Why People Hate Politics

political backbitingSB 6 Grants the State Authority to Not Count Certain Votes

A funny thing happened when I filed a lawsuit to stop thousands of voters from being disenfranchised.

According to California Gov. Schwarzenegger and Lt. Gov. Maldonado, that made me a “special interest” and a “party boss.”

This is exactly why many Americans hate politics. Rather than engage in discussion and debate, many politicians find it easier to demonize their opponents, rather than debate the issues.

Let’s take the lawsuit I recently filed on behalf of four voters and two candidates. The issue is simple. If a newly passed California law (SB 6) is allowed to kick in, thousands of voters will be disenfranchised. Why? Because with SB 6, if you cast a vote for a write-in candidate in a general election, your vote will not be counted.

Here’s why our lawsuit really matters. If SB 6 kicks in, California will switch to a radical version of “Top Two” elections. In the primary (first round) election, all state and federal candidates will face off, regardless of the party they belong to. The top two vote-getters then advance to the general election.

Here’s what could happen if SB 6 also covered Presidential elections. Let’s assume Barack Obama and John McCain had been the “top two” candidates to qualify for the November 2008 ballot.

What if McCain had suddenly suffered a stroke and become paralyzed a few weeks before the election? Under SB 6’s rules, Republican voters would have faced a double bind. First, SB 6 would have banned the GOP from replacing McCain. Even worse, if voters had written in the name of another Republican, SB 6 would have thrown away their votes.

Throwing away votes is not only bad policy, but it violates our rights under the United States and California Constitutions. But how could the California Legislature have passed such an appalling bill? Simple. To pass last year’s budget, it needed the vote of then-State Senator Abel Maldonado. His price: Senate Bill 6 (SB 6), which was passed in order to implement Proposition 14.

Why do Messrs. Schwarzenegger and Maldonado want to throw away the votes of thousands of Californians? All we can tell you is that they aren’t too keen to tell us. Perhaps you might have more luck if you called Schwarzenegger or Maldonado.

gautam duttaCalling people you disagree with “girlie men” or “special interests” will not solve any of our State’s problems. But reaching out to them would be a start.

At a time when we’re facing a battered economy and yet another budget crisis, it’s never too late for our leaders to actually lead.

Gautam Dutta

A Yale and Georgetown-educated lawyer, Gautam Dutta specializes in corporate, securities, regulatory/public entity, election, and voting rights law.


  1. says

    Contra some messages in the article and by some other commenters, the disconnect between ordinary citizens and politician officers owes to something deeper than just specific politicians capers or their disinterest in post-facto ‘accountability’ (which anyhow at best results in locking barns after horses are stolen).

    Rather, the disconnect owes to the extreme imbalance of power in an oligarchic republic – which is the obsolete but deliberate constitutional design of our USA regimes. A relative few long-serving politician officers have nearly all the public policy (including legal) decision power, and ordinary citizens have just about none.

    Mass voting is a populist veneer which serves to distract ordinary citizens from this reality. The truth about voting, however, is that in a typical mass election your vote will likely be ‘meaningless’ in result, even when it is fully ‘counted’. Indeed, what is the probability that your vote will make any difference to the outcome? In a mass election, even a heated two-sided contest where registered-voter sentiment is evenly balanced, probability is for practical purposes nil. As a PhD mathematician I can supply specific calculations.

    A politician may be impressed by your real or imagined sizable voting BLOC, but has no need for or fear of your individual vote. Even without SB 6 or yet other ways to further promote wastage of your vote, your vote already is wasted.

    It may be tempting to focus major reform effort on our mass voting methods, but – no matter how ‘reformed’ – mass voting is merely a veneer for oligarchy, which is the real problem. Besides contradicting democracy, oligarchy is a great recipe for both corruption and irrational decision-making. With the same few officers holding a lot of decision power for a long time, it becomes both worthwhile and easy for special-interest corrupters to target them; with the same few officers required to make all of many decisions, there is scant time for due deliberation.

  2. Marshall says

    I will say that you presented your opinions with class, no vile words for anyone as I could see. I do not like voters not having their votes count. I understand your write in problem and may see how that works in my state. There is one class of voters that vote from afar, in lands other than America. I hope you will give them your support because if any group of citizens should have a vote, it is our military that are far away from their homes.

  3. in_awe says

    The past two years in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. have been horrifying to any citizen paying attention to how comfortable the political and judicial elite has become to ignoring the will of the voters and the Constitution.

    Unfortunately, many voters once turned off by these shenanigans will decide that voting is meaningless so why bother. Instead of encouraging higher levels of voter participation, these acts may further suppress the participation of Joe & Sally Lunchbox in elections. This encourages more disrespectful behavior from the elites and a vicious spiral is established which ultimately leaves us with an authoritarian government and judiciary.

    Will the American citizenry acquiesce to this treatment and trend, or rise up and demand more accountability from our elected officials and government administrators? We are at a watershed moment in this republic.

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