But California now is much different. A state that was once called “ungovernable” has now begun addressing many of the pressing issues other states and the federal government face, from pension reform to immigration reform. There’s no more talk of intractable gridlock in Sacramento, and the idea of California as the poster child for the failed liberal state has largely faded away.
California did it by implementing several successful, common-sense election reforms. First, they got rid of the divisive, low-turnout, closed-party primary that was responsible for so much of the gridlock in the state legislature. In its place, they adopted the kind of innovation that many strong and well-functioning democracies in other parts of the world have embraced; the top-two open primary. Basically they turned what had been a partisan, party-only bonanza for extremists into a two-round election in which everyone participates, and the top two vote-getters in the first round move on to the second.