The most depressing moment of this week’s gubernatorial debate came at the end, when Tom Brokaw asked the two candidates about whether California needed broader constitutional reform. Meg Whitman ducked the question and repeated platitudes. Jerry Brown said that he would work with the system he was given.

Together, that amounted to the same answer:

So what to do? The state’s system doesn’t work. And these two candidates have no proposals – or interest, for that matter – in doing anything about it.

Certainly, electing a governor has never guaranteed systemic reform. Big changes in California are made by voters. But voters could express their desire for reform in this election.

How? One way might be to skip the election entirely. There’s a strong argument for doing that in this election, since both candidates have ruled out fundamental change and all nine ballot measures hold the potential to make the existing system worse. Staying at home is a form of voting – and it has meaning, since standards for qualifying initiatives and referenda are based on turnout. If you don’t show up, it’s easier for people to get things on the ballot the next four years.

But there’s another option for those who see showing up at the polls as their civic duty. Write somebody in.

For your write-in vote to count, however, you need to vote for a certified write-in candidate. It’s not too late to launch a write-in campaign, though time is very short. The filing deadline for write-ins is next Tuesday, Oct. 19. (Yes, in California a write-in candidate has to file, collect signatures and get certified for the ballot).

Who would make a good write-in? Someone who would serve as a stand-in for reform. The most obvious choice would be one of the co-chairs of California Forward, the most high-profile reform group. Either Tom McKernan or Robert Hertzberg. The latter is a former Assembly speaker. Writing in Hertzberg’s name wouldn’t be an endorsement of him personally – rather a way to send a message that the top priority in California should be fundamental reform.

So what about it, Bob?