The emerging California Fusion Party

June 18, 2012

By Wayne Lusvardi

Most people are familiar with the term “fusion” as a type of restaurant that combines Hawaiian, Asian and American types of food. But with the recent top-two primary election on June 5, California is gradually moving to a system of electoral fusion.  It could be called a de facto Fusion Party, where the party exercises power without being officially established.

Political fusion is an arrangement where two parties on a ballot list the same candidate.  Fusion has been outlawed in many states.

A version of fusionism emerging in California is this under the new Top Two system, which voters approved under Proposition 14 back in 2010. The majority party floods election ballots with at least two of its candidates. Then it only allows the minority party to influence election results by endorsing one of the major party’s candidates.  Another name for political fusion is cross-endorsement.

Voters Fooled Again

Prop. 10 and Top Two were promoted as advancing moderate candidates, supposedly ending the ultra-partisan bickering that has characterized state politics in recent years.

But few moderate candidates advanced to the runoff election on June 5.  In State Assembly District 41 in Pasadena, for example, pro-business Democratic candidate Victoria Rusnak could not overcome union-backed city councilman Chris Holden, a Democrat, or Tea Party candidate Donna Lowe, a Republican, despite Rusnak putting $200,000 of her own money into the campaign.

And in one case, a Republican challenger for State Assembly District 27 in Ventura with more than 50 percent of the vote, Todd Zink, has been forced into a runoff election with  Democrat environmental extremist Fran Pavley, a termed-out state senator. She was a major backer of Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

California primary elections are becoming like the Pacific 12 Football Conference playoffs.  If a team wins the Southern Division and beat the Northern Division champion during the regular season, they still may have to beat them a second time in a playoff game to determine the conference champion.

How the Fusion Party Emerged from Political Extortion

The top-two primary was touted as a way to reduce political extremism.  What it’s turning into is as a way to compel Republicans to vote for either of two Democrats.

Prop. 14 eliminated third parties, banned write-in candidates, created false competitive districts and erased Republicans from general elections. Voters should have recognized something was rotten when Prop. 14 was oddly supported by the California Chamber of Commerce Political Advisory Committee and opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the California League of Conservation voters.  Normally, voters would think this would have been the other way around.

No Checks on Power — No Democracy

So what California will eventually end up with from a Top Two Primary system and redistricting is no more check on power by the opposing Republican Party. There will be no check on the plundering of the middle class and small business by a trifecta of government, unions and big corporations.   As Steven Greenhut perceptively explains in his article, “California Ushers in a New Era of Bipartisan Plunder,” redistricting and the Top-Two Primary will lead to:

(1) Democrats gaining a solid two-thirds majority is both houses of the Legislature, where they will have the power to tax at will;
(2) Control of the power of taxation will be by unions ,not moderate legislators;
(3) Corporate support for higher taxation for large infrastructure projects such as the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the Peripheral Canal.

The few will be enriched mainly at the expense of private middle-class taxpayers.  Government and schools may be again “fully funded,” pensions may not be reformed or could eventually be restored to lucrative levels and big engineering companies would reap windfalls.   But public electric utilities, large private industries, small businesses and homeowners will get clobbered from higher taxation, mandated higher green power rates and California’s Cap and Trade emissions tax.   The overall economy will get worse, while those politically connected will do better.

Usurping Democracy

It is never easy to overthrow a democracy; and harder to replace it even with a fusion form of government sold to the public as a way to reduce political dysfunction.  Social institutions possess a massive amount of bureaucratic inertia that takes years to change. Election reform has been bouncing around since the 1990’s.

In a democratic republic, the three branches of the state — legislative, executive and judicial — are separate.  They may even at times work at cross-purposes to balance each other.  In a politically fused form of government, these organs must be deprived of their relative independence and reorganized with a clear chain of command directly to the fusers in power.

Californian Ambrose Bierce once wrote his “The Devil’s Dictionary”:

“GNOSTICS, n. A sect of philosophers who tried to engineer a fusion between the early Christians and the Platonists. The former would not go into the caucus and the combination failed, greatly to the chagrin of the fusion managers.”

