October 01, 2004
By Savannah Blackwell, SFProgressive.com Editor
Krist Novoselic is keeping a close watch on San Francisco’s upcoming elections.
The former bassist for Nirvana is using his celebrity status to push for reform of our national and local political processes. Having just penned a tome called “Of Grudge and Government: Let’s Fix this Broken Democracy,” Novolesic turned up September 22 at the lovely home of Dorkha Keehn, a longtime activist in San Francisco’s Democratic circles, to champion instant runoff voting. Keehn was hosting a fundraiser for the Center for Voting and Democracy, the reform-minded group that has brought us the new system that voters ratified at the polls in March, 2002.
Novoselic was pitching in by offering free copies of his tome, which focuses both on how the grunge rocker got active in progressive politics and how young musicians and artists can make a difference by joining in at the grassroots level, to folks who contributed $100 or more.
Hill kicked off the speeches by reminding the attendees that the United States still relies on an 18th century system to elect its national representatives – one in which the country’s less densely populated areas (which tend to be the most conservative) – get a disproportionately weighty voice in the outcome. He noted that during his travels to Europe, where the electorate is not restricted to a two-party, “winner take all” system, he found that the populace did not suffer from the same voter malaise that afflicts Americans.
`You can see voter turn-out that’s twice as high in other countries, because their system gives them the ability to get
better, more representative government,” Hill said. San Francisco will be the first major city to try out a new system in
which voters may cast ballots for more than one candidate using a ranked system, and Novoselic pointed out that voters throughout the country intent on reform will be closely watching the city on Nov. 2.
`Thank you, San Francisco voters and the Center for Democracy for having instant-runoff voting, because we (will then) have a model in Washington state,” he said. ``The seed is here, and it’s going to take off across the country. We call it the “New Wave” of Democracy.”
The evening provided a strong reminder why there’s even more at stake at the local polls than preventing Mayor Gavin Newsom from getting a fourth ally on the Board of Supervisors to assure him the ability to veto important progressive decisions. If, as Moon pointed out, IRV does not result in a confidence that the new system works, ``it will be a big turn back.”
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