Partisanship and participation: A reply to Matt Kokkonen

February 10, 2016
Michael Latner

Michael Latner

OPINION by MICHAEL LATNER

On Jan. 30, candidate for the 24th Congressional District Matt Kokkonen published an editorial in CalCoastNews, in response to his not being initially invited to a Congressional debate held at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.  He accused me of being “ignorant of the elemental mechanics of filing for Congress” and of engaging in “bigotry” against Republicans.

These are very serious charges, and a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that I provide a response.

Regarding ignorance, Mr. Kokkonen claimed that candidates for Congress file with the FEC and “not with the local county” and that Cal Poly was wrong to use information from the Clerk-Recorder to identify additional viable candidates. However, whether candidates submit a filing fee or petition for signatures in lieu of filing fee, those forms are submitted “with the county elections official of the county in which the signers reside” according to California law.  This is not a contestable fact.

Regarding bigotry, Mr. Kokkonen knew that several Republicans had already been invited, and that his claim had no foundation in reality. Moreover, after Mr. Tyler Gross dropped out of the debate, Cal Poly took the unnecessary but principled position that the two remaining active candidates, Mr. Kokkonen and John Uebersax, should both be included, even though it limited time for in-depth discussion.

To repeat, nobody was ever excluded, or included, on the basis of partisanship. So why would Mr. Kokkonen make such an unfounded, disingenuous claim?

Mr. Kokkonen’s claims feed the narrative that “the system is rigged” and his perception of victim hood is probably genuine. Indeed, Mr. Kokkonen has been repeatedly violated at the hands of a judgmental electorate: Not only did voters hand him a crushing 36 point defeat in a previous run for Congress, his own party has turned him down in previous primaries.

Mr. Kokkonen is a victim of sorts, a victim of democracy.

Most analyses would blame his unpopularity on the misguided policies he advocates, including, according to his own testimony at the debate, an across the board 10 percent cut in the federal budget (i.e., $60 billion cut in defense spending), which equates to about a 2 percent retraction in overall GDP.

Mr. Kokkonen also advocates returning to our “Judeo-Christian” values from which he feels we have strayed, which I can only presume means that we are too tolerant of gays and Muslims, and especially gay Muslims.

As a staunch defender of freedom of expression and diversity of thought, I believe that even Mr. Kokkonen’s ill-conceived, morally repugnant views deserve more than just a place at the debate table.

The system is partially rigged, and I strongly support electoral reform that would give he and his supporters greater voice in government. Mr. Kokkonen will never win a seat under California’s single-member districts, where a candidate/party needs 50 percent plus one votes and receives 100 percent of the representation.

But under a scheme of proportional representation, where we combine five or more existing seats into a single district (the Central California District), and allow voters to rank order their choices, Kokkonen’s Christian nationalists, Greens, and Libertarians would all have a much greater chance of winning one of five seats with, say, 20 percent of the vote.

The major parties would still dominate the process, but multi-party competition would give greater voice to minor parties, including the Pirate Party, which is a real thing. See for yourself. Everyone, even pirates, deserve a voice in our democracy.

When he is not brewing award winning beer with his neighbors in Atascadero, Michael Latner teaches political science at Cal Poly and is the author of “Gerrymandering in America: The House of Representatives, The Supreme Court, and the Future of Popular Sovereignty.”

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25 Comments

  1. isoslo says:

    Mr. Latner, the smart thing to do would have been to ignore Matt. He is a candidate for public office who says a lot of things. You are supposed to be a more educated teacher of political science who should know better than to go into a public forum to attempt to defend your own ego. In my opinion you come across looking small and petty. You have given Matt some free publicity, do you teach that technique in any of your classes?

    (12) 30 Total Votes - 21 up - 9 down
  2. achillesheal says:

    Christian values are now considered morally repugnant because of the authors assumption that judeo-christian values mean hating gays and muslims?
    This is the thought process of an individual people are paying $25k/year to teach their kids.

    How about some diversity of thought on campus as well.

    (8) 24 Total Votes - 16 up - 8 down
    • JimF says:

      When politicians reference “christian values” they’re speaking about tolerance and acceptance, the renunciation of violence, the need to love all others unconditionally, and the requirement to disown excess worldly possessions and ensure that the needs of others are met. Those on the christian right acknowledge the fact that jesus was a socialist and therefore they are all staunch bernie supporters. There is absolutely no contradiction between conservative ideology and christian values….

      (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
      • achillesheal says:

        You are confused about the role of government in these matters. Christians help the poor themselves and through their community and churches.

        When government gets involved money flows to politicians and is filtered to their foundations (wink, wink), their children with no skills are paid millions and they run around saying that they are helping the poor.

        The social programs established by government keep the enslaved individual shackled to government support from cradle to grave. That doesn’t sound very Christian to me.

        (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
  3. Ted Slanders says:

    Does Mr. Kokkonen really want to go back to the Bronze and Iron Age in following biblical Christian values? Okay, then in part, I am sure Mr. Kokkonen will be at the forefront in following these biblical Christian “values” again. Start building more prisons in the name of Yahweh!

    KILL CHILDREN THAT CURSE THEIR PARENTS; Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees for not washing his hands before eating.   Jesus defends Himself by attacking them in a quid pro quo stance for not killing disobedient children according to the commandment; “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and anyone who curses his father or mother MUST BE PUT TO DEATH. (Matthew 15: 3-4).

