What's the difference between one party rule and a two party system? One party. Cuba apologists insist their political system is very democratic, with "the people" involved every step of the way. No matter that the Castros regularly hit 99 percent in parliamentary elections. They are the 99 percent after all. American candidates aren't so lucky, even though in the aggregate they might be. 2010's incumbency rate of 85 percent was the lowest in a decade, and the cause for much pearl-clutching among the political class. You'd think Richard Lugar was driven out of the House of Lords by the hoi polloi given some of the reaction. Why should he have to campaign after all? First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974, Lugar received at least two-thirds of the state vote in every re-election since 1988 before Richard Mourdock defeated him by a nearly two-to-one margin in this year's primary.
Thanks in part to gerrymandering and in part to the power of pork barrel spending, the House is full of members who regularly hit 70, 80 and even 90 percent of the vote. With Congress' collective approval rating consistently under 20 percent, it's hard to buy the argument that somehow the parts are so much greater than the whole.
But winning with 70 point margins doesn't mean you can open the floodgates to ballot access. Take one of Philadelphia's congressmen, Chaka Fattah, who has not won with less than 84 percent of the vote since first being elected in 1996 (even hitting a Castro-level 98 percent in 2000 when his only opponent was a Libertarian).The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a 69-year-old newspaper editor filed a 125 page petition to get on the ballot and challenge Fattah as an independent. His petition was rejected because another member of his party (the non-existent lower case i independent party) had already filed. From the Inquirer:
"I am the antithesis of a party," said the 69-year-old Germantown newspaper editor. "I am an independent political person, and I want to run that way.
A Commonwealth Court hearing is scheduled for Thursday on [Jim] Foster's request to have his name put on the ballot. He also is asking the court to throw out the petitions of Philadelphian Robert J. Ogborn, who filed as an "Independent" candidate last Tuesday, the day before Foster.
"I was set up," Foster said.
Foster said he suspected that Democratic Party officials and the Fattah campaign were behind a scheme to keep him off the ballot…
Until recently, Ogborn acknowledged, he was a registered Democrat, but he said he knew nothing of Foster's candidacy and had no idea he had bumped him off the ballot…
At issue is the use of independent. Foster said he had no affiliation—political or otherwise—with Ogborn, 63, of Roxborough. Foster said he filed as an independent—with an emphatically lowercase i.
Excluding Foster from the ballot was nothing personal, said Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman. "We're just following the law," he said.
The state prohibits nominees of the same party or parties with similar-sounding names to appear on general-election ballots, lest voters become confused.
Voters might be less confused if there were only one name on the ballot. Just saying!
H/T Dan Pearson