Five new posts from the Lion of the Left:
The Supreme Court of India has ruled Indian voters have the right to reject all candidates on a given ballot. The court ruled the category of "none of the above" can be included as an option on ballots and Indian voters can legally reject all candidates offered by various political parties in a given election. Activists say this is the first step towards a system where if "none of the above" receives over 50% of votes cast, new elections would be called with new candidates on the ballot. HUZZAH !!!! to the activists and court.
How many times have you heard, or expressed yourself, there is no one to vote "for" anymore in politics? Voters are constantly being asked to "choose the lesser of two evils...the devil you know vs. the devil you don't...hold your nose and choose someone" in recent local and national elections. American voters are not offered candidates who truly differ or candidates who inspire them. Instead, after a political process which rewards negative campaigning, attacks ads and character assassination, they are left with little stomach for either person left standing and many opt out of voting at all.
Imagine, however, an election where at the bottom of the ballot was the box for "none of the above". Imagine if a majority of voters check "none of the above" and the election is invalidated, the candidates cannot run again and new ones have to be offered. This would be a total game changer. Political parties would have to completely revamp their vetting and choices of candidates. The candidates themselves would have to be more moderate. They couldn't afford to alienate a large portion of the electorate. Voters would embrace new power and the Americans who have opted out of voting after years of parties not fielding candidates which inspire and motivate, would be able to change the process. The current practice of "carpet bombing" your opponent with negative, and in many cases untrue, accusations could poison the well for all candidates, with voters saying, "a pox on both of your houses or all of your houses" and rejecting the entire slate.
Being able to vote for "none of the above" would increase voter participation dramatically. No one is held hostage anymore...no one has to feel they have no choice...no one has to reward one mudslinger over another. Voting would become a positive experience again and voters would know their voice would be heard even if it were a call to throw 'em all out and start again.
Political parties would have to scrap their current nomination model. They would have to seek candidates with positive messages and concrete proposals. Paying lip service to various constituencies...pandering to them...would be such a negative it would drive the number of NOTA voters to come out in droves. Where you could really see the effect of this change would be elections with low turnouts. Conventional wisdom says low turnout elections mean just get your people out...just motivate your voters...just tailor your message for them while attacking your opponent and drive up his or her negatives and drive down the turnout of the other side's voters. However, if "none of the above" is an option, those tactics easily could backfire resulting in a negative electorate eager to punish both sides.
What would members of Congress, facing re-election in 2014, be thinking today with the government shut down knowing how angry American voters are about Washington politicians who don't appear to be able to do even the most basic jobs they were elected to perform? What would the fear factor be if Democrats and Republicans knew there was no such thing as a "safe" district and they could face an electorate primed to throw all the bums out? Would there even be a government shutdown, or worrying about raising the debt ceiling, if the House and Senate knew they could lose their jobs because people aren't limited to the incumbent or challenger?
Yes, I know the idea might be pie-in-the-sky speculation and doesn't have much of a chance of coming to fruition, but a proposal which forces parties to choose better candidates...a mechanism which promises the mad dash to the political bottom will no longer produce rewards...an idea which encourages people to vote even if all it does is cause a do-over...this is something worthy of dreaming and something worth exploring. If India, why not here?