The culture of these organizations must also be reformed and reorganized so the primary loyalty is to the new political fusion or coalition hiding behind the Legislature than to those in the institutions they serve.  Progressive era organizational independence and professionalism must be subtly supplanted. Fusion leaders do not want to be loved or feared, but paid.

If coercing existing bureaucracies fails, then parallel institutions must gradually take over the functions of the state.  Hence we have the Delta Stewardship Council and a number of entities created by ballot initiatives to benefit government bond entrepreneurs: the Institute for Regenerative Medicine for stem cell research, the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the independent state lottery system.  Who knows how many more parallel unaccountable entities are to come with new redistricting and Top Two primaries?

A democratic republic is being undermined not only by a coalition of unions with big banks, big engineering corporations and bond entrepreneurs but also by duped voters. “The people, when deceived by a false notion of the good, often desires its own ruin,” wrote Machiavelli 500 years ago.

Voters must either be disenfranchised or their votes channeled for candidates chosen by power elites. Democracy means “the rule of the people.”  Hence, it follows that it is the people who have the most to lose.

In a hybrid fusion form of government, candidates do not need as much a broad base of popularity to win office.  Voting must subtly shift from “consent of the taxed and the governed” to a “consensus” of the beneficiaries.

Machiavelli again: “All laws made in favor of freedom arise from the disunion — or de-fusing — between the People and the Elites.”

22 comments

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  1. us citizen
    us citizen 18 June, 2012, 13:15

    So once again, Ca is screwed. I couldnt believe it actually could get worse.

    Reply this comment
  2. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 18 June, 2012, 14:08

    Like I have been saying for years now, it has to get a lot worse in this state before it can get better. And I’m not assuming it will get better in the long run. But you can bank on the fact that it will get worse, a lot worse in the short run. This article just skims over the surface of Kalifornia’s dysfunction.

    When the Demagoguecrats get their two-thirds legislative majority this November that will open the door to a flurry of new union approved tax increases that will leave the state’s tax payers in a daze and it’s economy in shambles. Get used to it people, that nausea inducing motion sickness you’re experiencing is Kalifornia circling the drain hole on the way down to oblivion.

    Reply this comment
  3. Even So
    Even So 18 June, 2012, 16:03

    Several years ago Mr. Lusvardi penned a critique of an editorial critiquing an editorial by the Pacific Institute. In the preamble to its published response the Pacific Institute suggests ” ..Lusvardi’s attack against our essay is characterized by intentional distortions, simple errors, misquotations, misleading logic, and ad hominem attacks”. http://www.pacinst.org/publications/essays_and_opinion/cvp_op-ed_response.htm

    After reading this more current column I am inclined to think it is his preferred style. He is either simply unknowledgeable of the races he cites or lacks the capacity for analysis. In AD 47, the candidate who self-funded to the tune of $200,000 plus had never run for office before, had seldom bothered to vote; was running as a Democrat having registered as a Democrat just days before she filed to run for office; and had supported Republican candidates in high rofile state and national elections. The fact that she self-identified herself as a business-friendly Democrat yet was not a convincing candidate in the Democratic district is hardly a damning outcome of the top two primary.

    The other race he cites – SD 27 – Todd Zink and Fran Pavley were the only two candidates on the ballot in the Primary Election. Of course they will face each other in the General Election. In both of these districts a Democrat and a Republican candidate will face off in the fall. This is not the apocalyptic outcome the will “compel Republicans to vote for either of two Democrats.” What is notable about the primary election results in SD 27 is that Todd Zink – a political new-comer – out-polled former Assebmlt member Fran Pavley.

    Far more insightful analysts have noted that two Republicans will be facing off in Congressional District 31 (a Democratic Majority district) ; or that Congressman Pete Stark (D-CD15) will face a General Election challenge for the first time on decades by Democrat Eric Swalwell.

    There are many lessons to be gleaned from this first election under the new top two primary riles and the new legislative districts created by the Citizen’s Redistricting Commission. Mr. Lusvardi’ column does nothing to help discover those lessons.

