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?

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Dec 24, 2012
Joining the Anti-Incumbent Party would be a hard sell for me. I have the pleasure of having a Democratic Congressman who consistently acts exactly as I want him to. He's even one of the few to come out in favor of legalizing weed and cutting from the military budget. To my knowledge, he's never taken a position I disapproved of, and that's sort of remarkable.

Would I vote him out anyway, if the government couldn't meet certain benchmarks? Well, if the Democrats were in charge, and they still couldn't get anything accomplished, then maybe. But so long as they're out of power, I see sending my Democratic rep back every two years as doing my part in the anti-incumbent vote anyway. Because right now, Democrats in the House have no power. Boehner is following the tradition of Newt Gingrich before him. He won't even bring up bills that could pass the whole chamber if it couldn't pass with just Republican votes. There's obstruction in that place, but I see it as 100% the fault of the Republicans.

What about the Senate? Well, I realize the Senate is under Democratic control nominally, but with the broken filibuster, Republicans get to obstruct anyway. It's why reforming the filibuster is so important to me. And if the Democrats squander their opportunity to reform the filibuster by majority vote when the Senate re-convenes, then they deserve to lose, and I wouldn't feel bad at all voting against my Democratic Senator (who, as fate would have it, has taken _many_ positions I disagree with) in 2014. But if they do reform the filibuster, and they start doing the things that the Senate is supposed to do, then sure, I'll keep voting for my Senator too.
Dec 24, 2012
This is basically Heinlein's shoot-the-horse theory of government.* It strikes me as inefficient, however.

Assume an AIP powerful enough to replace a Congress at will. In any given Congress there will already be a few members who are sympathetic to and working toward the AIP's goals. If Congress falls short of those goals (safe bet,) the bad guys AND good guys are tossed out. Now, eventually, over a few decades perhaps, politicians in general would get a Clue and start moving in the desired direction, but it seems to me that structuring the party's efforts such that only the bad guys are filtered out each cycle would produce results much faster and more effectively.

You'd end up with a kind of meta-party dedicated to enforcing excellence in government. Not a bad thing at all.

* Probably not original with Heinlein. If your horse cannot jump the hurdle, shoot it and get another one. Repeat until you have a horse that can jump.
Dec 24, 2012
I concur and offer up two gifts.
1) I had thought about starting my own party and running for President under the Really Great Party umbrella. Anti-Incumbent is a mouthful for most, but who wouldn't want to be part of the Really Great Party. I can have the website for you when you're ready.
2) The only thing that can make this and, indeed, our system work better is the fall-back vote idea. I first heard about it when Kinky Friedman was running for governor in Texas, but it made sense then as it does now. You cast two votes when you vote...the first for whomever you really want and the second for your back-up vote...the one you don't want to waste. If the first doesn't win, your backup vote goes into play. A lot of countries have this and it makes the two party system less of a system and more of a choice. Which is why it won't actually get passed, but that is just my realism talking. It could be made to work and would make election night more interesting than it already is.
Dec 24, 2012
I've been an Anti Incumbent party member since I started voting in 1986. Oh sometimes I have voted for the incumbent just because the alternative was an idiot but generally "throw the bums out!" has been my rallying cry. Certainly at the Congressional level, it's a bit more iffy at the state & local levels. I care far more about specific issues of property tax rates & support/lack of for various things at those levels. But nationally? Throw the bums out!

The problem is that everyone who shouts about the system being broken thinks the problem is everyone but their guy. Their guy is part of the solution. It's everyone else's guy that need to be thrown out. When everyone thinks that way you get a 90% re-election rate (or whatever it currently is) .

Most people just can't get past that. I've never had a party, candidate or issue to be loyal to so I have no problem voting against anyone currently in office no matter what their position on *insert issue here* is.
Dec 24, 2012
Remind me, please, about your economics party idea, how this idea differs from that and tell me if this idea is meant to replace that idea.

And to answer your question I consider myself a moderate who likes some things each party stands for and dislikes other things each party stands for. I currently support the Democrats because I can stomach the things they actually do while in office more and because as far back as I can remember (the Reagan years) the Republicans have betrayed their platform of fiscal responsibility.
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