I saw this tweet from a liberal Philadelphia blogger a while ago, and I have to admit that it’s interesting to ponder. Granted, unlike the blogger who would appear to view it as a good thing to have the most senior (aka most entrenched and least accountable) members of the political parties choosing their candidates, my thoughts about this are a bit more like, “Oh my Lord, hell no. No way, no how would I trust any political party leadership to be the only source of my choices.”
House results show why we need party-list PR. Names of House candidates shouldn’t even appear on the ballot, just party names.
— Keystone Politics (@keystonepol) November 7, 2012
Now, I realize that many third party supporters would argue that happens already. Except that it doesn’t happen at all for House members. Even in special elections where party officials pick the only nominees to appear on the ballot, the voters still get to decide on the actual person they vote for in the end. They see a name running for Congress and they actually make their decision to vote on whether to send that exact person to represent them in the House or Senate.*
I’m appalled enough by the button on Pennsylvania voting machines that allows people to blindly vote by party instead of making the effort to even look at what is on the ballot, but this is like an extreme of a voting tradition that Clayton Cramer described in the comments to that post:
In the 19th century, big cities in the East were so awash in illiterate immigrants that the Democrats made sure that party symbols were on ballots.
I think what baffles me is that I don’t understand why some people want to encourage such extreme low information voting. I’d like to encourage people to be more involved in civic life, not make it so that they don’t have to give a passing thought to any issue or election.
*The electoral college, obviously, is a situation where you’re voting for different people from the party who are not actually on the ballot, but I wouldn’t be opposed to putting the names of the pledged electors on the ballot alongside the candidates seeking the presidency. In fact, I would encourage it as a matter of both transparency and promoting civic literacy.