Lessons from the Left Coast Primaries

On the minds of Left Coast voters are some major concerns, which happened to be revealed in California’s recent primary elections.

It’s been said, “As California goes, so goes the nation,” so it may be that California’s primaries are also a foreshadowing of things to come in November’s general midterm elections.

Democratic Party turnout in the Golden State was dismal this time around. It may be an indication that liberal and even moderate Dems are experiencing a lack of enthusiasm.

At the same time, the primary election results showed that Republicans and Independents are deeply concerned over rising crime rates, exorbitant gas prices, and soaring food and housing costs.

Two of the Left Coast’s largest cities let their electoral voices be heard loud and clear.

In San Francisco, a far-left prosecutor was actually recalled. The electoral earthquake occurred when voters overwhelmingly chose to terminate District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s job right in the middle of his first term.

Boudin, a public defender-turned-district attorney was fired via a recall election, primarily for his policies of non-prosecution of criminal activity, lenient sentencing of criminals, and abolishment of cash bail, all of which resulted in a horrific spike in violent crime.

The ousting of Boudin should serve as a warning signal for politicians and government officials, apart from political affiliations. Those who promote, pursue, and implement policies that de-fund law enforcement agencies, reduce sentences of convicted felons, release back into society those who have not yet completed their prison time, eliminate cash bail, and abuse prosecutorial discretion may be in for a day of reckoning.

Boudin’s removal may also be a predictor for another elected official, one in Los Angeles County. A campaign is underway to recall District Attorney George Gascón, who appears to be cut from the same left-leaning political cloth as the aforementioned San Francisco prosecutor.

Before Gascón set his sights on destroying the criminal justice system in Los Angeles, he was Boudin’s predecessor as the district attorney of San Francisco.

The primary elections in Los Angeles were illuminating, particularly when it came to the mayoral race. Real estate developer Rick Caruso, a former Republican, came in first, with Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass finishing second. The two are set to face one another in November, and right now Caruso appears to have an edge in the upcoming race.

Caruso left the Republican Party in 2019 and registered as a Democrat in 2022. He ran a campaign that emphasized a tough on crime position and a determination to address the homeless crisis.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, who survived a recall vote in 2021, was able to avoid any serious competition in the recent primary election, partially due to the unusual manner in which the state currently conducts its primaries. This November, Newsom will face the second-place primary election finisher, GOP state lawmaker Brian Dahle.

A whole lot of voters who participated in the Golden State’s primary were understandably confused by the ballot. What they saw, in addition to the incumbent Newsom’s name, was a dizzying array of 27 gubernatorial candidates, 14 of which were labeled as Republicans. Those who, prior to casting their votes, researched the candidates’ qualifications and positions on issues had quite a difficult and time-consuming challenge.

It wasn’t always like this. Years ago, via a ballot initiative, voters eliminated conventional closed primaries and replaced them with a so-called blanket primary system. Consequently, all candidates appeared on the same ballot in the form of a list. The top vote-getter from each party advanced to the general election.

The Supreme Court actually struck down this system, saying that it violated a political party’s First Amendment right of association. However, with a push from then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, California voters passed a new electoral initiative for something called the “top-two” open primary system.

In this system, all candidates on the list from all political parties, along with non-affiliated candidates, appear on the same ballot, with the top two finishers, regardless of party, advancing to the November general election.

This system and other types of open primaries frequently have unintended consequences that seriously undermine the main purpose of primary elections – to afford political parties the opportunity to pick their own candidates.

The conventional closed primary limits participation strictly to those who are designated party members. This concept relates to the previously mentioned right of free association contained in the Constitution.

Open primary laws violate the freedom of association of a political party, because they force a party to allow outsiders to select its candidates, a patently unfair and non-representative construct. Such primaries enable members of opposing political parties to subvert the nominating process.

Additionally, the California top-two primary system and similar designs oftentimes create circumstances that are disturbingly disenfranchising to voters.

In 2016, listed on the primary ballot in a run for U.S. Senate were 34 candidates. The top two finishers ended up being members of the same Democratic Party.

The top two vote-getters happened to be Loretta Sanchez and the now-Vice President Kamala Harris. Both emerged from the Senate primary as the lone candidates listed on the general election ballot. Their political parties, ideological positions, and policy proposals were, for the most part, identical.

This left voters with no real choice. However, Harris had the party backing, and she ended up winning the senate seat in a low turnout election.

The top-two primary system hasn’t delivered the increase in voter turnout that its proponents promised either. Since 2012, when the top-two rules took effect, turnout in primaries has averaged just 37.6% of registered voters.

