The above is certainly one of Grayson's last floor speeches– at least until 2019– and he made the best of it with a proposal I've been waiting for. In fact, I think it's a proposal many people outside of the professional political class, regardless of party, will be excited about: NONE OF THE ABOVE as a ballot designation in federal elections. I talked with Grayson several times while he was writing the bill and I know he didn't just have presidential elections in mind– let alone this particular one– although I suspect many people will interpret it that way. But look at some of the gruesome choices voters were asked to make around the country– like this half dozen where there, quite literally, was no lesser between the two evils:
• Florida Senate: Marco Rubio vs Patrick Murphy
• Indiana Senate: Todd Young vs Evan Bayh
• West Virginia Governor: Jim Justice vs Bill Cole
• CA-07: Ami Bera vs Scott Jones
• TX-23: Will Hurd vs Pete Gallego
• MI-01: Jack Bergman vs Lon Johnson
None of this collection of lobbyists, crooks, imbeciles, liars and drunks is remotely acceptable for public office. And they're far from the only ones. So Grayson's legislation isn't just a reaction to the vast majority of Americans who said they were dissatisfied with both presidential candidates.
If Grayson's bill passes– hard to imagine professional politicians would ever agree to this kind of reform that threatens their careers– voters could vote for “none of the above” and if “none of the above” gets more votes than any of the candidates, there would have to be a do-over, presumably starting with primaries to pick new candidates.
As you can see from Grayson's speech, had the Democrats not “somehow” wound nominating such an unacceptable candidate, almost anyone would have beat Trump. Grayson commissioned a poll the first week in November that showed voters were deeply dissatisfied with their ballot choices. If given the choice, 40% would have opted to reject all of the presidential candidates; the split among the remaining candidates would have left both Clinton (30%) and Trump (27%) defeated by None Of The Above.
Wednesday evening– in that speech above– Grayson told his colleagues and, more important, the American people that “In one election after another, the voters feel completely ignored. Little or no effort is made to explain to them how their lives might be improved by any candidates running for office. People feel they are being offered a choice between the lesser of two evils. Well, take it from me: the choice between two evils is evil.” In a press release, his office asserted that:
Grayson noted that even the mere threat of a NOTA-majority vote will be an effective reform tool. For instance, if a majority of voters reject the candidates– including the all-too-common unfit, but entrenched incumbent– an election re-do opens the door to lesser-funded or unknown, yet better qualified, opponents.
The specter of a NOTA vote would also force candidates to curb the costly negative ads that rely on a corrupt, special interest-driven campaign finance system, which also alienates voters. The more positive campaigns that result from it would boost turnout. Even a large NOTA vote that falls just short of a majority will send a clear message to a winning candidate: ‘do your job better.’
…The national survey of more than 1,600 registered voters revealed that just more than half of all voters were also disappointed with their presidential primary choices, with more than half of Republicans and two-thirds of independents expressing displeasure with their primary ballot choices. Eighty percent of American adults did not participate in the Presidential primaries.
“Our grievances as a country, and our divisions, are massive, deep, intractable and widely shared. We must declare our independence from a system that constantly and perpetually generates unappealing, and frankly sometimes appalling, alternatives,” Grayson said on the House floor. “We can’t go on like this.”
“We deserve a real choice: to choose None of the Above,” offered Rep. Grayson. He called it “voting with your middle finger.”
Grayson's poll found that Obama would have beaten Trump by 2%. Bill Clinton would have won with a 4% margin. Biden would have beaten Trump by 8%. And Bernie would have beaten Trump by a jaw-dropping 12%– a massive landslide. And Bernie would have beaten Ted Cruz by 10 points and Marco Rubio by 4 points. But my favorite line was about putting the fear of God into incumbents, most of whom rarely if ever have serious opponents. None of the Above would be a constant serious opponent that would make incumbents step up their games– and to the benefit of the people. “We need to make sure that the comfortable here in this room and down the hal aren't too comfortable and that even pampered incumbents in gerrymandered districts would have to work diligently to defeat the specter of None of The Above.”
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis