allow people whose signature is already on file with the state Department of Motor Vehicles to transfer their voter registration form electronically to county elections officials from the secretary of state’s website. Since 2009, voters have been able to access a voter registration form online, but until now, they had to print it out and mail it in.

For the November election, Californians have until Oct. 22 to register.

Okay, I’ll add just one thing: The Progressive California legislature just approved driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.

That’s all folks.

“Crazifornia”: A book that reveals the insane truth behind America’s most Progressive state

Those of you who were lucky enough to have started using the internet a few years ago probably remember Laer Pearce, who blogged at Cheat-Seeking Missiles.  Laer was one of my first blog friends, meaning that we corresponded by email and, eventually, we met.  He is precisely what you’d imagine him to be from his blog:  informed, analytical, brilliant, witty, and just an all-around great guy.

He stopped blogging a few years ago to devote his free time to writing a book about the insanity that is California.  Well, the book came out today!  It’s called Crazifornia. Here’s the Amazon book description:

When the agency responsible for state roads spends $4 million on new cars and trucks, then parks them unused for two years, that’s Crazifornia. When cancer warnings are required on buildings because they may contain estrogen or testosterone, that’s Crazifornia. And when a full-frontal governmental assault on business drives enough people out of a state in ten years to double the population of Oregon, that’s Crazifornia, too. Through tale after outrageous, funny, tragic tale, “Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State” explains why California is crashing, making it a must-read for all Californians and for anyone who fears California may be coming their way soon. That’s why nationally syndicated radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt called Crazifornia “The most insightful book on California’s perilous condition – ever.” Part One provides history and perspective, explaining how the PEER Axis – Progressives, Environmentalists, Educators and Reporters – took over the Golden State and work to keep it a leader in Progressivism, generation after generation. Part Two looks at the current state of affairs in the Tarnished State – bureaucratic ineptitude, anti-business policies, a failed education system, entrenched environmentalism, unsustainable pensions and a perpetually unbalanced budget, and considers California’s options for the future. “One rarely reads such a funny account of such a sad subject,” said California columnist and author Steven Greenhut. “This is a great book to read, tearfully, as you pack the house in Orange County and wait for the moving van to take you to Nevada.”

I haven’t read the book yet (I’m buying it as soon as I finish this post), but I can tell you in advance what you’ll find: it will be extremely well-informed; easy to read despite it’s serious subject matter; as Steven Greenhut said in the review above, it will be funny despite the depressing subject matter; and you will get a glimpse into America’s future if Obama is elected and he gets a Democrat Congress. Also, if you look carefully, you made find some references to a certain Bookworm you know.

It’s such a joy when a friend completes a major, and important, project, and is able to share it with the world.  So you can imagine the pleasure I have in sharing the good news with you.

(The link above is to the Kindle version of the book.  If you prefer to feel the weight of the paper book in your hand, you can find the print edition here.)

A new book is coming out that I know we’ll love

One of my oldest blog friends, Laer Pearce, who used to blog at Cheat-Seeking Missiles before he turned his attention to writing a book, is now on the verge of publishing his book about the insanity that is California.  The book, unsurprisingly, is called “Crazifornia.”  While you’re waiting, please consider going over to the Facebook page and liking it.  Thanks.

When cutting the budget, should the government cut back hours or cut out jobs entirely? *UPDATED*

Here in California, faced with a devastating fiscal crisis, Gov. Brown is talking about cuts.  If I were in charge, I’d cut out whole departments and agencies because they’re inefficient, redundant, unnecessary, or entirely inappropriate uses of taxpayer funds. Or within departments, I’d simply do a “rip off the band-aid” approach and fire some employees entirely.  It would be painful, but the department would be pruned and the fired employees wouldn’t be in workplace limbo.  Instead, they could get on with their lives.

Gov. Brown, however, is going a different route, at least for some things.  Rather than get rid of entire departments or entire employees, he’s proposing cutting back on hours — and pay with it.  This means that a government office that was open five days a week will be open only four days a week.  Everyone working in that office will take a 20% pay cut.  That’s a big cut.

