The primary system suppresses the democratic process and it’s important that we take a look at fixing this. Despite what we get from the media coverage, we must remember that the primary election functions as more than a selector for each party’s candidate for president. We qualify candidates for both chambers of the U.S. Congress, state Assembly, state Senate, and most city and state offices to the general election through our primary system. Our current system:
- Makes some voters more important than others;
- Suppresses the independent vote; and
- Gives damaging levels of power to the two teams controlling our political process.
Evolve the primary system – get better candidates. Get better candidates – elect better officials. Elect better officials – save our sinking American ship. And we must save our sinking American ship.
Here’s how to fix it:
1. A national primary date.
All states need to have the same primary date instead of the 20 or so different voting days we have now. This will help in two ways. First, it eliminates the voting advantage of the states that go first for the presidential election, making voters in California and New Jersey as important to candidates as voters in Iowa. Second, it will improve voter turnout. We all know about election day in November, but with more than 20 dates for primary elections, it’s difficult to keep the population informed on a state-by-state basis.
2. Open up the two corrupt parties with more open primary elections.
The biggest obstacle for almost half of these United States is the closed primary which refuses to allow voters who aren’t registered with the party to vote. Forty-five percent of Americans identify as independent and they are routinely barred from voting in our current primary system.
3. More nonpartisan, blanket primaries for congressional, state legislative, and city and state offices.
A handful of states already use nonpartisan election systems, including California and Louisiana. The gist is this: Everyone runs and the top two or three vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, qualify to the general election. This helps dispel the “spoiler” myth that the two-parties have concocted (if you run as a progressive independent, you help the conservatives and vice versa). The nonpartisan primary improves the democratic process by eliminating the disqualifying condition of party affiliation.
4. Align the terminology we use to identify candidates and voters who are independent of party in this nation.
In California, I’m running as an independent candidate in the 12th congressional district. Many of my supporters want to make sure they are aligned with me, in terms of party. But they can’t register as “independent.” They register as “no party preference.” It used to be “decline to state.” We should make it simple. You don’t want to register with a party: You are independent. Not decline to state. Not no party preference. Independent, just like your candidates. This will clear up a lot of confusion.
5. Tear down the broken Electoral College.
There is a quick argument here and a funny video here which explains how weird and useless the Electoral College is. However, the most important issue is this: The Electoral College invalidates the votes of about 90% of American voters.
Living in California, all of our Electoral College votes are going to go to the Democratic presidential ticket. Living in Alabama, all of their Electoral College votes are going to go to the Republican ticket. This increases the tendency of the big political parties to focus on swing states and influences how people vote in the primary.
Instead of thinking about who is the best candidate for president, people wonder ‘Can he win South Carolina?’ Instead of asking who will help fix our broken economy, people poll folks in Ohio to see if they like a candidate. Get rid of the Electoral College system and get rid of this backwards way of thinking and you give the 90% back their voice.
As I said before, evolving the primary process is a massively important step in improving our broken political system. Massive flaws in the system lead to massive flaws in our democracy, and at a time with uncertainty, anxiety, and political corruption this high – nothing can be more important.