Replacing the jungle primary, December edition

 photo via Wikimedia Commons by Rich Niewiroski Jr.

A few weeks ago, I posted “Replacing the jungle primary“, where I outlined a couple of proposals that seemed like plausible replacements for California’s current “top-two” primary system. I assigned both proposals jargon-y names, but I only want to highlight one of them: “Majority Approval Filter (MAF)”.  MAF is my preferred option, and has generated the most discussion.  I’ve been refining this option over the past few weeks, and I want to discuss the new version with a wider audience.

Continue reading “Replacing the jungle primary, December edition”
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Replacing the jungle primary

(originally published November 20, edited November 25; see footnote)

I’m thrilled with the huge win for approval voting in Fargo, North Dakota, where voters overwhelmingly chose approval voting as their voting system for mayoral elections.

I’ve been jealous of Fargo since I learned of that effort. In our primaries here in California, we use a jungle primary to narrow down the field of candidates to the top two in our primary election in June (or rather, our primary in March), and then choose between them in November.

I’ve been mulling over an idea for replacing California’s jungle primary with an approval-based primary.  I think with the system I describe below, we can also replace our two-candidate general election with a approval-based system that occasionally offers a third choice, but I also offer an alternative that only replaces the jungle primary.

Continue reading “Replacing the jungle primary”

Voting Methods in The Perl Journal

tpj-vol1-3-coverBack in 1996, I wrote an article for The Perl Journal, which they published in the Volume 1, Issue 3 in Autumn 1996. There are several alternatives available for the article:

For years, I’ve wanted to have stable redistribution of this article, and a stable URL that I could refer to.  There have been many URLs over the years to refer to this, but nothing too stable.  Well, as of right now, there is a stable URL:

https://robla.net/1996/TPJ

….which, as of this writing, just redirects right back to this blog post.  That’s probably the URL I’ll redistribute from now on.

Debating Oprah

I managed to get into some wordy discussions with MikeMC over on Medium.  Here’s how it played out from my perspective:

I don’t think either of us has convinced one another of anything, but still, that’s where we left things.  I still think Oprah would be a perfectly acceptable choice by Democrats in 2020.  Not my favorite choice, but still, a powerful strategic move.  MikeMC still thinks its a terrible idea.

I’m offering this summary only because I have something vaguely related that I’d like to share, and I’d like to refer back to this discussion.  I hope you enjoyed this summary.

 

Jimmy Carter, populism and Donald Trump

Jimmy and Rosilyn Carter, surprising the crowd by walking instead of riding in a limo (image from Carter Library via National Archives)

Last year, in the early buildup to the election (January 2016), I posted an article on Daily Kos titled “What Donald Trump and Jimmy Carter have in common”. At that time, the Republicans hadn’t settled on Trump yet. Only a contrarian (like me) would suggest that Trump might not merely win the primary, but he might even be able to win the general election. That filled me with dread, but took comfort in the conventional wisdom of the day that Trump couldn’t win.

The comparison of Carter to Trump in 2016 still holds true today in 2017. Though that gave me dread in 2016, it gives me hope in 2017. Let’s revisit the topic, because the subsequent election of 1980 holds lessons about 2020 that feel less dreadful IF we learn from history.

The comparison:

  1. Departed deity that was in charge in the receding party’s glory days
    1976 : FDR (Democratic President: 1933–1945)
    2016 : Reagan (Republican President: 1981–1989)
  2. Party with receding wave
    1976 : Democrats (New Deal)
    2016 : Republicans (supply-side economics)
  3. Party with rising wave
    1976 : Republicans (“government is the problem”)
    2016 : Democrats (“we are the 99%”)
  4. “Obvious” safe choice for party
    1976: Gerald Ford (the White House incumbent)
    2016: Hillary Clinton (“realist” choice)
  5. Candidate riding rising wave
    1976: Reagan (narrowly lost 1976 nomination)
    2016: Sanders (narrowly lost 2016 nomination)
  6. Unlikely party outsider for receding party
    1976: Jimmy Carter
    2016: Trump

Continue reading “Jimmy Carter, populism and Donald Trump”

Western accent?

There’s a fantastic discussion of red state politics on the wellRED podcast interview of Sarah Smarsh by the three hosts of the show. At the 46:00 point in the podcast, the group discusses how they all deliberately chose not to lose their respective accents. Smarsh says as part of journalism school, she needed to learn how to make her voice more “neutral” (a.k.a. “General American” as it’s referred to on Wikipedia). For the three guys (Trae Crowder, Drew Morgan and Corey Ryan Forrester), I can understand the handwringing. Listening to them, even though I find myself agreeing with much of what they say, I have to be mindful of potential bias when I hear their accents.

With Smarsh, it’s different. She grew up in Kansas, which is culturally/linguistically not much different from where I grew up (all over the U.S. west), where my mom grew up (midway between Omaha and Kansas City), and where much of my extended family still is (Kansas City area). As my mom would point out, modern newscasters (of the day) treated the Nebraska accent as a “neutral” accent — and many TV celebrities like Johnny Carson and David Letterman benefited from their upbringing in neutral accent territory.

It may be that my western upbringing is the reason why I don’t detect an appreciable accent, but others would. The only regional aspects of my younger accent that I’m aware of dropping is referring to carbonated beverage as “pop” (I say “soda” now) and treating “pen” and “pin” as homophones (not anymore). Given how minor the changes to my speech have been since moving to the west coast (living in either Seattle or San Francisco since 1993), I haven’t considered my accent to have changed much since I was young.

In the past few years, I’ve gotten more comfortable speaking warmly of my humble-ish upbringing. Further more, I’ve happily adopted “y’all” in spite of not growing up using the phrase. Some of my fondest memories of my dad were of his cowboy-culture way of talking, which wasn’t that different than the cattle cop highlighted on Planet Money a few years ago. Whenever something would splash all over the place, Dad frequently said it “splattered like a cow pissing on a rock”. He implored me to be more mindful by telling me to “get your head out of your ass”. He frequently claimed that many politicians were “crookeder than a dog’s hind leg”. I’ve carried some of his cowboy-isms forward, but I don’t have the same cowboy cred that he did. Plus, I’m prouder of the fact that I was occasionally able to beat Mom at Scrabble in her prime, and pretty sure that anyone reading this would have had about as tough of a time doing it as I did, no matter how much of a smartypants you think you are.

Listening to Smarsh talk about the assumptions that people seemed to make about her that she ascribed to her accent, it makes me wonder: am I deaf to her accent because of my similar upbringing? Do I have a “western” or “midwestern” accent that might have caused the kinds of discrimination they discuss in this show? Have I just been luckier than Smarsh, or am I just blind to being treated like I just fell off the turnip truck?

2017 update

I’ve neglected this blog for a really long time, but it’s not like I haven’t been writing publicly.  A few links to my post 2010 writing:

I’m thinking of importing a few choice bits that I’ve written elsewhere, and put them in the history of this blog.  One of these days, I may even update <http://robla.net>