Two questions for you:  First, from the employee’s point of view, would you rather be laid off, making a clean break, or would you prefer to have a 20% pay cut in exchange for a much shorter work week?  Second, from the taxpayer’s point of view, do you think it’s better to get rid of whole programs or clumps of employees, or do you think it’s better to cut back on everything at once by shortening hours and pay?

UPDATE:  Here’s an email from someone with a personal insight into government employment:

May I suggest you consider one other little item?  Ask the employees what they think.  My wife works for the Cal State system ; they were confronted with something similar a few years ago.  The union was asked whether or not they’d like to accept fewer hours/lower pay or some number of layoffs (by seniority, of course).  They voted for the reduced hours by a fairly large margin.  Never came to fruition, but the peons seemed pretty well to know the right answer.

Remember, once you lay off all those folks, you just put them on the unemployment rolls for 99 weeks, then … Given our “business friendly” climate, what do you think will happen?

Something to consider.  State employees are human beings too.

State employees are definitely human beings, and I respect the ones who work hard and provide real services. Their views do matter, although I would never deny the government the right make raesonable and appropriate, albeit painful, cuts to the job roll.

The Progressive wish list as spelled out in local campaign literature

‘Tis the season for local campaign literature.  I usually toss these things in the circular file, unread.  As a minority conservative in a massively Democrat/Progressive county, my votes are invariably wasted anyway.  With Open Primaries, though, I’m starting to pay attention to this unsolicited reading material.  So far, I’ve heard from Michael Allen, Jared Huffman, and Stacy Lawson.  The first two live in a Progressive fairy-tale; the third is struggling to make contact with reality.

Herewith, some quotations from their campaign literature, as they slug it out to become the Democrat nominee for U.S. Congress (taking over Woolsey’s seat) or for California Assembly.

First, a statement from Jared Huffman, who has spent a great deal of time in the California Assembly (emphasis in original), and who now wants to go to Washington:

I’ve spent my whole career working for the public interest.  I won major anti-discrimination cases for women and have a 100% career voting record with Planned Parenthood.  I fought for our environment as a Senior Attorney for the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC).

As your Assembly member, I’ve overcome gridlock in Sacramento to pass over 60 pieces of legislation — including laws that are creating jobs, expanding renewable energy, keeping our state parks open, and forcing big oil companies to pay for oil spill prevention.

In Congress, I’ll continue standing up for what I believe in.  Bringing our troops home.  Prioritizing education above military spending.  Equality and women’s rights.  Creating California jobs, and ending tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs overseas.  And fighting big health insurance companies who put profits above our health needs.

I think we can summarize the above easily:  If elected, Huffman will (1) pass legislation that funds chimerical green enterprises; (2) support Obama in his fight against the Catholic Church; (3) raise taxes on corporations at home while preventing them from continuing their businesses abroad (bankrupting or downsizing many, I’m sure); (4) de-fund the military while giving more money to teacher’s unions; and (5) help support “The Return of ObamaCare — it’s back, bigger and badder than ever.”

Unsurprisingly, Huffman has gotten the nod from a slew of environmental and union organizations:  the California Federation of Teachers, the Sierra Club, the Marin County School Superintendent, the California Labor Federation, the National Association of Letter Carriers, California School Employee Assoc., California Hospital Association, North Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Amalgamated Transit Union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Union of Operating Engineers, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Laborers’ International Union of North America, and on and on.

I wonder how many of those union members whose bosses are giving Huffman the nod will still have jobs in three years, after Huffman’s policies (if enacted) have driven away or destroyed private industry, and made the cost of energy prohibitively high.

This being Marin, Huffman isn’t an outlier.  California Assemblyman Michael Allen, who is seeking re-election, rings the same bells.  His whole platform (in wealthy Marin) can be summed up easily:  tax, tax, tax, and spend.  I’m not kidding.  For every problem, he has a very expensive solution.  Here’s his statement from one piece of campaign literature that harps upon the fading California dream:

PROTECTING THIS DREAM MEANS FUNDING GREAT SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES

That’s why, as your Assemblyman, I’m co-sponsoring a new college scholarship program for middle class families and closing corporate tax loopholes to fund education.  And it’s why I’m working with the Governor to place a “millionaires” tax on the November ballot to save public schools.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Allen that the State of California and the schools of California were thriving when the government, for the most part, left Californians alone.  California’s economic and academic decline coincided so closely with the ascendance of Leftist government in California that the two events cannot be a coincidence.

