A couple of weeks ago, there was a primary election here in California. Per California law, most of the races were what we call "top two". That is, everybody can vote for all of the candidates, from all parties, for each office. The top two vote winners go on to the general election.
That applies even when, as happened in the US Senate race, both of the top two are from the same party. (Actually, the state of the California Republican Party is such that, in state-wide races, that result is more common than not.) In fact, in the Senate campaign if all of the votes for the 11 Republicans in the race were combined, they would have only barely exceeded those of the second place Democrat (there were also 7 Democrats in the race; plus the other 4 regular parties' candidates and a couple of independenets). That's have far things have gone.
But there were two exceptions. The first, of course, was the Presidential primary. Three of the parties (Republicans, Greens, Peace and Freedom) only let registered members of their parties vote in their primary. The other three (Democrats, Libertarian, American Independent) allow voters who have not registered in a party to request (at the polls) one of their ballots. (Makes for great fun for poll workers. We are explicitly forbidden from telling voters that they have those options. All we are allowed to do is point them to the written statement on that point, and wait for them to ask "of their own volition." Sigh.)
The second was the contest for members of the party Central Committee for the local county. In my county, there were 9 candidates for 7 positions. But the trouble was this: there was zero information available about those 9 candidates. No mailers arrived. None of them had websites. With one exception, I could not even find anything about them with a web search. So, no information on which to make a decision. Nada.
Why does that matter? Because the County Central Committee is where political careers start. Not so much via membership, as because they are the ones who recruit candidates of local and state legislative office. Who the committee members are, and what they think the party should be, shape who they recruit. But what is that; what do they each think? How do I, as a party member, give my vote to the ones who reflect my views on that?
I don't have an answer to that. Just some frustration. And a hope that I can figure out how to make the situation better -- not this time, obviously, but perhaps for the future. Without some changes, the party which could win Govenrorships, and Presidential general elections, in the 1970s and 1908s, will remain an irrelevance here. And government really works better if there is some real competition between parties.