Eliminate partisan gridlock

Guest CommentaryAugust 20, 2013 

The political arena in California and elsewhere is packed with who can shout the loudest and spend the most from the far sides of the political ideology spectrum.

The rest of us, the majority, sit quietly on the sidelines. Call us moderates, centralists, even independents. We are the largest voting bloc, political or otherwise. It is estimated that 40%-plus voters fall directly into this category. Slightly right of center, we are fiscal conservatives who also sport a socially moderate moniker. We strongly believe what is right for California is and will be right for just about all Californians.

The silence has been broken in California by the passage of the top two primary winners and redistricting.

Proposition 14, passed in 2010, threw open the door that effectively barred the middle from political participation. Your party registration no longer restricts you from selecting a party nominee that may advance to the general election, but rather your vote can advance the best candidate regardless of party affiliation to the general election.

Formerly registered Decline to State, now No Party Preference, did not participate in party primary nominations. Many in the middle were left voiceless, resulting in the strengthening of the political extremes. Propositions 11 (2008) and 20 (2010) suddenly made legislative districts more competitive, much to the dismay of many incumbent politicians. It is true that redistricting has caused same political party candidates in some general elections, but it is widely agreed the election process is fairer.

Although none of the 35 No Party PrJeference candidates (of which I was one) was elected in last year's congressional, state Senate and Assembly races, several did make it out of the primary to the general election.

No Party Preference candidates and voter numbers are growing in California. As Republican and Democrat registration continues to decline (29% and 44% respectively), approximately 21% of registered voters now identify themselves as No Party Preference. If the increases of NPP and declines of Republican voter registration continue, the NPP will within the decade become the second largest voting bloc in California.

I encourage voters who have not registered with No Party Preference to do so. I believe this will encourage voters to make independent, nonpartisan decisions resulting in a more efficient and effective group of elected leaders willing to make the difficult decisions that take into consideration the beliefs and rights of all Californians.

If you feel as strongly as I do about eliminating the partisan gridlock please join me in saying "no" to political party ideologies and "yes" to a balanced and compromising form of governance.

—Mark Belden, of Railroad Flat in Calaveras County, ran for the 5th Assembly District in the 2012 election. The seat won by former Madera County District 1 Supervisor Frank Bigelow (R - O'Neals).

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