In another piece of campaign literature, Allen explains that he can help solve the budget crisis (which is very real) because he has “a head for numbers.”  First, he explains that as a Former Labor Leader, he’s able to “resolve disputes, kickstart stalled projects and create new jobs.”  I wonder how management feels about his boasts.  They’re probably too busy packing for Nevada or Texas to talk about their feelings.

Allen is proud of his stance on education.  Despite decades of proof that more money has not solved, and will not solve, California’s education woes, he’s all about getting more money to the unions:

Michael Allen stood with teachers and education advocates to stop millions of dollars in cuts to local public schools.  He authored legislation to help make college tuition and fees more affordable for middle-income families.

I just spoke with someone today(he knows who he is) who explained that government rules, especially ADA compliance requirements, impose thousands of dollars per classroom on new school construction.  How about fixing our schools by putting pressure on the Feds and on Sacramento to stop micromanaging schools?  That ought to save some money.

Nor has the Solyndra debacle stopped Allen from pushing the Green government button:

Michael Allen worked with local environmentalists and business to create Solar Sonoma, a group that promotes local access to renewable energy.  He started his career as an attorney with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Team on the Warm Springs Dam initiative.  He introduced incentives that will help our agricultural community transition to organic farming methods.

If these things (solar energy and organic farming) are so good, shouldn’t the market be moving consumers in that direction without Allen’s help?

You won’t be surprised by Allen’s supporters:  California Democratic Party, California Federation of Teachers, California league of Conservation Voters, California Teachers Association, Sierra Club.

Incidentally, both Huffman and Allen have gotten the nod from various law enforcement organizations (police, fire fighters, sheriffs, etc.).  I assume this is because these organizations are union organizations and, by default, back the Democrat candidate and, because of past favors, back those who currently hold political office.  Otherwise, the endorsements make no sense.  I certainly don’t see anything in the candidates’ actual platforms that would improve the quality of life for these organizations’ members.

Stacy Lawson, who is running against Huffman (and others) for Congress, hasn’t yet sent me any literature, but you can see her stand on the issues from her website.  Her proud boast is that she’s less extreme than the others running, and that is true.  However, in Marin County, less extreme is still a relative term.

On energy, Lawson talks about the economic and national security imperative of becoming self-sufficient, but her ideas are the same failed ones the Democrats regularly tout:  namely, conserving and going green.  Until something comes along that’s better than fossil fuel, conserving and going green will never offset our legitimate energy needs, unless we are willing to lower our living and production standards to, say, 1950s  levels.

On job creation, Lawson rightly focuses on small businesses.  She wants to make it easier for them to borrow (potentially replicating the housing crisis, which started when the government forced banks to make bad loans).  She also thinks that the federal government should get involved, not by lowering taxes and decreasing the hundreds of thousands of regulations dotting the private sector landscape, but by entering into more contracts with small businesses.  I don’t know where she gets that idea.  Large companies have huge, expensive departments that are solely dedicated to dealing with the federal paperwork necessary to get and hold a federal job.  Small businesses can’t afford to do business with the federal government.

Lawson also advocates a new WPA:  Rebuild the infrastructure by having the government build a new one and having the taxpayers pay for it.  Considering that America’s Depression had worsened dramatically by 1937, drowned under the weight of Roosevelt’s infrastructure projects, it’s doubtful that this will help the economy.

But will it help the infrastructure?  Again, that’s doubtful.  In the 1930s, infrastructure was basic:  roads and dams.  Also, there were few regulations, so that back then an entire dam could be built in the time it takes the Sierra Club to mount its first protest.

Most importantly, in the 1930s, technology was fairly stagnant.  That’s not the case today.   Just ask yourself this:  whatever happened to all the pager companies that dotted the landscape back in the 1990s?  With a few small, industry-specific exceptions, they’re gone.  Cell phones killed them in less than twenty years.  That’s change government can’t handle.  Remember, while businesses are facing the problems and opportunities that arise today, government is busy imposing yesterday’s solutions.

