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.”

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