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Upcoming Book: America's Political Problems Start with Its Broken Primaries

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Created: 07 January, 2024
Updated: 19 January, 2024
3 min read

Photo Credit: Bill Selak / Flickr

 

A new book is slated to hit the shelves in February by former congressional candidate and Unite America Executive Director Nick Troiano that details the fundamental problem with the US's unrepresentative and hyper-polarized political system and where change must begin: the primaries.

For more than a decade, many people involved in systemic electoral reform -- including authors of the IVN Network -- accurately predicted the path the nation's politics would go down as a result of partisan primary elections that serve the private interests of the two major parties and decide most electoral outcomes in the US.

Today, the parties have never been more divided; America's political institutions are run by candidates who cater to the ideological fringes of their respective parties; and voter trust in these institutions and US elections is at an all-time low.

Troiano details all of this in his book, "The Primary Solution: Rescuing Our Democracy from the Fringes." He also advocates for a nonpartisan solution to America's primary problem that has been adopted in Washington, California, Alaska, and could soon transform elections in other states as well.

The solution would replace partisan primaries entirely with a system in which all voters and candidates participate on a single ballot and the top vote-getters (the number of whom would be determined by the adopted system) advance to the general election. In California, for instance, it is the top two candidates. In Alaska, it is the top four.

Opponents of nonpartisan primary reform often point out that partisan primaries were forced on the parties. And they are right. The initial point of the primaries was to facilitate a more democratic (small "d") system that did away with shady deals in the smoked-filled backrooms of old.

The problem, as Troiano points out in his book, is that partisan primaries have had the opposite effect. Instead of greater democratization and better opportunities for candidates, the parties fixed the system to still put their self-serving interests first because in an overwhelming majority of elections only a small fraction of the electorate determines the outcome. 

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Unite America breaks down some of the things detailed in Troiano's book, including:

  • "A lose-lose-lose system: Party primaries have a compounding effect on American politics: they are bad for voters, bad for the parties, and bad for the country as a whole. Rather than serving their original purpose of expanding voter participation, improving the nominating process, and cracking down on corruption, party primaries are today doing the exact opposite."

  • "The Primary Solution in real time: Those curious as to how well primary reform adoption plays out need look no further than Alaska, if you’re willing to make the trek. Like three states before it, Alaska replaced its party primaries with a nonpartisan primary in 2020 –– giving all voters the right to vote for any candidate, regardless of party affiliation, in every taxpayer-funded election."

  • "The path toward nationwide reform: The complex nature of election reform will require supporters to apply smart, proven strategies built on principles drawn from the success of those who came before. From defending early wins vigorously, to embracing unexpected allies, and choosing battles accordingly, state-by-state change arrives in the same manner that Ernest Hemingway described bankruptcy: “'gradually and then suddenly.'" 

The US is about to kick off another monumental election cycle, and many voters are concerned about what the 2024 primary cycle could produce. The demand for change is growing -- evident by the surge in campaigns and legislative efforts to reform primary elections.

"The Primary Solution" offers voters a tangible path toward a functional and more accountable democratic process.

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