I’ll stop here.  I like Stacy, who is a nice person.  More importantly, and rather sadly, by Marin standards she is indeed the moderate alternative.  I may even vote for her in the primaries because the thought of seeing a mini-me Woolsey (that would be Huffman) jet off to Washington in January is simply unbearable.

And that’s the stuff that came in today’s mail (augmented by some internet information).  It’s not calculated to uplift a conservative’s spirit, that’s for sure.

The California Open Primary has the practical effect of stifling Republican political speech in November, when it matters most

This election will be the first election since California voters decided, in 2010, to turn ours into an Open Primary state.  The practical effect of having done so is that the November election, rather than being head-to-head combat between the two parties, will be a run-off between the winners from the June election.

The road to this limited November ballot has already started, with candidates from all parties reaching out to voters.  The problem, of course, is that the candidates’ have only just begun their fund-raising, and only die-hard political junkies are really paying attention. Then, in June, the Open Primaries mean that voters can vote for anyone they want, across party lines.

Once the votes are counted, the two candidates who got the most votes go on to the November ballot.  Everyone else vanishes from the scene.  In states that have a heavy party majority in one direction or the other (as is the case with Bright Blue California), the practical effect is to banish minority party candidates from the November ballot.

Those who support Open Primaries contend that it is an efficient way to ensure that, when people are really paying attention, the majority of voters get to pick from the two most favored candidates, without having the airwaves — and their brains — cluttered with advertisements and speeches from candidates who don’t have a realistic change of winning.  Those who oppose the Open Primary process — and I am one who does — contend that it effectively shuts the minority parties out of the political debate.

The point of the primary system is to give citizens who are members of a specific political party the opportunity to pick that candidate who best represents their views.  Then, in the Fall season, those cherry-picked party candidates get to go head-to-head, giving voters a genuine ideological choice.  This is important even in states that tilt heavily in one direction or the other, because it means that, when voters are actually paying attention, they are exposed to more than just the majority party’s viewpoint.

In other words, if an Open Primary state tilts heavily in favor of one party or the other, the minority party isn’t just precluded from winning (and this holds true even if the majority party has some major scandal over the summer that causes its total collapse).  In addition to being banned from the ballot, the minority party is also entirely denied a voice in the marketplace of political ideas.  Without a candidate on the ballot, the minority party has no commercials, no debates, no opinion pieces, and no candidate interviews.

In True Blue California, seeing Republicans banished from the ballot entirely has been the Democrat dream — although supporters are careful to frame this one-party outcome in terms of “moderation”:

Carl Luna, a professor at San Diego Mesa College [and, judging by this post, one who leans Progressive, rather than conservative], said the hope is that the new way of voting will increase voter turnout and will lead to election of more moderate candidates.

“Since anybody can vote for anybody, you might have to appeal more toward moderate candidates, toward independents,” he said. “So you get two Democrats who win in one district, they go to the general election and the Democrat that can get Independents and even moderate Republicans to vote for them has a better chance to win.”

Here in Marin, because the ultra-Progressive Lynn Woolsey is finally gone for good (yay!), a multitude of Democrats have lined up to try for her seat. The same cannot be said for the Republican side of the ballot.  As is often the case in Marin, it’s been hard to find a Republican candidate willing to do the hard work of campaigning, knowing that the campaign won’t go anywhere.  We’ve had good people in the past (for example, Todd Hooper or Bob Stephens), but both men ran knowing full well that victory was unlikely.  Ultimately, they didn’t run to win; they ran to be heard.

This year, Dan Roberts is fronting the Republican party’s primary ticket for Woolsey’s former seat in the House of Representatives.  (Since he’s the only Republican in the primary, I guess he’s back the ticket too.)  I wish him well, I really do, but honesty compels me to say that Roberts doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning.

