Freedom of Speech is a human right. But speech must be heard and too many of us are shut out of political speech in California.
The Common Sense Party will be the voice for the rest of us – a way for candidates and concerned Californians to be heard.
Name an issue of importance to you. Are you satisfied with the way the present political system in California is dealing with your issue? Or are they ignoring it completely? Or are they stalled in gridlock instead of coming together around common-sense solutions?
While we are committed to the values of responsibility, openness and inclusiveness, and will ultimately develop a party platform, we will not have ideological litmus tests for you to meet to participate in our party. The two major parties, by contrast, do. And often those litmus test issues are unconnected to the realities Californians face every day.
For instance, if you want to be supported by the Republican Party, you can never support a tax. This takes off the table sensible approaches worthy of robust debate, such as a carbon tax to replace the present cap-and-trade system we have to combat greenhouse gases in California. (Almost all academic economists recognize the superiority of a carbon tax to an output quota.) The proceeds from the tax could be used to help workers most hurt by the restructuring needed in our economy to respond to climate change. But if you mention the word “tax,” you are ostracized from the Republican Party.
Similar orthodoxy reigns in the Democratic Party. Responsive to public employee unions, no Democratic Party candidate can suggest the contracting-out of government functions, even though that might be cost-effective for California taxpayers. No Democrat can expect party support if she or he supports charter schools, even though for many parents of modest income, a charter school may be the single-best opportunity their children will have for high quality education.
“I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.” Thomas Paine (author of Common Sense).
By contrast, the Common Sense Party is focused on principles, not a set of rigid policy prescriptions. We welcome policy positions based on facts, not ideology. We will be compassionate and data-driven. We recognize that no one has a monopoly on good ideas and that people can disagree on some things but still find common ground on others. Sometimes the very best solutions are driven by the give-and-take of debate between alternative viewpoints.
The two major parties demand strict adherence to a uniformity of views. They demonize any dissent. That isn’t how Californians actually think and solve problems. In recent years, this has resulted in gridlock not common-sense problem solving.
The two major political parties once worked together to solve the major problems affecting our state. Through listening to each other, California built strong, lasting policies that have stood the test of time. In recent years, both parties have become more strident, more driven by their far-left or far-right fringes, and more committed to ideology instead of negotiation and robust debate – the way to make sound public policy that benefits Californians.
In California, we've actually become a one-party state and, while that party may have some good policy proposals, all policies deserve debate that includes all views, including from those in the middle where good public policy often gets made.
California’s open primary allows citizens to vote for any candidate on the ballot in the primary election. Then the top two vote getters advance to the general election. Sometimes the top two candidates are from the same major party, often with the result that the party puts its money and infrastructure behind the more ideologically pure candidate, even when the other candidate might better reflect the views of most Californians.
We will eventually field our own candidates – candidates we believe will appeal to the majority of Californians. But in races where we do not have a Common Sense candidate, we are committed to supporting common-sense Democrats, common-sense Republicans, common-sense candidates of smaller parties, and common-sense candidates unaffiliated with any political party — so long as the candidate thinks for herself or himself and demonstrates to us by their positions on issues an independence that is responsible, open, and inclusive.
For now, our platform is our Statement of Principles (see www.cacommonsense.org). Our motto is a party that is Responsible, Open, and Inclusive. Once we are officially recognized, we will add specific policy positions to our platform if they command support of a supermajority of our members. This consensus-building process will exclude many of the most divisive issues from becoming litmus tests, while preserving the party structure as a forum to discuss even the most controversial subjects, free from the fear of ostracism. We believe that this approach recognizes the diversity of thought that often exists even within a political party.
There is a huge appetite for independent-minded politics in California. The growth in independents registering has far outstripped that of Democrats or Republicans in the last ten years. When asked by the Public Policy Institute of California, 56% of Democrats, 53% of Republicans, and 75% of independents thought a third major party was needed in California.
This trend is evident especially among younger Californians. Pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds in California show 51.5% choosing no party preference; compared with 31.66% Democratic and 10.42% Republican.
Why a party? Under California’s existing campaign-finance laws, independents are at a 9-to-1 disadvantage in running for office, compared with candidates of a recognized political party. Candidates for the state legislature, for example, are limited to receiving $4,700 from an individual donor. But a political party can raise up to $38,800 from an individual donor and support the campaign of the candidate the donor supports. Candidates without a political party or candidates without their party’s endorsement are at a complete disadvantage, because they are limited to individual donations of $4,700 rather than as much as $43,500.
Once the Common Sense Party becomes officially recognized, we can equalize that advantage—not only for candidates who run under our party’s name but candidates we support who run without a party label. The Common Sense Party believes that, with our support, more and more candidates will choose to run without a party label.
Californians are sick of party politics. A candidate who can say “I’m not a member of any party” or “I’m an independent-thinking member of a party. I just want to do right by California,” has a tremendous head start in popular appeal – and the Common Sense Party can equalize the financial and organizational support available to such a candidate.
In the general election, we might also choose to support the more independent-minded Democrat in a D vs. D race or the more independent-minded Republican in an R vs. R race, each of whom might be denied financial and organizational assistance from their own party because they don’t blindly adhere to party orthodoxy.
The campaign-finance laws have clearly been created to benefit the two major political parties, disenfranchising candidates and voters. The status quo also works well for smaller parties that are ideologically doctrinaire and discourage or explicitly forbid supporting candidates other than their own party’s. The Common Sense Party, by contrast, will help independent-minded candidates even if they are not members of our party as long as we don’t have our own candidate in the race.
Our short-term goal is to qualify as a party so that we can put our ideas into action. An early goal is to elect more independent-minded Californians to public office. We seek to put people in office who will be driven by facts, will work across partisan divides, will be open to principled compromise, and will show a commitment to solving California’s complex problems.
Today, California essentially has single-party rule, with more than two thirds of each house of the Legislature controlled by the same party. If independent-minded candidates were to win in just five State Senate races in 2022, or seven independent-minded candidates win in Assembly races, the two-thirds dominance would be broken, vigorous debate would ensue, and better solutions to California’s problems would be developed by giving a voice to “the rest of us.”
How do we do this? In 2010 California voters passed Proposition 14, establishing the Top-Two Primary to increase the right to participate in primary elections by putting all of the candidates on a single ballot. The top-two vote getters advance to the general election. Before that, it was virtually inevitable that the major parties’ candidates would always proceed to the November election. As a result, the winner in November was almost always either a Democrat or a Republican.
In California’s top-two primary, if an independent-minded candidate comes in second or first, she or he will face only one opponent, likely a Democrat or a Republican, in November. In that situation, the independent has an excellent chance of winning the large percentage of California voters who are independent (statewide, that’s 24%), as well as the members of the major party whose candidate did not make it to the finals.
Our goal is to become a major political party in California and to represent the largest bloc of Californians who want the government to address problems in a responsible way.
We are a California-based political party. But we know that there is even more dysfunction at the federal level. If we succeed in California, other states may wish to follow our lead both in establishing top-two or other innovative primary systems and in developing a Common Sense Party in their state.
We will share our strategy and successes with the growing independent movement of disaffected voters across the nation. We will be supportive of Americans of goodwill who want to work together to improve the political system of our country.
We need to get to 68,000 registered members with the Secretary of State to become an official party.
If you believe in our mission, then join us and change your party registration.