    Reply this comment
  4. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 18 June, 2012, 16:08

    Evan
    When was the last time YOU beat your wife? Is this all you have?
    And where is the so-called ad hominem personal attack?
    Please get a life.
    WL

    Reply this comment
  5. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 18 June, 2012, 16:11

    Even So
    Your comment reminds me of the lawyer who has no defense for his client and can only bang the table. If you have some remarks for a rational conversation on the issues fine and dandy. Otherwise your comments in incoherent and reflective of the accusations you project on others. But apparently I must have hit the nail on the head to get this type of diversionary response.
    WL

    Reply this comment
  6. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 18 June, 2012, 16:14

    I always enjoy attacks from those making accusations who remain anonymous. Your comments are not credible without disclosing your identity. Let’s see — let’s make a guess – your a union hack?

    Reply this comment
  7. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 18 June, 2012, 16:19

    Modus operandi of Peter Gleick

    Reply this comment
  8. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 18 June, 2012, 16:23

    Well Dr. Gleick
    Did you fabricate a document and perpetrate a hoax?

    Reply this comment
  9. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 18 June, 2012, 16:43

    I think it’s hilarious that anyone would resort to using the pseudoscientific quacks at Pacific Institute to attack someone’s credibility. This is the same radical environmentalist think tank that just “investigated” it’s disgraced President and all around academic fraud Peter Gleick for orchestrating the notorious Heartland Institute scam. Not surprisingly Gleick got a pass from his radical colleagues at P.I.

    These people (I use the term with reservation) are the lowest form of life on the planet. A tapeworm has more ethical integrity. They stoop to using academically fraudulent tactics like lying to obtain confidential internal information and creating and distributing fake defamatory documents to smear their opponents. Then when the fit hits the shan they investigate themselves and surprise, they find nothing! This is what happens when science is perverted to serve secular statist religions like environmentalism and other primitive forms of earth worshipping animism.

    Reply this comment
  10. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 18 June, 2012, 21:00

    Here is what some researchers came up with in possibly identifying the source of the comments.

    My source is pointing to Jim Nygren of Nygren political consulting in El Dorado, California who does opposition research, lobbying, and fund raising. Nygren is involved with Alliance for Tomorrow which is composed of professionals, hospitals, real estate developers, and unions who are pro-tax. This would tend to prove my thesis of a fusion of union interests with professionals and corporate interests.

    Here is what my source tells me:

    FYI, your attack commenter “Even So” is probably the same person who wrote the comment below on your CWD Rusnak article from Feb 2012. The comments here are the same as those that appeared in the “Alliance for California’s Tomorrow” attack ads:

    truthbeknown says:
    May 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm
    She’s actually a pro-biz Republican who switched parties on paper just before putting her name in the ring. She supported Meg Whitman, and actually has rarely voted at all according the the LA registrar of voters.She doesn’t know much about politics but a lot about her daddy’s car business.
    http://www.calwatchdog.com/2012/02/21/pro-biz-cal-democrats-emerging/

    “Alliance for California’s Tomorrow — nothing more than an slush fund for special interests — is the brainchild of Sacramento Republican consultant Jim Nygren, who raised $698,000 so far this year to successfully influence the outcomes of three races, all of them to help candidates endorsed by the Democratic Party: Holden, state Sen. Rod Wright in the South Bay’s 35th District, and Raul Bocanegra in the northeast San Fernando Valley’s 43rd Assembly District.
    The money for Alliance for California’s Tomorrow’s independent expenditures came from dentists and eye surgeons, Blue Shield, the Farm Bureau, the Personal Insurance Federation, real estate and developer interests, apartment owners, even a labor union — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.”
    http://articles.pasadenasun.com/2012-06-09/opinion/32144871_1_city-councilman-chris-holden-kinde-durkee-ron-kaye

    Jim Nygren
    3470 Park Drive
    El Dorado Hills, CA

    Services Provided:
    Direct Mail
    General Consulting and Strategy
    Opposition Research
    TV and/or Radio Ads

    Reply this comment
  11. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 18 June, 2012, 21:22

    The California Fair Political Practices Commission provides the following information on The Alliance for California’s Tomorrow:

    #8 Alliance for California’s Tomorrow, A California Business Coalition(ID #1262979)Total Independent Expenditure Spending — $806,665
    The largest independent expenditures by the Alliance were made on behalf of Curren Price (D) in the 26th Senate District special election ($669,465) and Linda Ackerman (R) in the 72nd Assembly District special election ($137,200). The largest contributors to Alliance for California’s Tomorrow were JobsPAC ($215,000) and Californians for Jobs and A Strong Economy ($115,000).