Two years ago, Roberts’ low melting point wouldn’t have stopped him from having a voice in the November campaign.   His presence on the ballot would have brought conservatives to the polling places.  He would have run an Op-Ed in the local paper, and his supporters would have sent letters to the editor. Indeed, if the summer bought more bad news for Democrats (skyrocketing oil prices, war in the Middle East, massive Obama administration malfeasance and scandal), he might even have benefited from a Democrat collapse, and pulled out a Republican victory.  None of those things, however — whether the opportunity to have conservative ideas heard or the possibility, albeit small, of a turn for Republicans in Marin — will happen.

In November, in keeping with the Democrat dream, California conservatives will be silenced.  The ballot will have only the names of the two top Democrat candidates for Marin’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The newspaper editorials and letters to the editor will say nary a word about conservative approaches to the serious problems vexing this nation.  There will be no commercials and no speeches.  The Free Speech that is a fundamental part of our democratic process (that’s small “d” democratic) will have been smothered and buried in June.  And, should the Democrat party suffer a national collapse over the summer, it will still wipe the board in California.

To give more dimension to the anti-democratic tilt of the Open Primary, and of the ethical dilemma conservatives face, I spoke the other day with Stacy Lawson, who is one of the Democrat candidates seeking Woolsey’s old seat.  Stacy seems like a very nice gal, whose selling point is that, with her business background, she is the moderate Democrat in the race, one who supports small businesses and true economic growth.  She’s pro-Israel, which she correctly identifies as the only true democracy in the Middle East.  Stacy specifically disavows ties to the Progressive branch of the Democrat party.

This is all for the good.  Except that when you talk to Stacy, it’s clear that, while she doesn’t have the anger that characterizes Progressives (which is why I think she’s a nice gal), her world view is antithetical to a conservative voter’s beliefs.  Why?  Because she believes government is the answer.  Rather than supporting small business by having government back off in terms of taxes and regulations, she believes government should be in the front line of fomenting growth, especially by subsidizing and promoting green energy.

Stacy was kind and polite when I suggested that green energy was iffy and expensive, and that we might do better to promote America’s huge fossil fuel reserves, while focusing on ways to refine and use those reserves in the cleanest way.  Nevertheless, it was clear that Stacy thought that my suggestion was a direct road to the old-fashioned, 1970s’ type of river, one that was filled with dead fish and caught on fire periodically.  In other words, even thought Stacy is indeed a moderate Democrat, she’s also an AGW, Big Government, vaguely anti-military (that’s where she’d cut the deficit) politician — or, as I already said, antithetical to a conservative voter’s beliefs.

In a perfect world, I would not vote for Ms. Lawson, even though I like her and appreciate that she is, by current Democrat standards, a moderate.  In a perfect world, with all due respect to the courageous Dan Roberts, I would also have some real choices in June on the Republican side of the ballot.

But this is not a perfect world.  In this, the real world, because Marin is an almost impossible venue for Republicans, and because we now have an Open Primary that allows for only two spots on the November ballot, when November comes, it is a dead certainty that, with the exception of the presidential ticket, my only choices for the House of Representatives (and for any other political office) will be Democrat versus Democrat.

I don’t like being forced to deny my political self (that is, I don’t like being forced to vote against my own party’s candidate), but pragmatism says that there’s an advantage in using the Open Primary to temper the other party so that there is at least one person who is relatively sane on the ballot.  This, of course, is precisely what Carl Luna (the professor I quoted above) hoped would happen — Republicans will vanish, but they’ll serve the vestigial function of protecting Democrats from their worst excesses.

So I have a question for you:  In June, should I cast a symbolic vote for the Republican Dan Roberts, thereby making a principled stand for my party, or should I vote for Stacy Lawson to help ensure that, when the November election takes place, the top two contenders for U.S. House of Representatives include a Moderate Democrat, rather than two Progressives?

(Incidentally, when it comes to the judges running for Marin County Superior Court this year, I’m not being forced to make the choice between a good Republican who can’t win, and some Democrats, one of whom might be better than the others.  There are only two men running for judge:  Judge James Chou, a moderate Democrat whom Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed to the bench, and Russell Marne, a self-professed Progressive.   As between them, the choice is clear:  It’s the moderate, experienced James Chou all the way.)