Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Primary Way to Stop the Tea Party

The Shutdown showed a reckless minority empowered by gerrymandering strangling government. Is there a legal way to loosen its grip?

A self-proclaimed political junkie says there is. Reid Wilson on his Washington Post blog enthuses over:

“A top-two primary system, one that incentivizes candidates in even the most conservative or liberal districts to appeal to the vast middle that otherwise plays a limited role in picking members of Congress.

“In California and Washington state, that top-two system is already in effect. And in both states, the hard right and the hard left have seen their influence wane.”

Whether or not such a change can overcome gerrymandering is problematical, but its implementation, sanctioned by the Roberts Supreme Court in 2008, could hardly produce worse results than the election of 2012 in which House Democrats nationally won by over 1.4 million votes but the GOP retained a 33-seat advantage with an overall majority of 17 seats.

In this climate, conservative Republicans are as frustrated as Independent voters. If more states were to embrace a top-two primary system, the Tea Party would no longer be able to rule in Washington with unchecked fanaticism.

It’s time for members of a Radical Middle who still believe in reason to get their chance to shape American politics.

Update: With new polls showing voters increasingly turning against Tea Party tactics, the time is ripe to push for reform of a primary process that keeps their zealots in power to browbeat a majority of Americans.

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