    Reply this comment
  12. Donkey
    Donkey 18 June, 2012, 21:44

    Great read Wayne!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  13. Ron Kilmartin
    Ron Kilmartin 18 June, 2012, 21:59

    When is it too late to get a proposition on the ballot to overturn Proposition 14? Does anyone know where the Jarvis group is on this?

    Reply this comment
  14. Fred Mangels
    Fred Mangels 18 June, 2012, 22:09

    Keep in mind Steve(?) Peace, one of the main players in creating the top two primary, has his sights set on campaign finance reform now. It sounds like the same old stuff about taking the money out of politics. We’ll need to keep a close eye on that effort.

    Reply this comment
  15. Fred Mangels
    Fred Mangels 18 June, 2012, 22:17

    For those that aren’t aware of Peace’s effort, here’s the Sacramento Bee story where I first heard of it: http://tinyurl.com/bopy926

    Reply this comment
  16. Rachel
    Rachel 19 June, 2012, 06:54

    Todd Zink is running for State Senate, not Assembly, and will be our next State Senator!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  17. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 19 June, 2012, 08:24

    Wayner— “even so” kind of nailed ya little buddy.

    Reply this comment
  18. Dave Wielenga
    Dave Wielenga 19 June, 2012, 08:52

    Mr. Lusvardi,
    I, for one, am grateful for the clarity provided by the commenter self-nicknamed Even So—saved me the time and trouble of fact-checking what I had struck me as a fascinating perspective that we were going to link to from GreaterLongBeach.com. Even So’s disagreement with you was obvious, but the evidence he added to the examples you cited in making your point not only collapsed your argument but also your trustworthiness. Beyond that, he remained clear and civil in his remarks. Your series of rapid-fire responses were not only unnecessarily personal but unfocused and ineffective—except in making Even So’s position with even more persuasive. That is, he not only has the advantage in facts, but also in integrity. Needless to say, we won’t be linking to your piece.

    Reply this comment
  19. queeg
    queeg 19 June, 2012, 11:56

    Get ready to open your money bag…..you will see moderation in radical right thinking on financing California’s safety and security net.

    It’s time to move forward with bullet train which will make the postal service more efficient, cut pollution, dramatically improve land use policy and cut commuting time and costs per miled travelled.

    Reply this comment
  20. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 19 June, 2012, 14:47

    The future Wayne describes sounds likely.
    Guerilla tactics against the special interests, anyone?
    Car bombings at the Capital? Kidnappings? ‘Public servants” afraid to send their spawn to the Charter schools they pulled strings to admit the little darlings. I have said it the past. Sections of Kalifornia will resemble “Mad Max” within 15 years. The state will have no money to stop it; the rest of the country will say “Go to hell, live in the mess you made, Kalifornia.”

    Reply this comment
  21. Burrito Bro
    Burrito Bro 19 June, 2012, 15:48

    I’m getting uncomfortabe with the radical right.

    Reply this comment
  22. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 19 June, 2012, 17:12

    I received this email and am passing it along. It sounds like more “buy a legislator” only this is the “fusion” version.

    Just wanted to add before I drop the subject completely that apparently Nygren’s “Alliance for California’s Tomorrow” and other such “independent expenditure” PACs spend last-minute floods of money only on candidates who can be relied upon to vote for lobbyist-written bills which favor the lobbyists’ corporate clients. Doesn’t matter if the candidates are Democrat or Republican.
    Just one example (there are others of course) is that Alliance et al’s last-minute money funded 39th A.D. candidate Raul Bocanegra BECAUSE he is a protege of current 39th District Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (who is now running for L.A. City Council), many of whose bills “were ghostwritten by special interest groups.” Even the L.A. Weekly named him “the worst legislator in California.”
    http://ronkayela.com/2012/06/bocanegra-fuentes-padilla-and-the-game-of-special-interest-money-sponsored-legislation-and-political-musical-chairs.html

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