    The “command” that Jesus was referring too and that was in effect at His time was when Moses said: “Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.” (Exodus 21:17)

    KILL PEOPLE OF OTHER GODS: “If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, BUT KILL HIM. Your hand shall be the first raised to SLAY HIM; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall STONE HIM TO DEATH, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12

    KILL GAY MEN AND LESBIANS: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: THEY SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

    “For this cause God gave them up into vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet . . . Who knowing the judgment of God, THAT THEY WHICH COMMIT SUCH THINGS ARE WORTHY OF DEATH, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:26-27)

    Of course we true Christians realize that the aforementioned godly axioms are just a few of a “plethora” of killing commands set forth by our Hebrew God Yahweh. There’re too many of them to list herein, otherwise you’d be reading them all day, but you get the picture.

    (1) 17 Total Votes - 9 up - 8 down
    • achillesheal says:

      amen brutha. I love the old testament when god was a real hardcore prick.

      The bible got too soft with the arrival of Jesus.

      (2) 10 Total Votes - 6 up - 4 down
      • Ted Slanders says:

        achillesheal,

        Houston, we have a problem, Romans 1:26-27 is in the New Testament in the same vein as Leviticus 20:13 which is part and parcel to biblical Christian values.

        Besides, in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes it clear that He DID NOT come to destroy, rescind, nullify or abrogate the Old Testament Laws, all 613 of them: “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). With these words, Jesus likened the continuance of the Mosaic Laws to the permanence of heaven and earth!

        Jesus stated; “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:10) Jesus can only keep His Father’s commands in the Old Testament at his time of existence, therefore, Jesus condones the killing of others as mentioned above,of which have to be included as biblical Christian values even today.

        Deducing it to it’s irreducible primary, ALL Christians are to follow the 613 Old Testament commands, even if they put the Christian behind bars. This scenario is just one of many biblical axioms that a true Christian has to accept when we follow our Bronze and Iron age belief system, and with our Hebrew God named “Yahweh” behind the helm.

        (-1) 9 Total Votes - 4 up - 5 down
    • slolusion says:

      Americans suffer from a lack of critical thinking. Technological philosophers, including University “liberals”, have written about the shallow emoji culture and it’s hallowing out the understanding needed to add context in the modern world.

      This is a good example. The lowest hanging fruit, on the forbidden tree, of reasoning on why our society is looks as it does, is a citing of selected passages, out of context, to make a jump of biblical proportions.

      I remind the salient reader that in WWII both Chruchill and Roosevelt said in plain english that they were fighting for these value.. I’ll even throw in that so did the confederate government in it’s war.

      This issue runs much deeper than the shallowness which our culture seems to be able to debate including politicians.

      (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
      • Ted Slanders says:

        slolusion,

        We’ll await a cogent answer to how the passages in question are taken out of context relative to Christian biblical values. Otherwise, you present just another example of insidiously proving your point with hearsay, and not biblical fact.

        I’ll check back to be enlightened.

        Thank you.

        (-1) 9 Total Votes - 4 up - 5 down
  4. slolusion says:

    on the Values thought, while there is a segment that has a beef with sexual preference, there are those of us who see much more concerning writing on the wall. Even if you roll back Islam and gay marriage, this society is still a full train wreck. Maybe an oil trail at that. Even the fashionable darlings of the world such as Norway and Singapore look at us as how not to live.

    But there once was a time when Europes values were perceived much like we see the current United States. In other words those values you shrug off run deeper than you might wish to believe. Your being born in this country is likely a result of one or more of your direct ancestors either fleeing to worship, or refusing to worship as Europes aristocracy asked. Those values matter.

    (11) 13 Total Votes - 12 up - 1 down
  5. Pelican1 says:

    Michael, how many years have you actually spent in the real world…apart from the classroom?

    (12) 42 Total Votes - 27 up - 15 down
    • paragon says:

      How many have you, “Pelican”? You sure seem to have a lot of time to spam the comment boards with your vapid little song lyrics. And you think being a teacher is a waste of time?

      (-1) 31 Total Votes - 15 up - 16 down
  6. Rambunctious says:

    Well Mr. Latner you may not have attempted to exclude Mr. Kokkonen but after reading your opinion submission I’ve concluded that you would sure like to. Your political ideology has taken a severe hit over the last 8 years and it obviously has you concerned.

    (9) 67 Total Votes - 38 up - 29 down
  7. Black Copter Pilot says:

    Teaches political science at Poly. No thanks

    (10) 80 Total Votes - 45 up - 35 down
  8. JTKirk says:

    Mr. Latner: You should have stopped after three paragraphs when you were somewhat ahead. Instead, you delved deep into a partisan view of Mr. Kokkonen’s election shortcomings. This undermines your contention of being unbiased in excluding candidates from the debate. Furthermore, you don’t cite to the statute or regulation that you claim exists. And, whether or not a local filing is normal has no bearing on whether one is a legitimate candidate based upon federal filings alone. Therefore, I find your insistence on seeing a local filing to be flawed.

    Also, what’s up with being one of three registered “Pirate Party” voters in this county? (The Pirate Party and Rock and Roll Party both enjoy a couple voter registrations that can be counted on one hand). That alone makes you an awfully strange duck. I’d enjoy hearing more about this personal choice.

    (31) 75 Total Votes - 53 up - 22 down
    • catdude says:

      Gee, the neocons really don’t like being called out, do they? Go ahead and circle the wagons, you ain’t got nothin’ (to use the vernacular).

      (-19) 59 Total Votes - 20 up - 39 down

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