I’ve decided to form a political party in the United States with the sole purpose of voting against all incumbents whenever certain benchmarks of government performance are not met. For example, if the United States drives over the fiscal cliff without a deal, that would trigger a vote against all incumbents for national office. But if a budget deal is reached, and other benchmarks of basic competence are also achieved, members of the Anti-Incumbent Party would be encouraged to vote for anyone they liked.
The fiscal cliff is the most glaring example of a broken government. But I’m sure we could come up with other benchmarks for performance that are equally non-partisan. The Anti-Incumbent Party would only insist that the government make decisions that are backed by data and some degree of intellectual integrity. We won’t micromanage beyond that level. If the government makes timely decisions and clearly explains its reasoning, that’s all we ask. We’re looking for basic competence in the system, not specific outcomes.
We probably only need about ten percent of current voters to join the Anti-Incumbent Party to control the outcome of most elections. That seems fairly doable at the moment because most voters agree that the current system isn’t working. And let’s agree that the Anti-Incumbent Party will only exist as a psychological phenomenon and not a legal entity. That cuts down on a lot of paperwork and expense. To be a member of the Anti-Incumbent Party you simply have to want in. That’s it. You can even continue to be a member of whatever other party you are in. The Anti-Incumbent Party doesn’t mind your dual membership because we won’t be holding any primaries or conventions.
We probably need a website. The site would be designed to solicit opinions and manage voting on the benchmarks of competence. The top five most popular benchmarks will become the platform and change as often as circumstances require.
In our current system, we vote for individual candidates based on what we perceive as their competence. But we don’t get a chance to vote for the team of elected officials that form our government. The Anti-Incumbent party allows voters to actively manage the government’s collective team performance. No matter how awesome the individual politicians might be, if they work poorly as a team, they need to be rotated out so we can try a new team.
Imagine how bad professional sports would be if coaches of losing teams couldn’t make major lineup changes between seasons. Keep in mind that most losing teams are packed with world-class athletes. Sometimes great individuals just don’t work well together.
I Googled “Anti-Incumbent Party” to see if someone already started such a thing and discovered a Super PAC dedicated to anti-incumbency. That seems like a step in the right direction. But I think we still need an Anti-Incumbent Party to get more traction.
The main stumbling block to this idea is that voters don’t like to waste votes. The Anti-Incumbency Party only works if it attracts enough supporters to influence elections. So I suggest building the website and collecting names for the party on a provisional basis. Members would not be expected to voting against incumbents until there were enough party members to make a difference. That way no one wastes a vote until The Anti-Incumbent Party reaches a critical mass and starts voting as a group.
Do you think you could vote against your preferred party (Democrat or Republican) if you really liked your candidates’ positions but the government as a whole wasn’t working well as a team?