In the recent primary, only 16% of the roughly 22 million mail-in ballots sent to voters were cast, and based on the count thus far experts believe the final turnout will be a record low.

Conversely, in a conventional closed primary system the top vote-getter from each partymoves on to the general election, thereby giving voters a bona fide choice.

This is what a functioning republic looks like.

Maybe it’s time for another visit to the Supreme Court.

The Biden Masquerade

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Joe Biden is currently the frontrunner in an ever growing Democratic presidential primary pack.

However, the time honored maxim of history repeating itself may apply when it comes to the former vice president’s third bid for the Oval Office.

Biden’s campaign speechwriters have been tasked with keeping his stump speeches as lofty and broad as possible. One of the clearest examples of this can be found in Biden’s frequently repeated campaign promise to “restore the soul of this country.”

In his rhetoric, he carefully avoids making mention of any specific policy position. Instead he mouths hack political phrases, conveying ideas regarding a supposed return to “unity” and “bipartisanship.” Lost in his words is any semblance of truth about the administration in which he played a major role, an administration that, among other things, left a legacy of having severely polarized the nation along race, class, and cultural lines.

Biden’s latest campaign has come up with a fictional crisis, one of a “soulless” nation that is in need of fixing. His campaign is doing everything it can to avoid the simple fact that the Biden candidacy carries with it an enormous amount of baggage. The former senator and vice president happens to be the embodiment of establishment politics. In addition, he is an apologist for a massive federal bureaucracy.

The third-time presidential hopeful has been in the political business for an astounding fifty years. He apparently believes that he is just the guy who will be able fix things, even things that over the last half century he helped to break in the first place.

Not only does Biden represent to the Democrat electorate the old ways of doing things, his age is a relevant issue. If he were to be elected, he would be kicking off his presidency at the seasoned age of 78. While there is a lot to be said for senior power, at some point a reality check becomes a prudent option.

The Democratic Party’s energy currently resides in its left wing, and many of its activist members are feeling tepid about Biden’s entry into the race, due to his long record as a politician. The titular leader of the Democrat left, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D – N.Y., has already dismissed the notion of a Biden nomination,

“This idea that we can go back to the good old days with Obama, with Obama’s vice president I think, you know, there is an emotional element to that. But I don’t want to go back. I want to go forward.”

Ocasio-Cortez and her likeminded allies do not like that Biden opposed busing to end segregated public schools, voted for the Iraq war, supported the job-killing trade agreements, supported a draconian crime bill, and displayed a prosecutorial attitude toward Anita Hill during the 1991 Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.

Two important issues with which Biden must contend that continue to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of primary voters are as follows: 1) a pattern of inappropriate behavior toward women and girls, much of which has been captured on video recordings; 2) a penchant for making serious gaffes.

Biden has a history of failed presidential campaigns. His first one came to an end due to a plagiarism scandal. His second one ended as the result of his having finished in fifth place in the Iowa caucuses.

Still, the Dem frontrunner’s biggest problems may be the serious scandals that are swirling around him. These would typically be ignored by the mainstream media. However, because of the more than twenty Democratic opponents in the field, many of whom are well liked by the media, press coverage of the scandals is likely to ensue.

Two stories that have already been publicly exposed involve transactions with the Ukraine and China. The China scandal has received coverage in two mainstream media organizations that would not typically be revealing stories that might be harmful to a Democrat candidate.

The New York Times and Vanity Fair both reported on Biden, when he was vice president, as having conducted high-level diplomacy with Beijing days before a $1.5 billion deal was made with his son Hunter Biden’s private equity firm, secured from the state-owned Bank of China. This may explain why Biden recently brushed aside the idea that China poses a danger to the U.S.

“China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man…. They can’t even figure out how to deal with the fact that they have this great division between the China Sea and the mountains in the east, I mean in the west,” Biden said.

During his term as vice president, Biden’s son Hunter was being investigated in the Ukraine after landing a high-paying job at a major Ukrainian energy company. Biden reportedly used taxpayer money and the power of his office to have the lead prosecutor on the case fired.

Known for speaking before thinking, Biden boasted about the misuse of power.

“We’re not going to give you the billion dollars,” he said. “They said, ‘You have no authority. You’re not the president.’ I said, ‘Call him.’ I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting a billion dollars.’ I said, ‘You are not getting a billion. I will be leaving here,’ and I think it was, what, six hours. I looked and I said, ‘Leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a b—h got fired.”